Living in the present moment

By Jordan Luxton

How many times have you heard the phrase, “carpe diem”? This Latin term, roughly translated to “seize the day”, is possibly the most widely used phrase to encourage someone to live in the present moment and put off worrying about the future or the past. Like many things in life, this is easier said than done. Certain problems in your past are hard to forget and even harder to overcome. On the other end of the spectrum; the future is a mystery, troubling the mind with questions of what is to come. But by living in the present moment, it will become easier to let go of your past, and secure a future you’ll be happy with.

Too often, we forget to experience or enjoy the little moments in our everyday life, because of thoughts of the past or the future. Instead, savor the moment you are in, whether that be sitting down at a restaurant for dinner or listening to music in your spare time. Merriam-Webster defines mindfulness as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations”. Studies have shown that when people slow down their outside thoughts and immerse themselves in their current situation and just breathe, allowing themselves to be mindful, they report experiencing more joy and calmness. This is because the majority of negative thoughts are found to be focused on the past and on the future. Blocking yourself into the time and space you are currently in will have a positive impact on your mood and behavior.

This is the start to allowing yourself to build for tomorrow and break away from the past. The present is a gateway, separating your past and future. Close the gate on the past that haunts you. Instead of worrying about the future, put those thoughts and energy into the present that affects that future.

My high school football coach once said something that has stuck with me years later. He often started and ended our summer practices with speeches, to motivate and inspire us. One particular morning, he said the following, “Don’t count the hours; make the hours count”. This quote doesn’t apply only on the football field; it applies to everyone in every aspect of life. How often do you find yourself counting down hours, days, or weeks until some big event you have on your calendar? Two weeks until spring break, two months until graduation, two years until you move out of state. Don’t be so fixated on passing the time until these events occur that you lose yourself in the time in between. Instead of focusing your thoughts and energy on counting the hours until these things, make all the hours up until these events count.

The day will never come when all thoughts of our past and fears of our future will completely disappear. These are necessary to a point. Our past shapes the person we have become, and has taught us life lessons we need to apply. Thinking about the future keeps our long term goals in mind, and long term planning can be effective. It’s damning to let moments of our past and thoughts of our future overtake our ability to experience our present. The present is so named because it is a gift; experience every day with your full heart and ability to do so. Carpe diem.