Living In The Moment – Why Is It So Important And Why Should You Care?

Living in the Moment“The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.” ~ Thomas S. Monson

If you think back of the best times of your life, you might realize that those moments were when you were living in the moment.

The only problem is, most of us spend every day of our life thinking about what was and what will be.  In the meantime, we’re totally oblivious to BE in the moment.

But does it matter at all if we can or cannot live in the moment? And what does this all mean anyway?

Why Living in the Moment is so Important?

“Life is available only in the present moment.” Thich Nhat Hanh

A very easy quick answer to this question would be that’s because “the moment” is ALL we have to live. We can’t live in the past, because it’s past and over with, and we can’t live in the future because it doesn’t exist yet.

Even if you were the richest and most powerful human being on this earth, there is no price you could pay for having a minute back or for going somewhere in time that doesn’t exist yet.  And this is because the PRESENT is ALL we have. We’d better take full advantage of it NOW.

But a very important reason why we need to learn to live in the moment, is that it’s a close relative to happiness. Ask any successful and happy people you may know, and they’ll tell you that one thing they are doing is they “live in the moment.”

Haven’t you heard that statement before? I am pretty sure you have.  But did it mean anything to you at all?

What does it mean, really, to live in the moment? We are going to discuss this in detail below, but before let’s see why it it’s kind of hard for most people to do so.

Why it’s not Easy to Live in the Moment?

“We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.” ~ Bill Watterson

If you can, start to observe your own thoughts and behaviors, and see what happens.

Do you catch yourself thinking about what happened last week, yesterday or even years ago a lot? Do you think about the good old days – a lot? Or do you think about how things will turn out –  a lot? Where are you going to be in five years from now? Where your children will be in five years from now, etc.

While there is nothing wrong to reflect on the past and thinking of the future, it’s not healthy if ALL you do is thinking about the past and the future, because it prevents you to live in the moment. In the present.

You’re thinking you’re not doing that! Think again.

If your mind is never where your body is, it will make your life more chaotic, more difficult, less enjoyable and more forgettable. In the end, it will prevent you from enjoying life all together, because remember, you can’t live in the past and you can’t live in the future, but if it’s where your mind is all the time, what happens to your life now?

For the most part, what makes us not live in the moment are our worries, our pains and other negative feelings and emotions.  Because when things are great, those are the moments we do live in the now. Then they become good memories that we relive over and over when life start to suck again, and we start forgetting to live in the moment again.

What Exactly is Living in the Moment?

“You can’t go back to how things were. How you thought they were. All you really have is…now.” ~Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

Living in the moment is being fully conscious of where you are with all your senses, and taking it all in.

You don’t have to be in a happy state to live in the moment, it could be any situation, some good and some maybe not so good. But it’s important for your growth as a human being that you learn to accept what’s going on at the moment, and taking it in as it happens.

I’m not saying, if you’re suffering, make sure you take it all in and enjoy it. I’m saying live it and go through it.  You will come out stronger than ever.  It will help you grow and you will get to know yourself so much better.

Avoiding to live in the present, when the present is painful, is the very reason why some people fall into addictions.

They have a problem, but they don’t want to live through it, or face it as it is.  And it’s too much for them to avoid the NOW by just living in the past or future in thoughts, so they stone themselves in order to escape the “moment” which is so very uncomfortable to them.

They escape their now in the worse possible way. Not only they’ll never grow from whatever they’re going through, but they’ll end up being dependent on their drug (whatever that may be) with more problems (bad nows) to flee from.

A bad vicious circle to be in.

Now, I’m not saying that’s always easy to live in the moment, because if you are not in the habit of doing so, it might actually be like a coach potatoes starting to exercise. Yes, it could be tough for some, but anything that you’ve never done before is tough anyway.

The first time you walked was tough. The first time you talked was tough. The first time you grew a tooth was tough, even the first time a woman gives birth is tougher than the second time she gives birth.

So we get that!

Starting to live in the moment when you’ve spent a life time avoiding to do so, always being somewhere else in thoughts, wondering about what went wrong with that meeting yesterday or what you’re going to make for dinner tomorrow as a daily habit, can make living in a moment a tough exercise at first.

