It has been psychologically proven that living in the moment makes people happier and healthier. So if you’re been looking for a reason to get off autopilot, to be more spontaneous, and to live in the moment, now is the time.
It’s about mindfulness.
The Buddhist term “Mindfulness”—which has become hugely popular in the 21st Century—is at heart the art of living in the moment.
In fact, when most people think about Zen they don’t think about the Zen meditation—the practice of sitting on the floor focusing on their breath—they think about living in the moment.
Buddha himself said:Do not stay in the past. Do not dream of the future. Concentrate on the present moment—Buddha quote. Click To Tweet
But here’s the deal:
- Living in the moment makes life easy
- But it is, ironically, not easy to live in the moment.
The Facts About Living in the moment
We are happier and healthier when living in the moment
We are unhappiest when lost in thoughts or past or future
Even when thinking about pleasant things we are less happy than we are when we live in the moment
We spend 47 percent of the time thinking about something other than what we’re doing
During sexual intercourse we focus 90 percent on what we’re doing
We are least happy when on a computer and when idle, at which times we are most prone to not living in the moment
What Living In The Moment Means
Let’s get one thing straight:
The idea of “living in the moment” is backwards, because we are always living in the moment.
If we are not living in the moment, where the hell are we?
It’s not like we can travel back or forward in time. We are always in the moment. It just doesn’t feel like it. And the reason it doesn’t feel like it is because we get lost in our thoughts and in our preoccupations.
What living in the moment really means is this:
- We are not concentrating on ideas of the future
- We are not thinking of memories of the past
- We are surrendering consciousness to the physical aspects of the present moment
- Surrendering to the moment means living via the senses rather than via our automatic thoughts
Read that last point again. It’s vital.
Living in the moments means not being lost in our automatic thoughts. It doesn’t necessarily mean being spontaneous in the strictest sense, but simply not being on autopilot.
This is where all too many people get confused. We do not have to stop thinking in order to live in the moment. We can be consciously creating our thoughts and still be living in the moment. But we must not be mindlessly lost in automatic thoughts.Always say yes to the present moment. Surrender to what it is. Say yes to life. And see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you --Eckhart Tolle Click To Tweet
Mental Health Benefits of Living in the Moment
Living in the moment is essentially what Buddhists call mindfulness.
The mental health benefits of mindfulness have been written and spoken about a great deal over the last few years, but to give some highlights.
- reduces stress
- boosts immune system functioning
- lowers blood pressure
- reduces chronic pain
- helps with cancer
- lowers the risk of heart disease
- makes us happier
- makes us more exuberant
- increases feelings of security
- increases empathy
- improves self esteem
- We get to be spontaneous
- lowers the symptoms of depression
- Increases overall mental strength
- And this is just a snapshot of the health benefits of mindfulness.
This Harvard study basically proves it
Psychologists at Harvard University studied 2,250 volunteers and collected data about their thoughts, feelings and daily activities. 
(Not surprisingly) they found that people were happiest when having sex, but also when exercising and when in deep conversation. And people were least happy when resting, using a computer, or working.
At all times of unhappiness that test participants experienced heightened levels of mind-wandering.
The researchers conclude that not living in the moment makes people unhappy.
Here’s the amazing thing:Thinking about something other than what we’re doing makes us unhappy even when we think about something pleasant. Click To Tweet
This 2006 study backs it up
In 2006 psychologist Matthew Killingsworth  developed an iPhone app that asked participants what they were doing at random times. Participants were given 22 activities to choose from, including chores, shopping and watching TV. They were asked to rate their happiness out of 100 and to say whether they were focused (living in the moment) or daydreaming about something good or bad.
The results showed that people are happiest when living in the moment and unhappiest when lost in thoughts or distracted.
Killingsworth states that being distracted makes us unhappy and that are level of present moment mindfulness is more important than what we are actually doing.
In other words: you will be happy or unhappy based on whether you are living in the moment regardless of what you are actually doing.
Why don’t more people live in the moment
- Researchers at Harvard have discovered that the average person spends 46.7% of their time thinking about something other than what they are doing.
Living in the moment essentially means being in control of our consciousness.
Whenever we are in control of our consciousness we are living in the moment. And when we lose control of our consciousness, we stop living in the moment.
Understanding this is huge:
To stay in the moment we have to stop losing control of our consciousness.
So why do we lose control of consciousness?
There are many reasons for reduced consciousness and for not living in the moment:
- Because we get lost in TV, the internet, media etc.
- Because we get consumed by automatic thoughts.
- Because of narcotics that alter our consciousness
- Because we spend too much time daydreaming
- Because we get lost in memories of the past
- Or fantasies of the future
- Because we feel dissatisfied with the present moment (Buddhists call this dissatisfaction “Dukkha”)
10 Ways To Live in the moment
1. Focus on the benefits
Being motivated means having a sense of reward. To be motivated to be mindful, remind yourself of the benefits of living in the moment (see above).
Think about the last time you really lived in the moment. (According to Harvard you were probably having sex at the time).
Remember how good it felt to live in the moment. Your thoughts were silenced. You were living in a state of pure bliss.
When you escape your thoughts you live in moment. And when you live in the moment you actually enjoy your life instead of being consumed by thoughts, worries, anxieties, and stress.
Remember how good it feels to live in the moment, this will motivate you to carry on that way.
Mindfulness is a Buddhist practice that trains us to live in the present moment. It’s both a traditional meditation technique and a general term referring to our ability to escape our thoughts and to focus on the present moment.
