How to live in the present

Why not now?

What does it mean to live fully in the present moment? It means that your awareness is completely centered on the here and now. You are not worrying about the future or thinking about the past. When you live in the present, you are living where life is happening. The past and future are illusions, they don’t exist. As the saying goes “tomorrow never comes”. Tomorrow is only a concept, tomorrow is always waiting to come around the corner, but around that corner are shadows, never to have light shed upon, because time is always now.

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha

Why living in the present will change your life.

If you’re not living in the present, you’re living in illusion. That seems to a be a pretty good reason to live in the present, doesn’t it? But how often are we worrying about things that have yet to come, how often do we beat ourselves up for mistakes that we’ve made, no matter how much time has passed? The answer is too much. Not only will living in the present have a dramatic effect on your emotional well-being, but it can also impact your physical health. It’s long been known that the amount of mental stress you carry can have a detrimental impact on your health. If you’re living in the present, you’re living in acceptance. You’re accepting life as it is now, not as how you wish it would have been. When you’re living in acceptance, you realize everything is complete as it is. You can forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made, and you can have peace in your heart knowing that everything that should happen will.

“If you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.” -Unknown

Start living, stop conceptualizing.

The worst part about living in the past or the future is that you’re giving up your personal power. If you’re not living now, you’re giving up your life. You’re surrendering your power to create. If there are changes you’d like to make in life, it’s best to do it now. If you’re living in the past, you can’t do anything about it, it’s gone. If you’re worrying about the future, you’re living somewhere that doesn’t exist. It hasn’t happened yet. If you want to change your life, the only place you can do it is in the present. But first you need to accept life as it is. When it comes down to it your mind is the only thing keeping you from living in the present.

“There is no distance on this earth as far away as yesterday.” ~Robert Nathan

Why is it difficult to live in the present?

There are many people that can give you their opinion or their advice on why it is difficult to live in the present. Some will say it is because we live in abstraction, we live in the world of symbols. Some might say it is because we have awareness of the passage of time, or the illusion of time, it produces anxiety because we can look at the past and predict the future. I think all of these answers are partially true. Though the biggest reason we don’t live in the present is because we don’t shut up. That is, we constantly talk to ourselves. As Alan Watts aptly put it, “if we are talking all of the time, we never hear what anyone else has to say. In the same way, if we are talking to ourselves all the time, we are never listening, we have nothing to think about other than thoughts, and are never in relationship with reality”.

As humans, we love to create stories. We love to listen to other people stories and compare them with our own. This is beautiful. In a way we could say that the entire universe is based on one collection of stories, a cosmic story. The problem is when we feel the need to create a story about everything, we are living entirely in the world of symbols. We confuse the world as it is, with the way we think about it, talk about it and describe it. Reality though, is not a concept. When we realize this we are able to return to a state of peace and stillness.

A new way, 5 ways to start living in the present:

In order for us to live in the present, does this mean we have to give up our innate desire to write our personal story and share it with others? No, we shouldn’t trade one extreme for another. What we really want, is to find balance. If you follow these simple tips you can start living in the present, and start experiencing reality as it is.

1. Don’t try to quiet your mind

The hardest thing to do when living in the moment is, or trying to simply witness life, is to not have the urge to try to quiet your mind. When we try to quiet the mind, we just disturb it all the more. Instead, simply witness your thoughts as if they are pure sound. Don’t try to judge your thoughts, there are no good thoughts or bad thoughts. Simply witness them as if they were noise.

2. You are not your thoughts

Too often we identify ourselves with our thoughts, we actually believe we are the dialogue inside our mind. However, we are much more than just our thoughts, we are the force that moves through our mind, spirit and body. Knowing this helps us overcome our fear of quietness and silence, we can have peace knowing that when our minds are quiet, we are not losing touch with ourselves.

3. Breathe, you’re alive

For a moment I’d like you to stop reading and simply pay attention to your breath. I’ll wait…

As you focus your attention on your breath, you’ll notice that your breath is neither voluntary or involuntary. It is something that you do, but at the same time something that “does you”. When you focus your attention on your breath, you come back into relationship with reality, because like breath, reality is both something you do and something that “does you”. It is co-creative. Practice conscious breathing to bring your mind back to the present.