However, you can do it, one step at the time.  This is how…

Live a Moment at the Time

“A life is measured by moments like these” ~ Maggie Stiefvater, Shiver

Do you remember when you first started walking or talking? Well, maybe you don’t remember, but what you did was taking it a step or two at the time,  and only saying a word or two at the time.

To get into the habit of living in the moment, you should take the same approach.

Choose a moment or two of your day to BE in the NOW.

Let’s take a very simple example like opening a door. This is an exercise that life coaches like to use a lot, because we all open at least one or two doors in the course of day. The average person is going to open more than that.

Do this exercise…

As you open a door, do not allow yourself to be anywhere else but in THAT MOMENT.

Just before putting your hand on that door knob, take a big breath and become fully aware of where you’re standing. How does the floor feel to your feet? How does the room smell, how does the temperature feel?

Now, grab that door knob and take the time to feel it. What shape does it have, and how does it feel in your hand? Feel its smoothness or roughness. Feel its temperature; is it cold to the touch?

Then open the door.

As you’re stepping into that new room watch yourself as you’re stepping from one room into the next. Is there a temperature difference? Does the air smell different? Does the floor feel different to your feet?

Make sure you’re taking it all in, and fully live that moment, each time you open a door during the day. Ane make sure you’re taking it A DAY AT A TIME.

No matter how much you’re going to go back in your thoughts and inner chatter for the rest of the day, give yourself that ONE moment each time you open a door.

Life is about habits, and if you get into the habit of doing this each and every day, each time you open a door, you will end up doing it automatically after about 21 days.  In about a month time, you will be more AWARE of what living in the moment really means, and you will be better able to do so.

Why Should you Bother?

Why should you even bother with such exercise and strive to live in the moment?

Because it’s one of the key to happiness and growth.

However, there is nothing I could say or write to fully make you grasp that concept, only if YOU try it yourself will you fully become aware of what I’m trying to convey to you right now.

So, do yourself a favor. If you don’t really live in the moment day by day, start doing this exercise, and start living in the moment more and more often. Then, and only then will you be able to understand what living in the moment can do for you and for your life.

Your Turn Now…

Do me a favor and answer these couple of questions; do you find it easy to live int he moment? How often do you realize that you are truly living in the moment?

Please, let me know and add any thoughts or input you may have. It’s all good!

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34 Comments

  • Adam Dukes says:

    An excellent read on the power of living i the now. A gift for Christmas of mine was “The Power of Now” and I plan to dive in soon. I am getting better at not worrying about the past/future, but is is a difficult thing to do. I like the exercise you suggested about taking it all in before opening the door — the smell and feel of the room. The feeling the differences between the two rooms. Being aware. I need to make this a habit as I know after 30 days it’ll make a huge difference.

  • Donna MerrillTwitter: donna_tribe says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    Yes, I do find it easy to live in the moment several times a day. When I take breaks from my computer screen, I look out the window and feel the sun on me. I become aware of how the floor feels beneath my bare feet, what smells are in the air. I like to go through the five senses. All the while, feeling grateful where I am at that moment.

    Because I have been doing this exercise for a long time, it comes easy for me.

    I like the example you gave by opening the door. I know it is difficult at first to do these exercises, but once you start, it does become a habit. And what a wonderful habit to have!

    When things are really hectic, and I cannot get into that state of mind, I just lie down with my dog and listen to him breathe. I do believe that animals help us be in the moment because that’s the way they live. I’m sure you experienced so much with your cat.

    Our pets help us to be in the moment for those who find it difficult. Just watch them and mimic their breathing, their peacefulness when they are asleep. That works for me in the most anxious times.

    Well Sylviane, that’s my two cents!

    -Donna
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Donna,

      I am not surprised that someone like you would be familiar with this and practicing it on a regular basis.

      I had to smile when you said that you lay down with your dog listening to his breathing, because I do the same thing with my cat.

      Cats are excellent at encouraging you to be lazy, so they’ll lay there with you and purr at a low pace, and that’s got to put you in the moment.

