Ten Steps to Positivity #9: Live in the present

So... this may be slightly contradictory, given the benefits of goal setting that involve visualising a brilliant future.  Putting that to one side, a lot of anxiety and unhappiness revolves around thinking patterns which focus on the past (leading to remorse and depression) or future catastrophes (increasing levels of anxiety and tension). 

It's easy to spend our lives waiting - waiting for the weekend, waiting for the right time to make a decision, waiting for the weather to get better (definitely a Scottish concern!).  We can live our lives waiting for a future - which of course is always a day away - and not noticing the fabulous things that surround us in the present each and every single day.  

I have a tendency to keep focussing on the time when I will be better (good enough, even?) It moves my thoughts into that elusive future tense, means that I stop enjoying the journey - the improvements I am making on a daily basis - and definitely induces a state of anxiety that is not serving me in a positive fashion. 

The solution?  Take time to jump off the treadmill and just be.  Perhaps attend a mindfulness class or get some guided meditation CDs or apps.  The important thing is to spend time - only a few minutes at first - being present in your body, not associating with all the thoughts flying through your head, but allowing your attention to fall inwards, on your breathing, your heart rate, the feeling of clothes on your skin.  Just breathing and slowing things down.  It takes practice.  Give it a try.  

Also, when you catch your anxiety levels rising because of some imagined disaster looming, interrupt that pattern - change your physiology, shout (to yourself or out loud!) STOP! Then take a stock check - remind yourself of other times you have worried about events that have never materialised, be honest with yourself about the likelihood of this current situation coming to fruition and reassure yourself that whatever happens, you can cope.  

 

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If there are steps you can take immediately to improve things - stop worrying and take action.  If not, accept the situation and become present.  Most of the time, when you become present and bring your focus back from the future, or the past, life becomes better. 

Remember, positive visualisation and goal setting is a great way of growing and becoming more positive but that does not mean that we should spend our lives playing out future scenarios and willing those future goals to materialise.  Use the goal setting exercises to influence your actions in the present and give you a sense of purpose.  Then, make sure you enjoy the journey and celebrate your achievements along the way. 

What do you think?  What steps do you take to make sure you are more present more of the time?  I'd love to hear!