4. Music for meditation

There is a lot of great music made to assist with meditation. My personal favorite though is Stan Richardson’s Japanese flute music. Every time I play it I can feel it’s peaceful energy wash over me. Music made for meditation can help us bring our attention back to the present and clear our mind.

5. Practice mindfulness

This isn’t so much of a tip as it is a staple in living in the present. Practicing mindfulness means we practice our awareness in all our actions. Whether we are washing dishes or tying our shoes, our mind is focused on whatever we are doing. We are not thinking about the bills that we have to pay, or the phone call we need to make when we get to the office. We are simply living in the moment.

I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have any more tips or insight into how to improve mindfulness and awareness of the present, please leave your comment below. Thank you for reading!

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125 Comments on "How to live in the present"

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[…] appreciate being dugg or thumb’d on my newest article, if you find it valuable. Thanks in advance! – How to Live in the Present __________________ Authenticity, Clarity, […]

I saw you commented on a thread of mine and a post. Thank your for that. As for this post, brilliant! Much of Buddha’s sayings have been a huge impact on my life and have definitely allowed me to become who I really want to be. I once did a post on mindfulness for an older blog of mine. I believe that mindfulness is one of the best ways to live. Rather than regretting your past or fearing the future, be present. Look around and you. What you have really is “amazing”. Great post and keep em’ coming.
Robert @ reason4smile
Hi Jonathan, thanks for sharing a great article. I agree with you on accepting who you are right now, I have recently watch a great video by Dan Gilbert, it mentioned that we will be much more happier when we think that we are stucked with our decision, hence we will be much more thankful and happy with our decision. I have shared some other insights about being happy with your decision. The article is also based on the video above. From your article, the message that really struck me is the mindfulness, I’m a person who is easily distracted,… Read more »
Robert: Yes I am new to the “blogosphere”. I’m still trying to get the hang of things, but I’m just doing my best. Mindfulness is really the path to happiness, when we practice mindfulness within all of our actions we see the truth surface and the noise falls away. If you haven’t read it already, I recommend Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Peace is Every Step”, or any other books by him for that matter. He writes on mindfulness with lucid penetration. Zack: Thanks for sharing your insight and comments. Mindfulness transforms our lives because we look to the present for meaning,… Read more »

Hi, Jonathan.
Thank you for your well thought text. Right now, I’m seriously considering this issue.
May God bless you.

Hi, I agree that we should live in the present, not the past, because what is real is the present. The past was gone and will never come back. But I think we should also plan for the future especially if we want to have a better future. The future will be real and will become the present. No one wants the future to become a bad present and a bad past with regrets.


Tim Brownson

Good work Jonathan and well worth a Stumble for anybody else visting.


Great article. I can really relate to your point about not trying to quiet the mind because it only makes matters worse.
I think the best thing about living in the moment is that it truly does allow you to live what you love, and that makes for a much happier, healthier, and less stressful life.


[…] 3. Stay in the present. […]


Great again…

Do u agree that you are all there IS or how do u interpret that???

If I am not asking 2 much, can u email me your answer or post it here…thxxx


I love this concept and when I have practiced it, have been the happiest I have ever been in my life. Words to live by and definitely worth revisiting and honing. Thanks for reminding me!


[…] learn from the past, live in the present and make the future better.  If not that, then at least, LIVE IN THE PRESENT. […]

ved sharma

thanx for such a good articale…actuly it made me realise that if we are living in present we nutralise the effect of past bad experiences..and you feel a new energy flowing inside your body and defeats the very puropse of people who keep flashing on your mind due to some bad reasons..


love your article! i think the world would be a much better place if we all practiced living in the present…


Thank you very nice article it help me a lot again thank you..


Well your article seems to change my mind realising I apreciate people more because without comunication between us our mind goes deep in shadow. thanks


It is all too important to live in the present time. We have no future in out past but the future is what we must move towards. The only way to affect our future and move towards it is to work on the present, where we actually have some control.

Chloe M.

