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  • Writer's pictureTyphanie Stewart

Tips for Working on Living in the Present

“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present. ” — Lao Tzu

The pandemic, and the many unprecedented events that occurred during the pandemic, has left us all… spent, to say the least. The line between what defines “direct” and “indirect” impact by recent and ongoing happenings is extremely blurry. As such, most of us can identify with feelings of worry, regret, cloudiness, disinterest, or plain-old “blah-ness.”


It’s easy to languish in the stress of it all. Especially when we feel like we don’t have the answers to the world’s problems. After what seemed like forever, I was only recently reminded that we don’t have to have the answers. Even more, it’s impossible. While it’s essential to have goals in place and plan ahead, whether for our personal or professional lives – even during a pandemic – it serves no one to be anxious about a future we can’t control. Similarly, we shouldn’t dwell in sadness over what we can’t change about the past either. All we have is the present.


While this epiphany isn’t revolutionary in the least, it’s well-known that we as humans forget it all too often. I’m also well aware that it’s easier said than to truly live by. Seeking the professional help and support you need for chronic feelings of depression and anxiety is necessary. But, if you’re not to that point yet, I’d like to share a few things that have helped me keep my sanity, live in the present, and strive toward peace as much as possible.


PAUSE to fully embrace the moment at hand

I am not a perennial optimist, although I wouldn’t classify myself as a pessimist either. I am a proud realist. Yes, I know… all pessimists say they are realists, but hear me out. I strive to live in reality and make my reality as pleasant and successful as possible. I have to believe that if I do, what comes next will have a strong foundation to be pleasant and successful as well. Taking frequent opportunities to pause and express gratitude for the present makes the regrets of the past and the worries of the future pale in comparison to what I can celebrate in the now, no matter how seemingly big or small. And, I’ll be in a much better head space to fully experience the good and take on the bad that will inevitable come my way.


PRIORITIZE the people and things that matter most

As a wife, mother, employee, community member, minority, woman, and human who is also responsible for my own well-being, much is required of me physically, mentally, and emotionally at all times. It can feel overwhelming to prioritize what’s most important at any given moment, when the truth is, everything is important. The difficulty is mostly connected to the guilt I feel when I push certain people or things to the back burner, especially if someone follows up on it. It’s not a question of whether they are important. The question is, how important are they for that specific moment or day? It’s like a puzzle. When I release the guilt and focus individual pieces of a puzzle one by one to achieve the bigger picture, the process of putting it all together is so much more rewarding than getting frustrated about how many pieces there were to begin with.


PUSH through negative feelings

Pushing through negative feelings and experiences is probably the most challenging, because no one wants to experience negativity. However, pushing through rather than pushing passed is necessary for healing and living in the present. When I experience the fullness of a circumstance, whether positive or negative, I become stronger once it’s over, which is always positive. If it was a positive experience I can relish in the good memory without feeling like I missed out. If it was a negative experience, feeling the bad feelings until I can move on with sincerity is imperative so that they don’t creep up on me in a worse way when you least expect it. Respectful confrontation helps plenty in these situations.

PEACE…

You may have noticed that I spoke in the first person and applied all of these “tips” directly to myself. I didn’t when I first wrote this. I had to go back and edit myself in. It’s still a struggle for me to attain peace daily, but it starts with believing that I deserve it.

You do, too.

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