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How to Be Happier – Live in the Present

When my son was born, I was given lots of advice. One suggestion I remember distinctly was, “stay present.” I blew the comment off, at the time, thinking, “Well, of course.” But it’s so easy to be physically present and mentally elsewhere.

When you read, read. When you exercise, exercise. When you work, work. A practice that’s so simple, yet so hard to do. I’m never doing or thinking about just one thing.  When I’m with my young son, I’m thinking about the next time he needs to eat or sleep, or something I need to do. Instead of sleeping, I think about things I’m worried about. I’m often preoccupied, wondering how I could have handled something better. In summary, I’m terrible at being present. And it’s the root of a lot of suffering.

I was told long ago that there is only suffering when we’re not present. If we’re worried about the past or the future, we’re elsewhere. Be in the here and now, and there is nothing to worry about. I just wish it wasn’t so hard to do.

I’m working at this ‘being present’ thing, and there are a few things that I find help. I hope they help you too.

  1. Don’t carry your phone with you all the time. I don’t carry my phone with me when I’m with my son. That time is ours. The phone is a distraction for both of us.
  1. Set an alarm (on your hidden phone) 10 minutes before something needs to end. I set an alarm on my phone, which is away or face down, 10 minutes before I need to leave lunch, etc. with a friend. That ensures I’m on time for my next commitment and focused on the conversation versus being concerned about being late.
  1. Deal with what is weighing on you. If you’re worried about your finances, health, or a deadline, act. Ask for help. Do something to move closer to your goal.
  1. Have a conversation you know you need to have. If there is something left unsaid and it’s weighing on you, pick up the phone and speak up.
  1. Don’t over commit. Over committing is sure way to be stressed, unhappy, and not present.

Lots of people set New Year’s goals or resolutions. Mine is simple. I want to worry less and enjoy more. I want to live in the present.

 

About 

Shari Harley is the founder and President of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the U.S. Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Culture’s training programs at www.candidculture.com.

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4 Responses to “How to Be Happier – Live in the Present”

  1. Maura says:

    Happy New Year Shari! This one really hit home. It’s nice to know, in a perverse way, that I’m not alone with being physically but not mentally present. Saying it this way articulated the problem more clearly and will help me work on changing in the new year.
    Thank you!
    Maura

  2. A wise man once said…

    “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

    This helps me be present.

    PS – Thank you for your blog.

  3. Jim Dye says:

    Good stuff, as usual. Thanks!

  4. Tammy Gribble says:

    Thank you for this timely message. I will be using your suggestions to help me with this goal for 2018.

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