You DON'T Have Time: How We Waste the Present

The hardest thing to do is live in the present. The future is unknown, and the past is unchangeable. 

But when we’re living in the present, we’ve got all of time at our disposal. And yet, we keep squandering it. We spend so much time worrying about what might go wrong tomorrow that we forget to appreciate what’s going right today. Even if you don’t consider yourself a pessimist by nature, it’s easy to fall into this trap from time to time. If you find yourself constantly worrying about what could go wrong or stressing over where your life will be in six months or a year from now, then you need these tips on how not to waste the present. These are things that will help you stop dwelling on uncertainties and focus on enjoying your life today.

an oil painting of a lion walking along the beach

Don’t waste time with unimportant decisions.

We’re indecisive creatures by nature. We agonize over what to wear in the morning, whether we should order pizza or Chinese for dinner, and where to go on our next vacation. And then we end up sitting around doing nothing because we can’t decide which one is best--even though in the end, it really doesn’t matter. Ask yourself what your goals are: if you want to get the most out of your time and be as productive as possible, then you need to stop worrying about those unimportant decisions that take up time and energy. Stop letting yourself get bogged down with thoughts like “should I eat cereal or oatmeal?” or “should I work out now or after work?”

Don’t worry about things that you have no control over.

The first step to living in the present is to stop worrying about things that you have no control over. For example, say your boss is under a lot of pressure and you think they might be looking for a scapegoat soon. You could spend the day worrying about what might happen, but that won’t do anything to change it. It’s easy to fall into this trap when you can’t control what will happen in the future. But by wasting time on thoughts of all the bad things that might go wrong, you’re missing out on spending time on what you can control. That includes taking care of yourself and your relationships and working hard at your job today. Don’t let fear get the best of you. Fear is one of those emotions that never really does anything good for us, even when we think it should be there for our own protection. Fear is often the reason people don’t go after their dreams or take risks—they want to avoid getting hurt and stay safe instead. But staying safe means never knowing how amazing life could be if we just took a risk or tried something new instead. This doesn’t mean being reckless; rather, it means being smart about how you handle fear instead of letting it guide your decisions for you. When faced with a tough decision, ask yourself: Is this something I want? If the answer is yes, then go ahead and do

Stop spending time on social media.

One way to not waste the present is to stop spending time on social media. Social media isn’t all bad, but when it becomes a distraction from what’s happening in your own life and starts to affect your personal relationships, you need to take steps to remove it from your life. If you find yourself scrolling through Facebook or Instagram instead of interacting with the people around you, then it’s time to log out. Digital detoxes are gaining popularity as more people realize that their online presence can make them feel miserable if they don’t use it wisely. It can be hard at first, but once you get used to being offline for a few hours here and there, it gets easier.

Take care of your body and mind each day.

To start, it’s important to take care of your body and your mind each day. Do something that makes you feel good. Whether it’s meditating for ten minutes, going for a jog, or making a healthy meal—whatever it is, make time for it in your schedule. You deserve to be happy and fulfilled!

Remember that this too shall pass.

It’s easy to get caught up in the anxiety that tomorrow will bring. You could miss out on so much if you don’t enjoy your life today. But what does this mean? It means that it’s okay to feel anxious about the future--we all do it from time-to-time--but it doesn’t mean that you can’t also live in the present. The only thing worse than worrying too much about the future is not enjoying what you have now. So, when you find yourself fretting over what might happen tomorrow, stop and take a deep breath. And then remember this saying: “This too shall pass.”

Commit to something you love doing.

If you find yourself constantly worrying about what could go wrong or stressing over where your life will be in six months or a year from now, then you need these tips on how not to waste the present. These are things that will help you stop dwelling on uncertainties and focus on enjoying your life today. Commit to something you love doing. This can be anything that gives you a sense of purpose and helps keep your head out of the clouds. Whether it’s volunteering, being an active member of a community organization, or finding other ways to help people, committing to something will make it easier for you to stay grounded in the present moment. Find activities that anchor your mind at all times. If you want to use exercise as an example, but find that it's difficult for you because of time constraints or other limitations, try looking for activities with a similar effect like yoga or walking meditation. It doesn't have to be intense exercise; it just needs to keep your mind focused on the activity instead of dwelling on worries about the future.

Conclusion

As we reflect on the end of the year, it’s natural to wonder what we can do differently to make 2019 the best year yet. It’s easy to think that the solution is to spend less time on social media, to cut back on screen time, and to get outside more. This is all good advice, but it assumes that you’ll have time to do those things in the first place. But when you look at your calendar and realize that you have work obligations that will fill up most of your days and nights, and then you see your inbox filled with obligations from friends, family, and coworkers, it becomes clear that you are in conflict with yourself. You want to take care of your body and mind each day, but you also want to find time for your loved ones. The solution is simple. You need to commit to something you love doing. And you need to do it now.


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