Mindfulness helps us escape our thoughts.
This is huge, because the only way to live in the moment is to not live in our thoughts.
To do this, we need to cultivate a mentality of mindfulness, the mentality of an open mind, where we observe our thoughts without judging or grasping at them, but simply being aware of them.
When we stop grasping at our thoughts, they slip through our minds with the ease of water, loosening their grip on us, allowing us to live in the moment.
As well as practicing the traditional meditation of mindfulness, it’s a good idea to learn some mindful habits too.
Mindful habits are little activities that we do to bring us back to the present moment. For instance, I personally love to shower with my eyes closed and to focus on the feeling of the water (note this doesn’t waste water—it’s just as quick to shower with the eyes closed as open, so we are still being environmentally friendly)
Look for some opportunities to do some artistic improvisation.
If you play an instrument then make up some tunes on the spot.
Or you could try some acting improvisation, comedy improvisation or even freestyle rapping!
Have fun. Be spontaneous.
So many people live like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day (remember that movie?). They wake up. Live their lives on rewind. Same damn day every damn time.
Kill the repetition.
Novelty is one of the most important parts of neurological health. You want to make your mind stronger, step one is to get out of the rut. Break the rewind button on your life.
Can be tricky though.
Your mind gets into habits.
That’s why one of the most important daily habits is to do something novel. Something different.
Two smart strategies:
- Ask a friend.
Here’s how to do the second one.
Ask a close friend: “What is the one thing I would never do that would actually be good for me?”
When your friend tells you what it is, you will naturally not want to do it.
You will not want to do it because their suggestion will interrupt your idea of yourself.
Your mind will think “This isn’t me. I’m not doing it”.
The entire point, however, is to open your mind. And to do that you need to force yourself to do the thing your friend suggests (provided it does logically benefit you). If you do this it will revolutionise you. That is a Pauly-Promise.
4. Be spontaneous
To live in the moment, look for opportunities in your life to be spontaneous.
- Talk to strangers (just not in dark alleys)
- Read random articles online
- Take alternative routes
- Start a random conversation on Facebook
- Practice random acts of kindness because you don’t need a reason to be nice
One way to make your brain healthier is to do new things every day and to be spontaneous.
5. Be a big kid
Kids have great vitality levels and of all the things kids love to do, pulling faces is perhaps the oldest and most popular.
So, you know what to do!
Start pulling faces, laughing out loud, being silly and having fun.
If you want to escape your thoughts and to live with vitality start playing around. Just mess about. Have a laugh. Go nuts. Not Gary Busey nuts, but fun nuts.
Fun is super important.
It’s funny how when we get old we forget to have fun. Actually no it isn’t funny, it’s sick. Society forces you to be a machine and to work for the man. Well, the man can go and f**k himself as far as I’m concerned. I live for me. And for me to be happy and to live with vitality I have to have fun.
Go be merry. Have a laugh. Never underestimate the importance of fun.
6. Break rules to smash your your habitual thinking autopilot
Try to challenge the rules in your life.
For instance, if you don’t think you’re very athletic just go out for a run anyway; you’ll find it very uplifting. Do things you don’t normally do. When you do this you
So obviously it is the oldest cliche in the book but the rules were made to be broken.
But let’s get much more specific than that.
If you want to live with vitality you need to break the rules of your own mind.
You know all those things you would never let yourself do? Maybe there are some people you won’t speak to because you don’t get along with them. Urgghhh. That’s a little shallow minded, aint it? How about we change that? How about we break that rule of your own mind? Go talk to those people you would never talk to. It will open your mind.
Break your own rules and you will live freely and with vitality. And you will also escape your thoughts.
7. Mimic Other People
I used to ask “How can I live in the moment?” And “how can I be Now”. But then I attended drama school.
Yup, drama school.
When I attended drama school several years ago, and during my time as a professional actor, our group would frequently use mimicking exercises in order to make us work on impulse, to take control of ourselves away from our thoughts (by mimicking someone else’s actions) and to live in the moment.
Physical movements are one of the main ways in which people feel self conscious. No other place illustrates this more than the dance floor.
Likely we all know what it’s like to feel awkward standing on a dance floor. “I look like a fool,” we think. “How am I supposed to move my arms?” “ Why are people looking at me?”
You know who dances well? People who live in the moment.
And one way to live in the moment is to mimic other people.
In a slightly insane former period of my life (while studying as an actor) I would actually walk a short distance behind someone, and I would copy their every move. Yes, this sounds insane. But it was an exercise a drama teacher gave me, and it worked.
Mimicking other people forces us to move in new ways and to do new things. And this is the absolute best way to break habits, to be spontaneous, and to live in the moment. Just make sure the the other person doesn’t see you.
8. Tell others to join in
Exercises like those above are always more fun with at least a couple of people, so tell some friends about the exercises and get them to join in too!
Share this article right now and get your friends to join in with this. It’s a win / win. You help our site grow by sharing our articles. And you get your friends involved with this, which will help you out too. Total win / win.
There are so many health benefits of living in the moment. It makes us healthier and happier. With a little effort it is not even that hard .
There are tons of different ways to be spontaneous and to live in the moment, too.
For present-moment mindfulness we can practice Buddhist techniques like meditation. And then there are fun games and activities for spontaneity.
How much of the time do you spend living in the moment? And what exercises and activities do you do to stay in the moment?
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