How To Truly Appreciate The Present

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I can describe my golden moment; my great realisation of the power of now like cliff-diving into the crisp ocean on a beautiful sunny day. Like taking in copious amounts of unlimited fresh air while feeling the sea breeze over my skin, my strands of hair whisked over my cheeks, my heart beating with purpose, my eyes sparkling, widening and even whitening (increased health!).

I feel relevant, valid, here.

These days, I’m rarely agitated, anxious or stressed. And if I do (naturally, I’m only human), all the highs and lows of travelling around the world has helped me tighten up my mental skills to throw myself back to the present. The only place where true happiness can be found.

Want to devour the sweetness of every moment? Here’s 14 pieces of advice from yours truly.

1. Try coming up with creative analogies of your surroundings. Tigers at the Singapore Zoo watch their prey from across the distance on land surrounded by nothing but a moat they’re afraid to get into. Little did they know the water isn’t so deep. Humans with their aspirations aren’t so different… The more you think like this, you’ll realise your surroundings are full of great lessons but only if you can see them. Oh my… Inspiration! Inspiration everywhere!

2. When something goes wrong, just stop to think for a second: will you still be feeling awful in an hour? In a month? In a year? I’ve missed flights, I’ve been scammed by touts, I’ve been heartbroken. But I’m mature enough to know I’ll eventually get over it so I choose not to waste my energy on negativity. Think: “well, now I know…”, “it is quite funny now that I look at it”, “here’s a story to tell”, “such is life”, “lesson learned!”. The quicker you can shift your mindset, the more room your soul has to be wholly present.

3. Get grounded (literally) and take a looong, deep breath. Stand still, close your eyes, spread your toes and feel the entire weight of your body on the complete soles of your feet. Slowly rock back and forth, slightly raising your heels and toes. Feel the strength of your body. Now take a long, breath through the stomach. Do you feel the waves through your body? That’s oxygen running through your bloodstream, your lungs being used to its full capacity as opposed to the short breaths we usually take through the chest. Appreciate ground zero – any other problem is made up in your mind.

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4. Understand (and did you know…?) that life is made up of a bunch of connections – all the energies of the world are intertwined to result in you being exactly where you should be. Remember ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ and ‘The Butterfly Effect’? Know this and the present will suddenly feel a lot juicier, a palpable gratitude hard to shake off. Thank the Universe for my plane landing safely, for reaching my hotel without dilemmas on the road, for being able to sit here and type this right now – and all the tiny impacts in-between. The stars are aligning for this very moment, for us, for you. How magical.

5. Learn to see beauty in everything. Simply put: things are only “bad” or “not that great” because you’re comparing it to “better”. “Better” is subjective to knowledge and experiences. If you’ve never partied all night in raw New Orleans, the happenin’ jazz scene in NYC will do just fine. If you’ve never road-tripped through South Africa, you might think Australia’s Great Ocean Road is the most scenic drive in the world. At every situation, find beautiful uniqueness or something you can gain from it and act as though you’re seeing it for the first time (or the last).

6. Focus on the senses to throw yourself back into the moment. The mind is absolute madness! You’re somewhere but your mind is mostly elsewhere! See, touch, taste, smell, listen. How does the wine glass feel on your fingers? A cold wetness? How does the perfectly frothed coffee feel on your lips? Is that the sound of birds? Rattling horse carts? This is one reason why I love travel writing, I need to be extremely mindful of my senses to include the finer details in successfully painting a picture.

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7. Get back to basics on the whole mysteriousness of existence. Be curious like a child and ask lots of questions. This will help you be more in love with your surroundings. “Wow, Earth is so mysterious and marvellous. How in the world did we get here?! And goodness me, my consciousness and the body is the Universe’s greatest invention.” You don’t need to know the answers, just be in awe and take part in appreciating all that lies before your eyes.

8. Meditate to allow your breath to transport you to now. For beginners, please don’t let this word frighten you. Start small, even if it’s for a couple of minutes of sitting in silence with your eyes shut. Focus on breathing in and out through your nostrils. Whenever you feel your mind wandering, just go back to the coolness (in) and warmth (out) of the breath. It will be a push and pull motion of thoughts when you start out but I promise it gets easier. When I’m travelling to hectic destinations that almost drive me to insanity, I go inwards to find a blank slate of purity and peace. As my sister-in-law once told me: “stillness is a gift.”

9. Less thinking, more feeling. Have you truly danced like nobody’s watching? You’ve heard this a million times but I bet most of us are still dancing to impress. And by “dancing”, I don’t really mean just dancing. Watch children being children, playing together, connecting – so innocent, so mesmerising, so present. You are not a robot and there isn’t a logical explanation for everything. You are human so feel the rhythms of the world and take joy in feeling indescribable things.

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10. Understand the universal law of impermanence. I.e. Things are constantly changing, nothing lasts. When you truly understand this – that the people and things in your life will change and won’t stick around forever – you’ll enjoy your precious time with your current surroundings so much more. Whether subtle or large, they’ve all left their mark in your life. Don’t think too much about “what will this look like?” – everything will fall into place if at this moment, you just be.

11. Thank the Sun for rising. Every. Single. Day. With or without you. It gives life and energy to everything on this planet. Even at night, it’s at work – lighting up the moon for you! Seeing the same sun rise every day no matter where I am in the world is a wonderful reminder that we are all part of something greater and are each individually just passing through. Appreciate these conscious years of your life.  Tomorrow morning, why don’t you step outside, close your eyes and feel the sun’s loving warmth.

12. There are people in life who prefer living the idea of reaching goals, rather than doing anything about it. It’s fine if you’re truly happy where you are. But if you’re itching to change something or be somewhere else, then stop moaning, get your head out of the clouds and just do it! Otherwise, the grass is actually a bright, luscious green everywhere if you choose to see it. Be like the deeply content cat – stretch out, march around in your tight circle, and cozy up in your own little patch.

13. “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. “He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with fret. Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.” Love this quote. This might sound crazy but never compare days. But Tiffany, we all have our good and bad days! Nope, they’re all just different days to me – and all great in my mind. It will take some time but once you go deeper and relate this to the law of impermanence (mentioned above), you’ll be rewarded with an enlightening epiphany that will have you living with zest.

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14. Now this one might be tricky but please hear me out:You are not on your way to becoming somebody. You are you right now. Your spirit and being is here. “Life complete.” isn’t when you’ve painted a picture in society of having a top-paying job, a big house on a hill, a couple of children and a fluffy Labrador. Totality is within yourself, within now. Do you subconsciously have ingrained in your head, “I’m not quite there yet”? I ask myself sometimes, “if you die tomorrow, will you be satisfied with the life you lived?” Well, I’d prefer not to die because there’s a million things I want to do and learn and change and feel, but I’ve essentially “made it” in life already. So have you. Once you understand this spiritual concept (and truth, really), you’ll drop a whole weight off your back and just take in all the glory of now.

A toast to this very second, and the next second. And the next…

Light and love,

What other ways help you appreciate the present? Write me a comment below.

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Published by Tiffany Tran

Passionate Human (also Travel & Lifestyle Writer based in Sydney, Australia). Say hello: tiffany@talesofardour.com. The backstory →

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