..a year after reading this article..and I’ll have to admit that it has changed my perception of the world. Perhaps to a fault..
Mainly because..since I live in the present..I get over anything and everything after 48 hours…
No matter what I felt 2 days ago..I don’t remember. i have a memory..but it isn’t important.
The now is important..just somehow I find that all too cruel not to remember all that well..what my past was like.
I’m least.


Thanks dude!, this really is inspiring =) i live way too much in the past, it’s time to focus on the present so hopefully with keeping this article in mind ill be able to do it.

dudu georgescu

Is it living in the Present or in the Presence? See if you can see the difference!!! For those who have eyes and ears…..


reading this reminds me of zen buddhism

Krishnaraj n s

enjoying each moment in the present and loving your work are tha gateway to happiness. the god becomes immensely pleased with attitude and inteelegince we have developed.

Hi everybody, i’d like to share my opinion (even if i’m french hihi). Since i was little girl as far as I can remember I had a feeling that I was a reborn, i wouldnt believe what they would say in my catholic religion,, I was a big thinker and I figured by myself my beleifs,,, and then I read all kinds of books till I found people that was thinking just like me and I discovered I had the bouddha’s thoughts. I was so glad,,, and then I got old,,, no luck in my love life,,so I brought up… Read more »
fahd masood

yes this is a good topic and quite good information that i wanted to know. but can you please tell me about how to forget about the bad stuff that has happened in the past. and also i would like to know how you can not think negative about the future E.G. im going out to see my mates but i have a negative thought that im going to have a bad time before i even go out or beofre it even happens.

fahd masood

i would like to know how you can not think negative about the future E.G. im going out to see my mates but i have a negative thought that im going to have a bad time before i even go out or beofre it even happens.




Thank you. It’s amazing how living in the Present has immediately changed and started to heal my relationship with my wife, as with the flick of a switch. I am really surprised and a now a devout believer of living in the Present. Perhaps this is what nations living in war for millenia could benefit of…

Hi.. When i got home my mother and i started to argue because of one thing.. I am constantly blaming her for what i am right now. I always look at the past and say the words “WHAT IF”, after thinking of things that might happened suddenly i will start to think of my future, plan the things i needed to do, try to adopt and make my own life from my current situation. That is how i live in the present always think of the past and always planning for the future. I know that this is not right… Read more »

Hi guys, thanks for the excellent advice..I am trying to live in the present now.But there are few disturbing thoughts in my mind. I feel like i am hearing some noise in ears.. its not always quiet or peacefull. how to overcome this???


i enjoyed reading.i will trying these thing to improve my leaving.thank you very much for this beautiful article,plz continue writing on such subject.god bless u

nice . it helps me a lot and i enjoy reading. But i have a question you quys can help me .? uhm what about daydreaming ( like for example what if i will be a milionaire, the way i will spend my money, or the moment when i’m with someone i realy love and having great time. something like that ).? is it healthy beacause every day i love day dreaming i completes me. but on the other side i think im not living with reality. what can you say .? i hope for your respond coz im confuse… Read more »

shiela we all daydream some more than others ,is that bad? what could be termed as bad(this is mind talking now ….not mine but ours …..that inner guidance )is guilt .and yours that is ours plays these roles.roles that are there for us to start watchin….witnessing.lets let guilt be for a while and and become friendly with our emotions,movements lets start loving ……everything because all this was created by something that is so great that all one can conclude is to adore .xx


useful and refreshing article, the bit “ can have peace in your heart knowing that everything that should happen will.” helps great deal to be calm and not worry about the future..

Raman Sharma

Thanx Very Much to provide such a wonderful article i hope it rejoice my life again


thx alot,I think it help us to change our life,some sport can help us to live in moment ,and can help to improve our focus
,it workes try it.


Nice article.Gives a tripped mind something to do.


But dont we need to plan a future?or in my case,a career.Ive only been doing drugs since 6 years and lost control over life,disillusioned.Living in the present tells me there is no such thing as Time and it is only a concept of the mind.Do we have an End??that must be a concept too.
wipe out veils with awareness.


This is awesome, helped me re-think about my life.
I think Ive always needed this kind of advice. Thanks.