      Yes, Sophie does put me in the moment a lot. Probably more than anything else. You’re right, that’s what pets do, because they KNOW how to live in the moment. That’s what they do. They are great teachers at that as you know.

      Thank you for bringing this valuable point out, and thanks for coming and sharing this 🙂
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  • AdrienneTwitter: adriennesmith40 says:

    Fabulous share Sylviane and I totally agree.

    Although I’m not perfect at this I do really really well at staying in the present moment. It’s really not hard to do but it’s normal to think of things like you said in the past or what you may want to happen in the future.

    I play with Kayla several times throughout my day as well as take her outside to do her business so those are the best times to just stay present and think of nothing but what you’re experiencing right then. Of course when I’m working online and responding to this comment this very moment that’s all that’s on my mind too.

    When things start to get out of whack it’s best to just breath and remind yourself to just calm down and get back to right now. Scott’s Mom dropped by this morning and we both had some moments but I did much better moving through it since I’ve had more time to accept the fact he’s really gone. Those are the hardest times for me.

    I am overall a much happier person living in the now though. As we all know we can’t change the past and the future isn’t here yet. We can plan and do the best we can but those things are out of our control so obsessing over it or worrying about it all the time does no one any good, especially us.

    Wonderful advice Sylviane and I love this myself. You are definitely spot on here girl. Thanks for this message.

    ~Adrienne
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      As in the case of Donna, we pets’ moms (and dads) know how our furry kids remind us to live in the moment. She was saying how just listening to her dog’s breathing helps her do that, and I have many of those moments with Sophie. I plunge my whole face in her fur and give her HUGE kisses and I fully live those moments 🙂 I can understand you have those with your Kayla 🙂

      Of course, when we lose a loved one those are not good moments, but it’s also important to live them fully, while it’s OK to remember them when they were here as well.

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post, and have a great day!
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  • Barbara CharlesTwitter: BarbaraCharlesl says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    Years ago I read a book. I don’t remember what the name of it was, but it was something like ‘Living In The Now’ and talked about the same thing and ‘living in the now’ or the moment. The book talked about we live either in the past (thinking about the past) or what we’re going to do in the future and that we had to learn to live in the now.

    The problem is it is not that easy. One of her exercises was just touch your hand (something like the door) and just feel your hand and think of nothing outside of that.

    I practiced this because I had just gone through a bad breakup and was devastated, hurt and kept thinking what if. I was either thinking of the relationship or how I wasn’t going to have it anymore. The past and the future.

    I started focusing on just my hand and nothing else. It took a lot of work and quite a bit of time, but eventually got over it.

    This info is great especially for those who are not aware of how we think. We just go about life living in the past or the future and never really enjoying the present moment. Great article.

    Barbara
    Barbara Charles invites you to read..Over 50 EntrepreneursMy Profile

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Barbara,

      I’m glad that you’re familiar with this concept, but I know that we all need some reminders about living in the now, as it’s so easy to let it slip and never even realizing we’re doing it – even when we know about it, so let alone for those who don’t.

      Thank you for your input 🙂
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  • GladysTwitter: coachgladys says:

    Hello Ms. Sylviane
    I hope you are well.

    This is an excellent article. As I started reading, I could not stop smiling. Very impressive for those that have not learn to live in the moment.
    It is the opposite of reflection, because when we reflect it is usually the past.

    But when we are in the moment…Ah it is refreshing to use all the five senses. I enjoy living in the moment because I find peace in the moment.

    Thank you again for this great and impressive article.

    Gladys
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Gladys,

      I’m so glad you could relate with this post. Truth be told most people don’t “know” how to live in the moment, that’s why this type of information is so important to them. When I first learn about this, it was totally knew to me.

      Thank you for coming by, and sharing your thoughts.

      Have a great day!
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  • Sue PriceTwitter: suejprice says:

    Hi Sylviane

    Excellent advice and something most of the people on earth should read as not many people do it (me included). I have some times when I am in the moment. I do meditate and do yoga but most times my mind is racing ahead or somewhere else.

    I am actually reading the book Adam mentioned – The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle for about the third time. I do understand the importance of “now”. An example I saw him give in an interview with Oprah was peeling a potato. He suggested we think of nothing but the peeler and potato and be with it.

