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How to Live in the Present

Many people find it difficult to focus on what they are doing, or what they need to do, right now. You may become so transfixed on a job interview, your next vacation, or another important occasion in the future that you neglect the task in front of you.

Or you may worry about some event in the past, like an argument you had with your spouse or even something that happened in your childhood. When you do this, you take time and energy away from the work or errand that requires all your concentration now. Current activities demand all your thought and focus to run smoothly.

Living in the moment is another term for mindfulness. You need to engage in what is going on right now, this moment, this second, to live life to the fullest.

If you spend too much time re-evaluating the past or thinking about the future, it will detract from living in the present. With all your thoughts elsewhere, your real-time activities suffer.   

If you’re living in the future or the past, you may talk yourself out of taking chances now to improve your life. Ignoring the present, or making decisions solely based on worries about the future or past, may result in poor outcomes that hurt your personal life or career. You’ll also waste time that could be better spent making new, positive memories.

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Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness simply means paying attention to what is going on around you. Instead of thinking about the past, the future, (or looking at your phone), you are listening to, and participating in, the scene happening around you at a given moment.

Being aware of what you are doing and thinking in the present moment reduces depression and anxiety. You will develop better self-esteem and be more empathetic. A mindful person is less likely to act impulsively or fall pray to negative thoughts caused by self-absorption. Mindfulness can help prevent overeating, drinking, drug abuse and other harmful habits caused by negative thinking.

Learn to control your thoughts. Don’t let them run rampant and control you. Incorporate meditation, journal-writing and other methods into your daily life to promote the calmness that helps you think clearly.

The brain’s anterior cingulate cortex, part of the pre-frontal cortex, regulates the stress that often causes inconsistent thinking. When the ACC functions poorly, it may lead to impulsive decisions and excessive worry. Meditation can help control the ACC and allow you to manage stressful situations better.

Meditation Helps You Stay in the Moment

Meditation is one of the most important tools for staying mindful. You don’t need to sit cross-legged like a yogi to meditate. Sit in a chair or on the floor in a room or other place where you will remain undisturbed for ten to fifteen minutes.

Breathe slowly and relax your muscles. Feel the breath in the center of your stomach and a free and open sensation in your chest. Focus on the breath as you inhale and exhale.

Be aware of the sensations throughout your body, especially tense areas. The chest, neck and stomach are most likely to retain stress. Focus on the problems areas and visualize your breath cleansing them of tension.

If it becomes too difficult to visualize the tense areas and de-stress them, go back to meditating with the breath normally. Remember that you are experimenting on the tense areas to see what will happen. Don’t purposely try to heal them right away.  

Meditation has been shown to reduce wandering thoughts that occur in the brain’s default mode network. Wandering thoughts lead to worrying and depression, so meditating (even for a few minutes) will reduce excess activity in the DMN. Meditating also reduces volume in the amygdala, the stress and fear center of the brain, and increases thickness of the brain’s memory and learning center, the hippocampus.

A form of meditation called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is designed to reduce stress. Mindfulness meditation reduces self-referential thoughts, which tend to block out the outside world and cause both general and social anxiety. A study showed that both MBSR and aerobic exercise helped reduce negative thoughts, but MBSR also reduced stress-triggering activity in parts of the brain associated with social anxiety.

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Lose Track of Time (Flow)

Flow is a term for being so engaged in what you’re doing that you lose track of time. Artists, writers, musicians and athletes often experience this feeling when practicing or immersed in a project.

You’ll ignore external distractions and won’t have any internal ones because you’ll be so absorbed in what you’re doing.  An hour or more may pass before you realize the time. You can’t force yourself to achieve flow; it has to happen naturally.

Choose a task that’s somewhat challenging but attainable. If you have to read a book set a small, manageable goal like reading five pages. Once you’ve read five pages, read five more, and five more after that. As you become more comfortable and get in the “flow”, your five page at a time goal will become ten pages, then a chapter, and pretty soon you’ll finish half the book (or even the whole book).

Flow is similar to the physical “high” you get when running or exercising. What you’re doing makes you feel so good you want to keep doing it.

Don’t Overthink

When you are always “in your mind”, thinking about what could go wrong, or what other people are doing, it inhibits your actions in the real world. Engaging with others reduces self-consciousness and enables you to focus on the activity at hand. You’ll perform better at work, school or hobbies when you are “one with the moment.”

Train yourself to focus on the mechanics of how to do what you need to do and on what is going on around you. You should research and prepare the content and your slide show if you are giving a presentation for work. Don’t be concerned about how people will react, the mistakes you made giving a presentation in high school, or obsess over your clothing. Stay in the present and focus on how to improve every aspect of the presentation (including your clothing).

