5 Simple Steps to Be More Present

Being present hasn’t been easy lately for me. I’ve been thinking about what we’ve accomplished this year (which has been a lot!) and what our next steps might be. My preoccupation with these thoughts has made it difficult to be here (wherever I am), in the moment, and at peace. But I’ve been trying to be more present in my life and I’ve realized that being present takes conscious and consistent effort.

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With practice, I’ve made good progress and I’ve become happier in the process. Some little things that I’ve done recently that have worked include:

  • Waking up earlier (and sleeping earlier) so that I can have some moments of silence and peaceful thinking in the early mornings.
  • Eating slower by seeing, smelling, and tasting more consciously. Rather than going on autopilot when eating, I have tried to appreciate the food I eat while I eat it. Slowing my eating pace has allowed me to curb my overeating and naturally eat foods that are healthier.
  • Taking longer walks after dinner, not only to help digestion, but to also relax at the end of the day.
  • Running without music has allowed me to hear my breathing and the sounds outside again, smell the scents of the outdoors more vividly, and to be more aware of what I pass by as I run.
  • Being with my kids when I’m with them, whether it’s watching cartoons with them (rather than just turning on the TV for them and doing my own thing) or helping them with their homework by being at the table together.

Being present also comes with it’s wonderful surprises, as it did for me, once I started paying attention.

On a recent night at Emily’s bedtime, I decided to let Emily read me a bedtime story. Shewas delighted with the sudden role reversal and picked a random story that she had recently read on our iPad. Her choice was titled “What Does It Mean to Be Present?,” which surprised me, but I was instantly intrigued how being present would be described to children.

So I sat up, gave Emily my full attention, and listened to the story. She read with ease and flipped from page to page. The story was very simple and painted a clear picture of what being present actually means. The story shares a poignant reminder about being present for any reader, young or old:

Being present means living in the moment.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift—that’s why we call it the present!

So tell your friends what it means to be present.

And spread the word—

when we’re all present, life can be much richer, fuller, and happier!

~By Rana DiOrio, “What Does It Mean to Be Present?”

So how do we actually live in the moment to experience a richer, fuller, and happier life? Here are five simple steps you can do in your life right now to be more present:

  1. STOP – Stop your distractions whether it’s TV, email, music, social media, news, or whatever diverts your attention.
  2. FOCUS – Do the things that matter most whether it’s prayer, meditation, exercise, spending time with your children and/or spouse, or working. Concentrate your effort on that one task that you’ve given yourself by looking, listening, and engaging all of yourself.
  3. SLOW DOWN – Don’t rush through bedtime stories or family dinners. Take long walks to wind down after a hard day. Sit down and have thoughtful, meaningful conversations with your coworkers, friends, and/or family.
  4. BE THANKFUL – Appreciation is the antidote for anxiety. It’s really hard to be worried when you’re busy being grateful. Be thankful to be doing whatever it is that you’re doing.
  5. JUST BREATHE – If all else fails, just breathe. One big breath in and one big breath out. Then repeat for as long as needed to get yourself settled and back in the moment.

Cliff Hsia is a writer, husband, and father, who is determined to live a better than normal life by traveling the world, slowly and purposefully, with his wife and two young daughters. His writing has been featured on MSN, TODAY, The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, and other publications. He writes about travel, parenting, and lifestyle design.