How to Live Life in the Right Now: 3 Steps
I used to really struggle with this.
I used to live in my head and not in the right now.
Ok, that’s a lie. I still live in my head from time to time. It’s warm and exciting in there when I think the right kinds of thoughts.
But living in the now, the present, the whatever you want to call it, is empowering.
Because it’s all we ever have, this present moment.
No, I didn’t suddenly decide to act like Eckhart Tolle for the holiday party circuit, although I’m channeling some of his wisdom for this post.
I’m just sharing what I know to be true.
Together, Mr. Tolle’s wisdom and I, we will share what we know about how to live in the right now.
You’re Not You Outside of the Right Now
You can’t be yourself when you’re not living in the right now — you just can’t.
If you’re stuck in the past, thinking about something you said to your coworker 20 hours ago, you’re not living up to your full potential. That moment is gone. You can’t ever get it back.
And if you’ve zoomed to the present, wondering what kind of unsightly blemishes you’ll have when you’re 95 years old, you’re not living up to your full potential.
Because you’re not living in the present moment, in the right now.
The right now is a magical place full of great possibilities. You could do literally anything in the right now. You can take action. You can peel a banana.
In the past, not so much.
In the future, well, you could do those things, but it doesn’t do that much good to think about it. You might as well peel that banana right now.
You can’t be who you are outside of this one moment. You, the person reading these words is having an experience that you won’t have again. This exact experience is shaping your thinking and feeling. You will hold on to this for a bit, and then you will go on with your day.
So, if you and I can agree that all action happens in the right now, why is it so hard to stay in this place as a flailing, fallible human being?
The Right Now is Where the Feeling Happens
The past and the future are so tempting because they don’t have the feelings that you are required to experience right now.
You can take yourself to distant memories or dream up a sun-swept future, but you can’t escape what’s happening right now at this very moment. And that’s the rub, isn’t it?
Everything else seems so much better when bad feelings arise. We’ll do anything to run away from it all when bad feelings pop up. And sometimes we do actually run away. We pick up and ship ourselves to a new city, hoping that a different time zone will lead to a better time in general.
This may work for a bit — humans love novelty after all — but you’re still the same person. You still have to deal with experiences that are happening to you right now.
The creepy vortex of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors pulls you back in. Whether it’s water or quicksand, this experience you are having right now is your life. It’s time to begin the process of accepting that.
How to Live Your Life in the Right Now
You start by realizing when you are not in the right now, when you’re not existing in the present moment.
But how do you do that? (I promise this is not going to be an endless cascade of thought experiments.)
You Take a Breath
A what? A breath.
Breathing brings you back to center. It reminds you of who you are, and it does that because you can’t escape this moment when you are focusing on your breath. Now, this is not about to become a masterclass on meditation and all its fruitful benefits. Rather, this is about finding yourself with one simple breath.
You can do that. You can take one breath. And then another. And another. Before you know it, you’re here! You’re focusing on what’s right before you, and that’s what it takes to make any change in your life big or small. All a big change consists of is staying present long enough until it’s done. It’s not that simple of course, but it’s a beautiful way to look at it.
You Let Your Breath Turn into Something Greater
Anyone can start small. Don’t tell me that you can’t. You’re not a special edge case. We all can do this.
OK, you’ve started with the first breath of your new attitude. What happens next? You get to decide. Do you go clean some dishes, or do you file some mail? Or…do you call a friend to chat for a few minutes? It’s totally up to you, and the dizzying array of possibilities we have in a day can absolutely overwhelm us.
Luckily for you, you’ve started with a breath. You’ve centered yourself. Good decisions stem from centered thinking. Who am I right now? What do I need? Why do I need it?
When you take time to check in with yourself in the right now, you start to realize you are a tangled ball of potential, and there are clear needs that you have in order to become unraveled and head in a straight line.
You Choose Your Line and Stay on it For a While
Now that you’ve found your breath and found yourself, it’s time to find your path.
What’s great, though, is that being present is the best way to go about doing that. When you center yourself and make better decisions, a path starts to open up. Stay on that path for a while and see where it goes.
When you’re awake to the world, you start to notice things that you don’t when you’re sleepwalking through life. Living in your head won’t show you what you need to see today. Zooming to the future won’t reveal the beauty that is before you right now.
It’s only in the present moment that this can happen, and this wonderful place is absolutely available to you. Mr. Eckhart Tolle knows it. I know it. And now you know it.
Recapping the Right Now, Right Now
Now we’ve come to the end of today’s lesson.
You realize the potential you have. You’ve grasped the possibility by seeing what is right before you. These words likely brought up thoughts in you that have been dormant for some time. That’s OK. You now have a perfect opportunity to use what you learned.
Step into this moment. Step through your current experience rather than evading it.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how you live in the right now, just that you do it.