    This subject always makes me think of John Lennon’s words “like is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans” —- so true.

    A great post Sylviane as always.

    Sue
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  • Sylviane Nuccio says:

    Hi Sue,

    Well, we all need this information and reminder you know. Me too. It’s part of our complicated brain to go somewhere else while we’re here, but in the end “HERE” is all we have. I love that phrase by John Lennon.

    Opening a door, peeling a potato, brushing your hair, or biting in an apple, it’s all good exercise moments we can use. They’re all good as long as we practice them.

    Thank you for coming and have a wonderful day!
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  • Harleena SinghTwitter: harleenas says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    Wonderful post indeed 🙂

    I think we ALL need to read and understand this post because we honestly don’t live in the moment, no matter what we say we do. I don’t, though I write a lot about it because it’s a part of what I want to do. But yes, I do that when my work load is less or when I go for my morning walks and am one to one with nature.

    Living in the moment, the now is SO essential, and I liked the little exercise you mentioned, which sounds easy to do as it makes you so much more aware of yourself and your surroundings. I used to do a lot of these but nowadays it’s just hopping from one task to another with hardly any breather time. I know it’s bad and I must slow down. So, this is a great reminder for me. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Harleena,

      I’m glad you can relate to this topic. You’re right, we are all falling short of living in the “now” more often than we should.

      Like you when I walk or run in a park, those are moments that I take the nature around me all in and enjoy the moment. Those times are the easiest times to really live in the moment, that’s why I love it.

      When we learn to catch our thoughts more and more, we realized that we are always somewhere else in thoughts, it’s like our mind is so buzy. When we live in the moment we slow down and quiet that busy mind of ours.

      Thank you for your input and have a wonderful day!
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  • Kumar GaurawTwitter: kgauraw says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    Glad to be here and thank you for such a wonderful reminder to all of us on the importance of living in today, living in the now!

    You are right about this is the key to happiness. When we live in the moment, we are living and that’s such a refreshing feeling. I do practice the technique you shared with us whenever possible (although this isn’t something I can claim to be doing daily).

    And whenever I do, I feel much more alive and present. It brings peace and comfort.

    Thank you for a great value addition to your awesome blog!

    -Regards,
    Kumar
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  • Mitch Mitchell says:

    I think it’s hard for most of us to live in the “now”, or the moment. When it’s something significant one would think we’d do it, and yet two of the most important days of my life, my high school and subsequent college graduations, I don’t remember anything about the day other than on the day I graduated high school I saw my first lava lamp and the day I graduated college I saw the only sunrise ever in 4 years there. lol

    These days I tend to capture more of those moments during the day when my mind goes into “story mode”, so that if it ends up being something I can use later then I’ll recall it. Otherwise, like most people I seem to find my way around town, work, food, etc, without any conscious thought. I will say that what replaces it is a lot of future thought instead of past thought; I’ll take that for now. 🙂
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Mitch,

      By what you’ve experience there we clearly see how we are not in the “now” a whole lot. usually when we don’t remember anything about a specific day, that’s a good hint that we weren’t living the moment at that moment.

      Personally I really try to live in the moment (in the NOW) more and more.

      Thank you so much for your feedback, and have a wonderful week ahead!
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  • William ButlerTwitter: wiarbu says:

    Wow Sylviane,
    I really like this post. Spiritual intelligence is one of my favorite topics, which is all about being, as opposed to doing. When our physical, emotional and intellectual capacities are in alignment, then spiritual intelligence is activated.

    I like what you said, “Living in the moment is being fully conscious of where you are with all your senses, and taking it all in,” because living in the now requires courage and focus. I’ve read similar concepts from Eckhart Tolle and Steve Pavlina.

    I enjoyed all the quotes you included in the post too. Very thoughtful 🙂

    Have a great weekend!
    Bill
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Bill,

      I like that fact that you’re the second person telling me that this post reminded them of what Eckart Tolle says while I’ve never read this myself. A good sign in my book 🙂

      I love it that you like my quote too. I know that you love this topic as you are an excellent writer about it yourselt. I know you fully understand all of it.

