Being Present for a Fulfilling Life

What does it mean to be present in our own lives? 

Isn’t that a given? When we take some time to examine how we live our lives, we might be surprised how much of it kind of happens on autopilot. That is not entirely a bad thing. We can’t live our lives constantly present, we deserve breaks and living on autopilot provides us with some much needed balance. With many things in life, things get complicated when we become too one-sided and lose the balance between autopilot and being present. This is understandable because being truly present in our lives can be difficult these days.

There is always something on, there are always worries to be dealt with and there is always a sense of overwhelm lurking right under the surface. We live in a world where we are being shown content 24/7, social media is a constant in our lives and it is not always for the best. The impact of social media on our lives is well established (doomscrolling, anyone?) and hasn’t helped with being present in our lives. Quite the opposite – how tempting is it to just scroll mindlessly rather than being present in our lives? It would be too easy though to blame it all on social media. 

Being truly present in our lives isn’t something we have been taught. 

In addition to that, modern lives are often hard. There is so much pressure to deal with – making enough money so you can afford to pay your bills and buy food, mounting amounts of debt, the climate crisis, the silent epidemic of women being murdered as a result of domestic violence and multiple genocides happening all at once overseas. Who wants to be present for that all the time? 

We deserve to cut ourselves some slack. 

This is not to say that we should just turn a blind eye to all the awful things happening in the world. We must be aware of them as our humanity depends on it. However, being present in our lives deserves to be an enjoyable experience. So how do we do that? If you are someone who is prone to living on autopilot, it would be best to start small and ease yourself into being more present. Look at it as befriending this new thing so it feels less overwhelming or scary. Also explore what being present actually means for you. No one needs to sit on a park bench for a week straight in a present state like Eckart Tolle (author of Power of Now) although if it tickles your fancy, go for it.

Being present in our lives works best if it is done in small bits that can be extended. 

A very powerful way to be more present is to pay attention to our breath. Is it shallow? Fast or slow? Practice taking deep breaths, down to your belly and all the way up to your throat. The deeper and slower our breaths are, the more attention we pay to it. This is the perfect way to becoming comfortable with being more present. Pay attention to your breath several times a day and be aware of what thoughts and emotions come up for you. There might not be any and that is ok, too. 

Breathing mindfully might feel silly but something so small works wonders for our nervous system and helping it regulate. The more regulated our nervous system is, the easier it becomes to become present in our lives. A regulated nervous system allows us to explore what truly matters in life, what we want to let go of, what we want to change and focus on. It allows us to go within and learn what truly matters to us and what a fulfilling life can look like – free of any outside influences and distractions.

Being present in life means saying consciously no to things that aren’t working for us and doing it without explanation.

Being present in your own life doesn’t need to be justified to anyone. When we do things, both big and small, in alignment with what is truly good for us, life becomes more fulfilling. Those decisions won’t always be easy but they will always be worthy of your effort and investment. Ultimately, it is about striking a balance between being present and autopilot and carve out a way forward that works for you. It is not about being a 100% present but about the fact THAT you are more present in whatever you do. You decide what you give meaning to in life and add fulfillment to your lie almost by accident.