How Living In The Moment Will Help You Reduce Stress
The predominant way of living in our Western societies is to plan out our lives for the long term and on a day to day basis.
We have digital calendars that map out our lives and planners, sometimes to the minute. We believe we’re in control, with plans in this way.
As I’ve said it’s nothing but an illusion.
We cannot control our lives to this extent, no matter how hard we try. Things will consistently come up to spoil the best-laid plans, and the more detailed our strategies the more of a guarantee that something will FAIL.
When the strategies FAIL, and what occurs? We are stressed out, because things get out of our control and do not live up to our expectations. This is among the greatest sources of stress for most of US, actually.
Think about how often your days really go according to plan, exactly — it’s rather rare, because we don’t have any method of forecasting the future. Regardless how hard we try. There is always an email that can interrupt things, a last-minute assembly, cancellations and postponements, crises and fires to put out.
So if plans will typically go wrong, and when they do we get stressed out, is not all the time we spend creating the strategies a bit of a waste?
But what is the choice? Giving yourself to the moment. This will not work for everyone, I’ll confess: there are people who cannot work or live like this and will have a hard time giving up the illusion of control, and others who are controlled peers or by their managers.
However, it’s something worth contemplating. Here’s how to do it — beginning with the don’ts:
Do not plan
Preparation is an attempt to control the world around us, but it is a vain effort. Throw out your plans, for now at least until you have determined this approach is not for you. What do you do? More on this below. For now, only cease planning.
Don’t try to be proactive
It is a common prescription (being proactive) in direction and business literature. And while I believe the general thought is fine — do something to prevent problems from recurring rather than just repairing them once they happen — one of the difficulties this creates is constantly worrying about what might occur. And before there are difficulties creating alternatives — if there never is a problem, you’ve wasted lots of time creating the solution, as well as plenty of energy worrying regarding the future.
Don’t have expectations
Should you hope that things will turn out a particular way, or expect individuals to behave a certain manner, you’ll always encounter issues. Forget about results for now. Go into matters without expectations, and they will consistently turn out totally (if a bit dirty).
Do not get annoyed when others act a specific way. Don’t expect people to act any way other than how they actually behave. They are exactly the way they should be if that’s egocentric or bizarre or competitive. Those are their problems. Your problem is figuring out how you should act. I’d also counsel you to attempt to understand others do they behave how they do?
Don’t worry about the future
Will something bad happen? Are there things coming up that we must expect and prepare for? Obviously, if there is a huge hurricane you ought to probably get prepared. But otherwise, only realize that the future is worrying about it’s a waste of time, and unpredictable. Concentrate on right now, and you’ll always manage to manage what comes.
Do not overreact
This really is a major issue when folks strategy and things go wrong — they blow things out of proportion, and get distressed and emotional and overreact. Remain calm, because if things “go wrong”, they did not actually go wrong — they just occurred. More on just how to react below.
And for the dos:
Do not be closed
What would it be like to go into each day without a strategy, but merely to see what occurs? A bit frightening, because of the shortage of control and protection, a bit chaotic perhaps, a bit like we are a section of driftwood floating in the center of a churning sea. But in truth, this is what it’s like to go into each day *with* a strategy — it is simply that we normally fool ourselves about the total amount of control we’ve. So begin the day free of plan, and be open to what emerges in each second.
Do answer suitably
Life occurs, and we have to respond. But instead of overreacting, we can respond calmly and appropriately. We repair the problem can take the action that’s required, do what’s crucial to prevent it from happening again, and proceed without it destroying our day.
Do what you love
So what should you do, now that you’ve got no plan? Do what you’re enthusiastic about, do what excites you. Create something astonishing. Pour energetically into a project. Build something new. And what you think you’re creating might turn out to be entirely different from what emerges, but you’ll have fun doing it and something even better might be disclosed.
Do act, in the instant
Giving yourself to the second does not mean being passive and merely letting life happen. It means doing what’s best in the present, what you are excited about right now, what needs to be done, at this moment, although behaving.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Video
Accept what happens
It is what life has given you, what has resulted in an unpredicatable world from your actions, although it may not be what you considered ideal. Accept it, react, act, proceed. Do not get caught up in things not going your way, but accept that’s what has happened.
This way of living will not be for everybody. Some don’t have the freedom to live this way, and others just won’t give up control. Some will believe this is really a passive way of living, but it really is not: it’s just a method of living in the moment without being caught up in the future (or the past) so much.
And when we live in the moment, we’re actually living life to the fullest. This really is the gift of the present.