      Have a great week ahead and thanks for coming
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  • Molly says:

    Fitting that this was Judy Martin’s last tweet. She tweeted the link to this post yesterday. She died Friday evening (January 31, 2014). I will miss her energy, but of course, she isn’t gone. She has morphed into the Collective All.

    Her gracious dynamism will be missed.

    Let’s all remember to live in the moment.

  • Ali Davies says:

    Your article was the last article my friend, Judy Martin, posted on twitter on before her sudden and unexpected death on Friday. It is a great article and the circumstances under which I found it make it even more poignant.

    Knowing what Judy stood for and her sudden passing, it is somehow fitting that this article was her last tweet.

  • Zach says:

    Hey Sylviane,

    Awesome read, I think that it really great to see someone talking about this really important topic! I think that it’s crazy to think that we have such a hard time focusing on just one thing – even as I’m typing this out I can feel myself going through all the things that I have to get done for the day!

    I’m planning on trying the exercise you mention and it remind me on something I read about mindful eating! If you can learn to focus on what you are doing and what you are eating you can live a happier and more fulfilling life!

    Thanks for posting,

    Zach

  • Alexis Marlons says:

    Honestly Syviane, I have to admit that I am always living for the future instead of the present. I always think of what will happen of every action I make as well as I am preparing for my family’s future. And these reasons are making me realize that I am not enjoying my life to the fullest and I am always working too hard instead of spending more time with my kids.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Alexis,

      Sorry for the late reply here.

      Now if you realize that you’re not living in the moment enough, it’s time to take some action and start improving in this regards. I know it’s not always easy, but being aware is a start.

      I’m glad you came by this post.

      Have a great day!
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  • Mary StephensonTwitter: maryjstephenson says:

    Hi Sylviane

    Thanks for the reminder and good way to see if we really are aware of the here and now. Pets, as some have said are really good examples to get us in touch with now. I think we are inclined to get lost in our thoughts of what was or what we need to do. Of course we can’t entirely live in the now or we would have not projection ahead to do anything. The chatter in our head pumps on and we do need to keep it under control or we find ourselves living in some other kind of world. I try not to dwell on the past, but somehow it keeps being drawn back in. Trying to replace it with more now or future which is probably a better trade off. We have the past, with its good times or its lessons, but that is probably all we should visit the past for.

    Happiness is only in the present, projecting ahead means we probably don’t have it, in the past means it is gone. So you really do have to be in the present to enjoy happiness, good point. I can see what you mean by people with addiction.

    Mary
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Mary,

      I’m glad you can relate to this topic.

      Yes, we all have a tendency to go back in time, and it’s also a natural thing because our past is part of us. At times a very emotional part of us as that, so it’s only natural to go back to it.

      This said, however, that’s not where we live so while we go back there it’s always good to remember to get out of it and come back in the now as soon as we can.

      Thank you for your feedback and insights, Mary.
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  • CarartaTwitter: ArtaGene says:

    Hi Sylviaine,

    After a moment of introspection, I found that if I am honest, I tend to spend
    a lot of time in my tomorrow…which of course is still in the pending.

    Being my father’s daughter, I tend to walk around with a “Glass Half Full” which
    is great for being inspired to work towards a goal, but does nothing for the pile
    of old mail on the desk top that needs sorting and discarding.

    I often went to his house before he died and did this chore for him. Always asked him why he didn’t do it each day and got the same answer, “I always mean to do it tomorrow.”
    He was always so busy planning and working towards his dream of financial freedom with his real estate, that he couldn’t be bothered with many small tasks that made up the foundation of his dream…like organized record keeping

    So even in mundane tasks, living in the moment has its reward.

    It’s funny, when I first saw the article title it sent me down the path of remembering when those words conveyed a happy-go-lucky person who flitts from one care free situation to another, never accepting responsibility for themselves or their lives.
    C.
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  • Larry Rivera says:

    Hi Sylviane, great topic. I have been doing martial arts for the 20 years. My training has taught me to always be in the moment.

    Never in the past or the future just be in the now. It is in the now that we are free to be.

    Thanks for sharing

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