Thank you so much, ive read your article and was stunned when i changed my outlook, aka perspective of life, i’m always dreaming of the future, while its great and helps for a better life it doesn’t help when life is literally passing by, moments in time that you cant get back no matter what, its like giving it up for when you get to the end, I’m living the moment now, (The Breathing Technique is a real eye opener) thanks to you and for your truly inspiring words. THANK YOU!


This is the article for which iam searching for…………

[…] If I am being mindful of my actions and thoughts, then I am attentive to what is really going on–the reality that is the present. The actual present. Not the random intrusive thoughts in my head while I vacuum, or all the internal grumbles passing through when I unload the (goddamned) dishwasher, not fantasies or projections of the future, but what I am literally doing, and keeping my mind on the task at hand. I’m practicing sort-of narrating when I do something. I am not sure if that is the “right” approach, but for the moment it is helping… Read more »

Whatever bad stuff happened in your life is coming back to your mind in form of thoughts. Practicing #1 above will slowly help you prioritize present over past and you will learn to regard such thoughts as a mere noise and you will also learn to focus on the present.


[…] Further ReadingLive in the PresentTips on how to live in the Present Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]


we are here listing our views and it seems all of us here have already had a fire started.that fire was observed by the witness in us and made us inquisitive.somehow all that was needed was to confirm that inner witness that has started to come so sweetly to our without feeling any guilt(watch out for this)lets start patiently observing this great creation and start enjoying.


Very nice article. I’ve been participating in a workshop that touches several of these points mentioned here and I relate to them. Thank you.


[…] adventurer lives in the present. He tends not to worry about the past, or the future. Life is meant to be lived in the […]

I’m sorry, but I think you guys are all full of it. Live in the present? What does that even mean? I can’t pick a career or a college because that’s in the future? Can’t anticipate anything? Ever? What the big-time proponents of this philosophy don’t tell you is that if you take life so seriously, that you can’t ever imagine anything, life becomes very rough. Hard-hitting existential discussions never help anyone. Trust me, I’ve tried. They just weigh you down and make you feel miserable. Some of these same people will tell you you must let go of all… Read more »
I think the article is trying to explain that widespread social anxiety, perhaps the same kind of anxiety that you feel, is a product of a particular way in which we are taught to think, that is, that the constant accumulation of material goods is the purpose of life. Therefore we are always looking into the future – towards that point when you can acquire the lifestyle in which we are all taught to lust after. For example, there are many people who spend their life working to eventually retire with a nice house and a nice car, only to… Read more »

 @Adam121 Honestly that comment is not beneficial to any one on the whole fucking earth except you, you sound like a selfish close minded ass whole. Sounds like your knocking at this philosophy because it is to difficult for you to handle, ( the best things in life do not come easy). Open your mind and stop getting so much satisfaction from being able to disagree. 




 @Adam121 d


 @Adam121  You came here with quality

Clare Broyles
@Adam121 Hi Adam, I don’t think it is a mystical state. I think it is just ordinariness. Our mind is always making a story out of our lives. If you are prone to anxiety like I am then this story is about how things are going to be awful in the future if you lose control for a second. I lose touch with the ordinary. When I am outside I am in my story rather than seeing the trees. When I wash the dishes I am in my story rather than feeling the water. I find it harder to plan… Read more »

I liked the article as I am trying to stop worrying about future because it is disturbing my present.


Brilliant – thanks for your comment. I enjoyed reading the article and loved your comment as my constant worrying about the future and always trying to plan is ruining my relationship


Individuals living with Alzheimer’s are here to teach us how to live in the present.
Dr. Ethelle Lord
Pioneers in Alzheimer’s Coaching


Acknowledge the past, have no regrets, learn from mistakes. Live for today, enjoy this moment. And plan for the future.
If you truly want something and know where to start why not go for it, get that surge of motivation. Better to regret trying than to regret of never stepping forward. :) Good luck to you all.


i am a really hard person to get … mind has world of its own ….it wanders like any thing in future or in the past …this is is the first time i m giving a feed back on the internet …..this article is very inspiring …… thank you whosoever compiled or wrote it .
god bless u


Dont worry about it – I have got the same type of mind and so has my daughter. We are both sometimes quite random with our thoughts.

Try some mindfuness stuff and yoga


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