Striving for An Uncluttered Mind

Living in the present. It’s one of those statements that’s SO much easier said than done.

But it’s also something that I’m much better at doing now than I ever have been.

Think about it – you’re out with your friends, enjoying one of your favorite activities, and then an unpleasant thought enters your mind. Maybe it’s about something that someone did to you earlier that’s troubling you, or something you “have” to do later. Regardless of what “it” is, it rips you from the present and throws you into the elusive past or future. And it sucks because it robs you of the present!


At Garden of the Gods with some friends this weekend, livin’ it up in the now!

Now, clearly I am in no way a psychologist, but I am introspective. What I’ve realized is the best way to live in the present is to have a clear mind. When I stop trying to control life, or time, or other people, I’m so much happier.

One thing I always remind myself is that if I can’t change it easily and stress-free, then it shouldn’t be crowding up my mind. I’m not so bad about living in the past – what’s done is done, and I can’t do much about it. But I have a tendency to think about the future a lot – my schedule, deadlines, evening clients, etc. I get caught up in saying I “shouldn’t” have to do something or or “I wish” I wouldn’t have waited to get everything done, when those words just make the situation worse.

One of my favorite quotes by Byron Katie explains it a little better:


Because it’s so true!

I’m writing this on Sunday morning, and in a few hours I have to drive all the way to Denver on one of my only days off to work 8 hours at an outdoor music festival for KIND. I have to navigate traffic, have to find a place to park, and then I have to work outside amongst a crowded venue when I’d rather be at home or hiking on this lovely day.

That’s one way to look at it. That way also robs me of the 3 hours I have until I leave for work. Notice how many times the word “have” is in that statement. In reality, I don’t “have” to do anything. Here’s the way I prefer to look at it.

“Right now, I’m sitting at the table writing this blog post.”

And that’s it.

And in 3 hours, I’ll be driving to Denver. And that’s it.

Does that make sense? Sometimes I’ll mentally tell myself what I’m doing – even the most minute task! For example, if I’m taking Niko for a walk, I mentally tell myself, “I’m enjoying this walk with Niko.” It helps me to do just that – not think about what’s a head, or check my email or instagram on my phone. I’m just enjoying the walk. I’m just enjoying the present moment.

Do you struggle with living in the present? What are some tactics you use to stay out of the past and future?

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  1. deep breathing really helps me! :)
    Meg @ A Dash of Meg recently posted..Marvelous Monday: 04/07My Profile

  2. I try to focus on what I can do and control in the moment= what’s in my boundary and area of responsibility. I also try to work on the “have to” statements which are definitely not reality. I don’t “have to” do anything!
    Caroline @ Fighting For Wellness recently posted..Staying Healthy On VacationMy Profile

  3. being present with my kids is always a challenge…but it’s my job so I take it very seriously.
    Lindsay @ Lindsay’s List recently posted..reebok skyscape – because #styleneverstopsMy Profile

  4. I’ve definitely struggled with staying focused on the here and now but am working on changing that. Something I do is use the first few minutes after I wake up to stretch, practice deep breathing, and just set a positive intention for the day. It’s a little thing that helps tremendously.
    Parita @ myinnershakti recently posted..Life LatelyMy Profile

  5. One thing that really helped me realize what it is to be present is to just scan my five senses and pay attention to every sensation. It never really made concrete sense to me until I read this somewhere. :)

  6. Yes, this is definitely a struggle for me. I tend to focus on the negative things that are coming up and obsessively worry about them. What usually helps is telling myself that 90% of what I worry about never turns out to be as bad as I build it up in my head. That simple thought has really helped me let go of a lot of stuff.
    Natalie @ Free Range Human recently posted..Mental Game: A Race Recap!My Profile

    • Very true! As Mark Twain says…”I’ve had some terrible experiences in my life…some of which have actually happened.”

  7. Thank for for this reminder, Paige. I’ve had a LOT on my mind regarding the future lately with our big move, so it’s extra important that I’m mindful about being in the present right now. xo
    Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries recently posted..Settling InMy Profile

  8. I admit, I do struggle with living in the present. My mind usually wanders off to either the future or the past. Never in the moment.. besides if I’m doing work. I really need to work on it, because it does stress me out.
    Natalie @ lovenataliemarie recently posted..I Need More Weekends Like This OneMy Profile

  9. YES to all of this!! My word for 2014 is “now” because I often let myself worry about the past and future, failing to embrace the present. It has caused me anxiety and insomnia, and it has definitely robbed me of joy in whatever I’m doing. Things have gotten so much better once I’ve focused on what’s happening right now. There is so much to appreciate and notice in every moment that there is no need to worry about what will happen next. (Obviously, we have to prepare for things and be mindful of what’s to come, but that doesn’t mean we have be too invested in them.) :)
    Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves recently posted..My First Time {At Chipotle}My Profile

  10. oh man… I’m working on this. I tend to be trying to do 10 things at once. I realize how quickly baby D is growing up and it is making me drop things and be focused just on him!
    Brittany @ Delights and Delectables recently posted..MIMM: Baby D Hits the Road AgainMy Profile

  11. I’m working very hard to live in the present and to just stop OVERTHINKING EVERYTHING. It robs me of being MYSELF when I’m with those that I care about and puts my relationships with people at risk. It’s important to live in the now – great reminder!
    Katie @ Talk Less, Say More recently posted..ABs in April – Planks Week 1My Profile

  12. The older I get the more I can just live in the moment. Experience tells me that I need a healthy balance of planning for the future while still enjoying the time I have right now. I can only do what I can only do!

  13. What a great way to look at it! Thanks for sharing. :)

  14. Wow i know exactly what you mean. it’s such a weird thing to describe in words but living in the present is literally just that. taking in the moment. just being.


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