I do my best living in the present. That does not mean that something happening in my life that may be exciting and mind-blowing (or potentially so) doesn't get me dreaming of the future. I sometimes look back on an interaction with someone who I may be interested in or in a romantic relationship with to work on figuring something out between us. Often this is when communication hasn't been direct and is in need of clearer explanation. Any time I do either the potential of me being dissatisfied with my present moment increases. Being taken out of the place where I am most certain, which is the NOW is a recipe for less joy than more so I work on nipping that in the bud.
We are a culture that promotes going back over the past, over and over and over. As a life coach I work on helping others move forward in whatever way they need to. One of those ways is to be more present with an understanding of what was being non-existent (though important) and what will be being imaginary. We can't live in fairy tale land. What we can do is set goals based on our desires and spend each moment holding that goal in our hearts and in our heads so that our future (the present moment) becomes more and more what we have dreamed. The past has its place, this is true, but it needs to stay there and be used accordingly instead of being the guide and mentor (not even well-meaning mentor) that it usually is for most.
It isn't easy, now living. It is harder than doing 500 push ups. At least 500 push-ups have an end. Staying present is ongoing until your flame is extinguished. In order to stay in the moment, living from a place of openness and calm, you have to be diligent and unrelenting, especially as you reprogram yourself to let the voices get quieter and quieter. We hear a voice talking about what he or she said before and if they really meant it, then we go on with another voice and discuss how it is obvious that they don't care or do care or want to care or whatever… and then maybe you have another voice that says that everyone is making a big fuss out of nothing (it is crowded in that head of yours). What we normally do is stop everything and become rapt with attention to the voices. We may run a red light listening so intently to the arguers in our head. We may forget what we went into the kitchen in the first place… we may forget a meeting because we are so preoccupied with the drama in our head.
Getting off of that merry-go-round is challenging at best, damn near impossible seemingly. It can be done. It must be done. Even when living in a war-torn country you have moments of peace. You have moments of quiet. You have moments where there is no one yelling at you, torturing you, arguing with you. Living in your own war-torn country that is your head is a never-ending groundhog day from hell. It doesn't have room for the present moment, so you are stuck on repeat. Repeating whatever the feelings were, whatever the issues were, over and over. All the while you miss the moments where nothing is happening, nothing awful or stressful… and most moments, the vast majority are absolutely lovely. You decide: peace, calm, love vs. panic, worry and fear. These are your choices when you are living in the now or living in the not now.
What will you choose? How often?