UPDATED 3/17/2019 Our ambitions and goals tend to be future-based. Personal growth, often viewed as a sprint toward some faraway finish line. But, what if you stopped that sprint to focus on the present, to rekindle your passion in life, and celebrate the life you already have rather than the one you want. With small changes, you can say yes to the life you have and be more present every day!
How to live in the present moment
When was the last time you celebrated you? If you’re like most people, you probably take for granted waking up, breathing, and life in front of you.
Sometimes, in our excitement about life’s possibilities and being open to all the future may have to offer, we forget to celebrate the gift we are given each day.
I think most of us have dreamed a time or two about winning the lottery. And I believe most of us would say yes if someone offered to serve a winning lottery number to us on a silver platter. Seems like a no-brainer, right? But not so fast. How often are we actually being given a winning lottery number in life only to say “no” instead of “yes.”?
There are many things we know work, which would make our lives healthier, happier, and more fulfilling for ourselves and make a big difference in the lives of others. But yet we continue to say no, or not even realize they are right in front of us! Sounds crazy, but it is so often exactly the case.
It’s often easier to say “no” than “yes” especially if “yes” brings you out of your comfort zone. While the unknown is scary, think about the opportunities that may await you that you’ll never know about because you said “no.” The unknown may bring you fulfillment and happiness like you never experienced.
Here’s a great example from psychologist and New York Times best-selling author, Rick Hanson, Ph.D. Say yes to something you like, something neutral, and then something you don’t like. Does “yes” feel differently every time? He encourages you to say it in different ways.
Hanson points out that you’re not saying that you approve of every situation, but you’re accepting what life throws at you.
It’ll improve your well-being, improve your confidence, by making you happier plus it can open the door to new opportunities and relationships.
So how do we recognize those winning numbers more often so we can say yes? What are some of these “keys to the kingdom”?
- Stress management.
- Accepting your life for what it is.
- Practicing gratitude.
- Learning from your emotions.
- Being instead of doing.
- Eliminating clutter and negative energy.
- Being authentic.
1. How mindfulness will help you focus on the present
The first step in saying “yes” to the life you have, is to live in the present moment and accept it for what it is. You can’t change the past and you can’t predict the future. Feel and experience the present moment by practicing mindfulness daily.
The first step is breathing! The breath is powerful, and when you take a moment to breathe and focus on the environment around you you’ll begin to accept your life as is.
In this technology-driven world, there’s never been a more important time for mindfulness. How often do you find yourself looking at your phone during dinner or family time? It’s best to put it away, focus on one thing at a time, and experience those moments with your family. You may even try a technology timeout!
The practice of mindfulness goes much further than putting down your phone. There are great tools to help you transform your thinking so it’s second-nature to live in the moment.
This mindfulness guide will help you practice mindfulness daily, so you’re happier, manage stress better, and sleep better. Mindfulness is even shown to help with chronic pain, anxiety, depression, cancer, and chronic disease.
You can do this in as little as five minutes a day. Taking five minutes for yourself really can make a difference in your life.
2. Stress management
While mindfulness will help you begin to manage stress better, you may need additional tools if it’s overwhelming.
The 12 Journeys video is full of inspiring and thought-provoking moments to help you wash away the tension, anger, and pain. In just two minutes, you’ll see the path to gratitude so you can find a path forward toward happiness.
One way to stay in the present is to take a day-by-day, step-by-step approach to change one area of your life at a time.
Most of us are stressed out. The
Be Less Stress Guidebook will help you with motivation, activities, and resources. You’ll lower your stress, feel better, and achieve a greater well-being
3. Accepting the life you have
Third, accept the life you have. When you say “yes” to your life, you’re accepting it for what it is even if its painful. Don’t wish for something you don’t have. Embrace and appreciate the assets, flaws, and imperfections within your life.
Clinical psychologist, Leslie Becker-Phelps, Ph.D., points out that when you accept your reality, you’ll experience a changed life like you never could continuing to live in denial.
In “Accept Your Pain; It Will Hurt Less”, Becker-Phelps talks about the ancient Buddhist formula: Pain x Resistance = Suffering.
Part of this is accepting your emotions and learning from them. Don’t be angry that you’re angry over a situation at work or at home. Embrace the anger. You’re feeling that emotion for a reason. Phelps says emotions are not wrong!
Don’t resist or bury who you really are. While you can always work toward becoming a better person, some things you just can’t change. It’s your DNA and traits you’re born with. Celebrate what makes you different. It’s what makes you who you are. So, don’t try to change your uniqueness!
For example, Phelps talks about introverts. They often get anxious in certain situations and they feel like something is wrong with them for feeling that way. Instead, Phelps encourages introverts to focus on the positives of being an introvert. These people often have fewer but more deeply connected bonds with others.
