Do you struggle with living in the present? You have so many thoughts racing through your mind that you don’t know where to begin? This is a very real struggle that many deal with one way or another. To live in the present is a very simple concept to understand in theory, but can be difficult to put into action.
For me, living in the present means fully embracing myself into what I am doing in this current moment. This means paying full attention to my friends and family when I'm with them, paying attention to my thoughts when they appear, or paying attention to what is happening externally around me.
Living in the present is one of the best acts of love you can do for yourself, because you are providing yourself with the utmost peace. Over the past couple of years, I have put a conscious effort into being present and intentional with the people I surround myself with.
While I am far from perfect, I realize that I have come a long way from where I was before, and for that I’m so happy. With embracing the present comes learning to give up control over what will happen in the future. I have also come to the realization that not only is it unhealthy to always need to be in control, but it is also unrealistic.
Giving Up Control: Why It's Needed
The need to control situations in our lives is something we all face at one point or another. Feeling the need to be in complete control of your life stems from a place deep within ourselves.
This comes from a fear found within ourselves that we have not come to terms with on a conscious level. It is easier for us to want to be in control because we feel most comfortable when we have full control. The human brain is wired to provide us with comfort, and so it prevents us from going outside of our comfort zone in every way possible.
So, in a way, it is not really our fault for wanting to be in constant control, however, we need to draw the line when it becomes too much control. As much as we wish it were true, we cannot control the external environment around us. There is so much happening within the world that is so far out of our control, and for each activity we try to control, we try to take responsibility for it without even being aware of it.
So how do you give up control? While it may be overwhelming, recognizing these 3 factors will make the process of giving up control so much easier.
You Cannot Change Your External Environment
This is something I continue to remind myself on a daily basis. We often get caught up in thinking that if only we could change how another person thinks, everything will be better. If only we could invite them to think the way we do, they would get the whole picture.
Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, if a person doesn’t want to change enough themselves, then they won’t. You can do everything to inspire them to change, but at the end of the day it is up to them.
With this being said, you can change who you spend your time with, but you cannot change their actions. For example, if you recognize there are a few friends in your life who are not providing you any value, and are actually discouraging you rather than encouraging you to live your best life, then you have the ability to alter your external environment in not having them in your life anymore.
Author Ryan Holiday brings up a really interesting point on the topic of relationships in his book” Stillness is Key” which is, "Bad relationships are common, good relationships are hard to find but once you find them it means the entire world.”
It’s so important to surround ourselves with good people because they will inspire us to do great things, and live our best lives. It is not so much about the quantity of these relationships, but the quality of a few good relationships.
Peace Comes From Within
Ultimately, we all strive for peace. It is the one thing we all wish to have, yet we may not always go about it in the best of ways. It’s important to realize that you cannot seek peace in other people, or material items in your life.
By investing in material items, fun vacations, or relying on others to make you feel at peace, you will soon realize that this feeling is only temporary. To feel peace within yourself takes time and effort. It is the ability to recognize that stillness and contentment that is within you.
You may be familiar with someone in your life who wishes just to be happy. What they really wish for is to feel joy. The root of the word happiness means chance, the idea that you feel a state of pleasure at a specific time. Joy, on the other hand, comes from an internal decision we choose to make. To be joyful comes from what you choose to think about, and how you live on a day to day basis.
Reflect on another quote from Ryan Holiday, “ Our world creates so many little moments to find stillness and reflect on what is going on in the present. It’s just that we haven’t opened our minds up to it yet.” How do you feel after reading this?
Better Things Are Coming
No matter how you are feeling right now, always remember that you are not alone. Whether you have 15 people or 5 people to surround yourself with, there is always one person who is there for you. That person, or group of people may be family, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, or complete strangers.
Regardless, you are surrounded by your support system. With, whenever you find yourself in a funk, always remember better things are coming. You may not see a path quite yet, but with continuous hard work, and the desire to learn and improve yourself daily, you will achieve what you set your mind to.
There is really no cap on your potential if you set your mind to something. We get better at something by taking small steps each and every day. If you find yourself feeling like you need to be in control of a situation, try asking yourself “ What do I want to control right now? With a follow up question of: “ Why do I feel like I need to control this?”
By asking yourself these questions, you are going through the thought process to try and understand why it is you feel like controlling your situation, in an attempt to try to minimize it. If you would prefer, you can recite statements to yourself such as “ It is okay for me to let this go, I am not responsible for this” or “ I have done everything I can do in this situation.”
Ultimately, working on these three factors will help you become more present and live in the moment. By giving up control and accepting your situation, you will be able to recognize the peace that lies within you, and can look hopeful towards the future. What does living in the present look like to you? Let’s start a conversation below!