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“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.” ~ Will Rogers
We silly humans often dwell endlessly on the past and constantly fantasize about the future, rather than living in the present.
Animals live only in the present and tend to be quite “happy” most of the time (unless, of course, they are being ensnared by a human or predator-laid trap or are in imminent danger).
Are there a few practical ways we can start acting like a kangaroo, rabbit, or (insert any cute furry animal)? Yes!
Building good habits starts with doing a task—or set of tasks—once, then repeating that effort a second time, and so on until the pattern becomes ingrained.
Below are 10 practical ways we can all start practicing the good habit of living in the present to unf*ck our mind from wandering aimlessly to a theoretically “better” future or going into endless loops of unpleasant events from our past.
Try to implement as many of these 10 steps both today and tomorrow. If you’re feeling ambitious and really want these steps to become a habit (whether the benefit really pays off), try doing it for 1-2 weeks straight.
You may not notice much after the first few days, but if you keep doing these things (even 3-4 of the below), you may find yourself living more often in the present than you think.
If you do these steps for an hour or two, I bet you will increase your overall happiness by 10-20 percent:
1. Spend 10-15 minutes in the morning meditating.
2. Spend 30 minutes reading a book (or on a Kindle) either in the morning or in bed at night
3. Savor the morning coffee without doing anything but drinking the coffee and relaxing.
4. Write down five tasks that you’d like to accomplish for the day and scratch them off with each completion.
5. Write down 2-3 things you’re thankful for and then post them on the refrigerator or on a Post-it note at work.
6. Put down the glass of wine and take a 30-minute walk; see how you feel afterward.
7. Now, have a glass of wine and enjoy it with only music in the background (or silence).
8. Say thank you to at least one person who did something or said something positive that day (online doesn’t count). Do it in person or over the phone.
9. Reach out to one person you haven’t talked to in a while—a family member or an old friend. Preferably someone you haven’t talked to in over a year. Think hard.
10. Thank yourself for at least one thing you did today or yesterday that you’re proud of. Now, say it again out loud.
Simply put, we can all practice being a kangaroo for a day (or two or three or more). We do it by living in the present, meditating, enjoying the small wins in life like the morning cup of coffee, the latest Justin Bieber hit, and the group workout class you want to be going to more often.
If you find yourself dwelling too much in the past or fantasizing too much about the future, try to refocus your mind on the small, immediate pleasures—the important things in your life that are going well.
Perhaps your good health? Stable job? Loving family? Great friends?
Happiness, after all, often comes through simply living in and focusing on the present. How often do we find ourselves getting into a state of flow at work or at the gym where nothing else in the world seems to matter?
I would even argue that putting yourself in a state of flow is on par with sex, sometimes even better!
In both cases, you are distinctly living in the moment.