In the introverts example, they created their own pain because they didn’t accept themselves for who they are. When you’re “ok” with who you are and the life you’re living, you’re happier and at peace.
Think about angry people. It often evokes negativity, but when used appropriately it can lead to change and be quite positive. Think about the Me Too movement, and how anger sparked so much change! While nothing will ever erase the burden these women feel, saying “Me Too” is allowing victims to release the pain they felt ashamed of for so many years. Many of the victims blamed themselves for the situation, even though often they were not at fault.
Compassion is a two-way street. You always hear about being compassionate to others. Take a moment, and have some compassion for yourself. Give yourself grace and accept yourself for who you are. Let your true personality shine. It’ll be liberating!
Part of acceptance is learning to be grateful. Recognize the positive points in your life, and celebrate them.
Journaling is a great way to reflect on your life, soul search, and find gratitude. Inspirational author, Madisyn Taylor, offers some writing prompts to help you on your happiness journey.
A gratitude journal is a perfect first step toward finding things to be grateful for in the life you’re currently living.
This may be difficult if you’re not in a good place, but when you fully embrace and actively practice gratitude, you are well on your way to accepting and appreciating the life you already have. And you are better able to recognize blessings, even when things don’t go exactly like you wanted them to.
When you’re focusing on the things you’re grateful for, and actively thanking and showing that compassion to yourself and others,
Once your self-evaluation is underway, celebrate what you’re grateful for in your own life and then show that gratitude to others who’ve perhaps made a difference in your life.
You’ll not only feel better, but you’ll also rewire your brain to think this way more often. Focus on “what” you’re grateful for and “why.” It’s the combination of the two that leads to noticeable change like better sleep, a healthier lifestyle, less stress, improved relationships, and more positivity.
5. Learning from your emotions
Fifth, learn from your emotions so you don’t continue to fall into the same emotional rut. For example, an angry person should practice anger management. To do this effectively, and learn from it, you have to find the source of the anger.
Log your emotions and triggers. Then, look for patterns so you can begin learning why you felt the way you did. Is there something you can do to break the cycle of always feeling angry?
Psychologist Guy Winch calls this learning process, “emotional first aid.” You have to change your mindset and perspective and change from being a glass half empty to a glass half full person.
These are 7 secrets to happiness, so you can begin to learn from your emotions.
6. Being Instead of Doing
Do you ever feel like life is like a hamster wheel? You’re constantly running from one thing to another, never fully embracing what you’re doing because you’re too worried about the last or the next thing? You’re just doing it, rather than being.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hamster wheel of life but stop for a moment. Reflect, and be you!
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, follow these steps to find happiness in a busy world. They’ll help you focus on the present moment, rather than always running to do something. The basic concepts are listening more, doing one thing at a time, and finding your “one thing.”
7. Eliminate clutter and negative energy
When you begin to focus on your one thing, and narrowing down your endless To-Do list, you may realize your life is full of negative energy and clutter.
It may be physical clutter, mental clutter or both. When you acknowledge the clutter exists, you’ll be able to open yourself up to new opportunities. Start decluttering your mind with these powerful tips, so you can say yes to the life you have!
Letting go of things that weigh you down, will allow you to experience a new kind of freedom!
Think about how cathartic it is to clean out a closet or your garage. The same is true for mental clutter!
8. Being Authentic
Now that you’re practicing the above principles, you are well on your way to saying yes to the life you have. An authentic transformation is probably underway because you’re accepting who you are and showing it to the world!
When you truly embrace Oscar Wilde’s quote above, you’re saying yes to the life you have.
When you’re authentic, you’re real and revealing. It’ll make you happier too! How much of your true self do you reveal to the outside world? It’s probably a fraction of who you are.
Author and speaker, Mike Robbins, equates it to an iceberg. Usually, only the tip of an iceberg shows above water. How much of your true personality are you hiding below the surface?
Embrace the journey of life
Personal growth, often viewed as a sprint toward some faraway finish line, is more akin to a marathon, the point of which isn’t finishing but finding new paths and trails to explore along the way. In other words, it’s more about the journey than the destination.
Easier said than done, I’ll admit! The key is to stop resisting what we at first see as an obstacle and instead look for the hidden opportunity. That may come in the form of a lesson to be learned or something we could do to put us back on the path we were on before we hit the roadblock.
Take time to acknowledge your feelings. But then resist the urge to fight reality and to become bogged down with wishing it wasn’t so. Dig deep, find the yes, and keep moving.
While it’s important to be open to the many possibilities for growing and improving, it’s equally valuable to accept and be thankful for the life you already have.
What are you saying yes to today?