When you are focused on what you are doing, instead of thinking about things that may go wrong (the future) or things that went wrong in the past, you’ll do a better job. Focusing on anything other than the present has a tendency make people nervous and replace vital research and preparation time with negative thoughts. That worry, in effect, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.   

Mindfulness can also improve your personal relationships. If you think about how someone who had rejected you in the past, you may become angry and assume your date (or partner) will act the same way. When you stay present, you will see only how your current partner or date acts; you won’t jump to conclusions or compare them to [people from your past. You’ll only see what’s happening in front of you.

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Learn How to Savor the Little Things  

Experiencing life means taking time to savor everything, even having a snack in the park or talking to a neighbor. Relish whatever you’re doing, even performing a simple task like walking to the store. Research conducted by the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand showed the act of experiencing and savoring even the smallest daily task can increase happiness.  

Savoring small things can help teach you to live in the moment and prepare you to be present for important events. Rushing through life causes you to miss out on opportunities as well as small joys. Learn to slow down.

Volunteer

If you’re constantly focused on yourself, it will be easier to become lost in thoughts of the past or future. This leads to stress and overthinking. Look for ways to take the focus off yourself and on other people by volunteering as a tutor or serving meals to the homeless. Volunteering will get you into the present moment and help you see how trivial most of your problems are compared to what many other people endure.

When you don’t have a chance to go out on the physical world and volunteer, you can engage in remote volunteer opportunities or post a greeting on a friend’s social media site. Write a list of people you haven’t spoken to or contacted in awhile and contact them just to see how they are doing. Focus the conversation on what’s going on with them; don’t use it as a springboard for talking about your problems.

Thoughts Lead to Action

Our thoughts don’t control us. We control our thoughts, although many people act as though it’s the other way around. Mindfulness won’t eliminate anger, jealousy, sadness and other negative emotions, but it will make you aware of why you feel these emotions. You’ll be able to explore why you are angry, etc. and adjust your behavior to avoid those feelings in the future.

How Diet Affects Cognitive Function   

Eating a healthy diet and exercising helps you think more clearly and stay in the present. What you eat has an effect on your emotions and how your brain operates. A high-sugar diet can increase the likelihood of depression and worsens the symptoms of schizophrenia. This occurs because sugar  stops the production of the hormone BDNF, which is already lacking in people with depression and schizophrenia.

Other foods that can cloud your cognitive functions include:

  • Processed foods, like chips, Ramen, most frozen dinners, and microwave popcorn tend to be high in calories, salt, sugar and contain few nutrients. Consuming these foods on a regular basis can cause visceral fat around the body’s organs. Studies have shown that this can cause damage to brain tissue. 
  • People who eat a lot of fried foods and red meat experienced decline in cognitive function and an increase in inflammation over ten years, according to a study published in Clinical Nutrition.  
  • White flour and refined carbohydrates cause your blood pressure to spike due to their high glycemic index (GI). Eating a meal with a high GI can affect memory in people of all ages, but a diet high in refined carbs is especially detrimental to memory and cognition in elderly patients. High GI foods include sugar, white rice, potatoes, refined flour, white bread, raisins, grapes and bananas.

Other Ways to Ensure Better Cognitive Function

Exercise enhances cognitive function and makes you happier. Even simple daily activities like walking the dog or doing the laundry gets your blood pumping and keeps blood vessels healthy. On a cellular level, physical activity increases the mitochondria in the brain. Running and other exercises that increase the heart rate help boost the growth of brain cells in adults.  

You’ll also boost endorphins when you exercise, which will give you a feeling of overall well-being. Exercising also brings you in contact with new people. Taking a walk or going to the health club may not only make you physically fit, it can also expand your social life.

Meeting new people and having new experiences will put you into a “right now” frame of mind. You won’t spend time thinking about past relationships or hoping to meet better people in the future. New experiences are important for mindfulness. If you stay closed into old routines and hang around friends you’ve outgrown, you’ll never reach your full potential.

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Wheatgrass Aids Overall Health and Helps You Stay in the Moment

A balanced diet with nutritious foods provides you with most vitamins and minerals you need for mental and emotional health. Complementing your diet with Happy Girl Mood Enhancing Supplement from Wheatgrass Love provides you with all the nutrients wheatgrass has to offer and lots more.

Wheatgrass contains magnesium for better muscle and cognitive function, zinc, iron, Vitamins A,C, K, E, potassium, Vitamin B1, B2, B6, pantothenic acid, niacin, amino acids, and hundreds of enzymes. A Happy Girl tablet also contains a blend of nutrients designed to balance your emotional state.

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