How to Live in the Present: 7 "Easy Tips"

I recently took a trip to Munson Island, off the Florida Keys. With a dozen Boy Scouts in tow, we paddled six miles from the Keys to this deserted island. Our BSA-staff docent had long hair, a dark tan and no care for the future or yesterday. He forced us all to fold into his zen-like state of mind.
 
It was irritating.
 
When we asked the question "when" to anything, he simple said: "When it [event] happens; don't worry about the future." To help us on our magical journey into the present moment, he took away our watches and cell phones. Without a time measurement device, the question "when" regarding an event lost its relevancy.
 
In just a few days time, I was beginning to understand our hippie Eagle Scout leader.  "When" really doesn't matter. Whatever the event is will or will not happen. Worrying about it doesn't make it so. In fact, worrying or even thinking too much about the future turns the present moment into a distraction.
 
My docent was onto something, but he wasn't original. Buddha chose to live in the present moment thousands of years ago. Christ tells us to not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:32), to simply pray for "daily bread" (Matthew 6:11), not the bread for tomorrow, next week or next year. 
 
Ironically and sadly, I didn't really hear what Christ said or care much about Buddha because I was too focused on what I was going to do tomorrow and then stressing about my past mistakes. I couldn't hear because mentally I wasn't there. 
 
While on the island, I came up with a way to focus on the present. I brought this back to the mainland and have been living it every since. It really makes a difference. 
 
Tip 1: Consider the day
When you wake up, don't take it for granted. Realize that you are alive--in this present moment. Think about it for a second or two and then begin to focus on what that means.
 
Tip 2: Consider the tasks for the day
Now that you're awake and you appreciate the gift aliveness, consider the things that you may do that day and that day only. Tell yourself that whatever gets done today is supposed to get done. Whatever doesn't was not meant for today--or possibly to ever get done. Remember; don't think about tomorrow. It may not happen. 
 
Tip 3: Consider distractions
As you go through the day, be mentally present. In other words, watch what comes into your mind. If it is a worry about tomorrow, don't dwell on it. Toss it aside as a needless distraction that is robbing you of the present. Do this over and over and over and it will become second nature. 
 
Tip 4: Become aware
Awareness can only come when your mind is living in the present and not stirring about the future or the past. With a clear mind, focus on what is going on at that moment. You'll be amazed at what you start picking up. 
 
Tip 5: Don't let people pull you into their future
You'll realize that most people don't try to live in the present. If you can, start training your loved ones to live in the present by asking them to not talk to much about future "what ifs." At first, they will be annoyed, but after a time they will understand and realize the great gift you have given them. 
 
Tip 6: Relish the end
As the end of the day draws near, relish it rather than feeling guilty over the things you didn't get done. Remember tip 2? Repeat it here. What got done was supposed to get done; what didn't wasn't. The day is over; you did well. 
 
Tip 7: Rinse and repeat
It takes practice to tie a shoe, ride a bike or learn a new language. Living in the present takes a lifetime of practice. Buddha had to give up all materialism before he could come close. As the Son of God, Christ had a bit of an advantage. Most of us won't give up our material possessions to go live on an island without time measurement devices. We will need to repeat the six step every day and be aware of them, which is what being present really is. 
 
I'm off the island and have been for several months. I've failed at these seven steps many times, but the times I succeed have been the most aware that I've ever been in my entire life. When I'm in the present, stress dissipates, worry dissolves and life is much better.
 
Give it a try! 
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