It is widely agreed that if you learn to live in the present moment and to see life only as it is in that moment that you will find peace and simplicity. Peace and simplicity in turn lend themselves to feeling happy and feeling happy is feeling fulfilled which is what (on some level) everybody is looking for. A fulfilled existence.
Living in the past negatively is regretful, guilty and bitter. Living in the past positively is nostalgic and empty. Living in the future just leads to stress as you put pressure on yourself to achieve more than is natural or you start to wish and live in a daydream and sometimes never accomplish anything at all.
We do ‘live’ in the present moment at all times from a physical perspective but our stream of consiousness is not always there with us, which seperates mind and body and most often emotion causing a breakdown in communication in the whole of you.
In this unpredicatable life there are many things which can force us to jump into the present, most often these things are negative e.g. serious illness, accidents, stress and some are positive e.g. falling in love, capturing your baby’s first steps etc.
There are some tasks which merge the two e.g. painting a picture is a way of remembering the scene that you are painting but actively manifesting it in the present and any other task which requires your full attention normally is meditative and keeps you in the present.
But what other tools do we have for keeping us in the present?
If you are in a situation where you are not happy e.g. bad work/family environment or chronic pain often we run away in our minds to a time where it seems better. It seems easier to be in the moment if we are happy in the first place. It starts to become a chicken and egg scenario. Is forcing yourself to be in the present going to make you happy or is being happy enabling you to want to be in the present moment? In my opinion its both of these, the latter of course is the easier of the two. Once you have established deep-down contentment and happiness, being in the moment becomes easy. But what about the former. What if you are not happy, why would you want to be in the present?
I feel that it is necessary to at first discipline yourself. As in meditation for beginners, often we are told if our mind wanders to simply focus on the breath. Should we find ourselves in waking life not focusing on the task at hand to re-centre, gradually building a greater self-awareness. Are you aware of what you are thinking at all times? How many of those thoughts are repetitive? How many of those thoughts are damaging or negative? How do you speak to yourself in your head? Are you encouraging and supportive to yourself or harsh and critical?
Be mindful in every step you take and every task you do no matter how menial or mundane it may seem to be. Water the plants with love and mindfulness, wash the plates with mindfulness and attention, put your shoes on with mindfulness and attention to the present moment. Check yourself! Obviously there are subconscious thoughts etc. going on in the background but the general idea is to make life into a conscious meditation.
You will start to become aware of what makes you unhappy but break this down into small manageable steps and start to amend them in the present moment.