Louise Thompson: Getting the present

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Being present is having my mind completely engaged and appreciatively connecting with wherever my body is at that point. Photo / 123RF
Being present is having my mind completely engaged and appreciatively connecting with wherever my body is at that point. Photo / 123RF

"Live in the moment." "Be present." That's how to be happy, apparently. I know, we read it over and over, and hear it a lot. But, how do we actually "be present"? It doesn't come with any instructions! I know I used to hear it and think: "Yeah yeah. "Be present." Thanks for sharing Yoda, but HOW? What do you actually want me to DO?"

If we are not living fulltime in an yoga ashram, how do we actually DO that be present thing in real, everyday life? It's a great question and one I hear often. Living in the present is intimately connected with our happiness, so taking the time to figure out a strategy that works for us in real everyday modern life is time well invested.

Essentially, for me, what "be present" means is that my mind is in the now. And the now is where my body is now. So, if my body is doing the clearing-up and stacking the dishwasher then my now is the washing up, that's the present. So it's appreciating the fact I have a dishwasher that is something my grandmother could only have dreamed of, and stacking the plates neatly inside, feeling good that they will wash themselves while I go about my day.

If I am out for a run it's the now of my feet moving over the bush track, and the sound of my breathing and the feeling of my legs working, the noise of the wind in the leaves. That's now. Not the feeling when I finish. The feeling as I am doing it.

If I am with a friend in a cafe then it's the smell of the coffee, the chatter between us. Now is our connection in that moment.

Being present is having my mind completely engaged and appreciatively connecting with wherever my body is at that point, and not trying to be thinking about whatever I want to do next, but being fully in the now of what's going on in that moment. Essentially it's having your mind in the same place as your body, at the same time. It sounds simple but it's deceptively difficult! The mind slides so easily away. Definitely a lifetime practice, for sure, but one with so many benefits. Just a few more minutes of presentness can transform ordinary moments into magical ones.

Happiness is found only in the present moment, that's where it lives, that's it's home. Now is where your body is. To be more present, connect your mind with whatever your body is doing right now. Suck the maximum joy from that moment, this moment, this moment right now. The only time we can experience happiness is now. That is why they call it The Present - because it's a gift.

• Through her online Happiness programme “Wellbeing Warriors”, life coach Louise Thompson helps people unlock their happiest and healthiest life. Sign up at louisethompson.com and find more from Louise at bite.co.nz/wellbeing.

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