4 Steps to Living in the Present

Where do you live?

I’m not asking the address of your home, I’m asking “Where do you LIVE?” Where does your mind reside? Where do you live in your thinking?

Now

Most people I coach live in 1 of 2 places. The most common place is in the future, in the land of ‘What If ?’ This is the place where we say things such as, ”What if my presentation at work goes bad” or “What if I ask her on a date and she says “No”? or “What if I never make it as a Writer (or Musician, or ….)?”

“What if? …What if?…”

Yet another place that many live is in the past, in the land of ‘If Only’. “If only I had started my business earlier … If only I had more self-confidence … If only my family wasn’t so dysfunctional … If only I wasn’t rejected.”

“If only … If only”

The land of ‘What if’ is based in Anxious Anticipation while the land of ‘If only’ is based in Regret. Unfortunately, Anticipation and Regret keep us stuck in fear, sadness and victimhood while draining the precious energy necessary to experiencing an amazing life.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was terrified of speaking in public (“What if I blank out …What if they laugh at me …What if I blow it in front of everyone?”). I was living in the future. One day I decided that I had enough of living in that land and made a decision to take charge of my fears. At that moment I committed to overcoming my anxiety and began to practice the speaking skills that led to my future speaking success.

I made a decision to live in the third land, the land of ‘I choose’, of living in the present.

Living in ANY land other than the present may feel safe and ‘known’ yet it robs us of our ability to experience joy, wonder, spontaneity and creativity.

In order to truly live and create, we must reside in the present and make choices right now, in this very moment.

I have discovered that the key to practicing presence is in pursuing childlike renewal – by SLOWING DOWN, breathing deeply and giving yourself permission to experience the present moment in an innocent, trusting and spontaneous way.

Here are 4 steps that children can teach us in order to help us move our ‘mental place of residence’ to the present:

1) Take off your mask, accept who you are and be yourself!
Children are not afraid to make mistakes and be themselves. Too often we pressure ourselves to be someone we feel we ‘should’ be, putting on ‘masks’ out of fear of becoming vulnerable to what may happen in the future. Take off your mask, be yourself and go for it!

2) Become more spontaneous!
Children will try anything at a moment’s notice. As adults we hear voices such as, “Be careful…Who will want to read your book…Who do you think you are!” Soon, it feels like your uniqueness is obliterated and you choose to live in safety, without creative spontaneity.

3) Start dreaming again!
Let your childlike, imaginative self go for it. Dream BIG, stop listening to self-limiting self-talk. Challenge the ‘What if’s’ and ‘If only’s’ with ‘SO WHAT!!’

4) Act childlike!
Act silly, try things differently. Ask yourself, “If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do right now?” Right now … not later … not someday … right NOW.

It’s time to move from where you have been living to where you want to be. The wonderful news is that it’s under your control!

Question: “Where do you tend to live? I’d love to hear about you creating a new ‘residence’ as well as the amazing results you experience by becoming more childlike! Please leave your thoughts by clicking the Comments button above the post.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • While I understand how it can be helpful to act as a child, free from inhibitions, willing to take risks, etc., the idea of being the child I was is not freeing. In fact, when certain buttons go off in me and I become as a child, I freeze. I am filled with fear and I have to push through. I do like the idea of creating new residence. For this to be effective for me, I need to create the safe place that invites me to act as a child without thinking something terrible is about to happen. I have actually been learning how to be childlike from my grandchildren. And somehow I get those tastes of how it truly should have been. Those experiences are refreshing.

    • nlazaris

      Great insights Anne. Certainly our goal is to become more like the child we were before we became afraid. Interestingly, most who study anxiety and fear agree that the only 2 fears that all children come into the world with are the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises – all other fears are learned. That is our hope, that we can work towards becoming as fearless as we once were!