“Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift. – Oprah Winfrey

    There has been so much talk about what next after Covid-19 and how important it is to be forward-looking in a period such as this. It has been enlightening reading and listening to many talks about how to take advantage of what is to come and how to better position ourselves for when the world opens up fully, hopefully soon.

    This article focuses on being present in the present.

    “Present” as a noun refers to “now”. To be present in the now means to be fully aware of self and aware of the current circumstances. It means yielding our senses to fully take in what is happening around us currently and understanding our position in relation to it. According to Thum, “being in the present moment, or the “here and now,” means that we are aware and mindful of what is happening at this very moment. We are not distracted by ruminations on the past or worries about the future but centered in the here and now. All of our attention is focused on the present moment”.

    4 Ways to be Present

    1. Take Stock

    In order to be truly present, we must take stock of our gains and losses whilst being realistic in the process. Taking stock would certainly involve some focus on the past. However, this focus is for a reason. It is not just dwelling on the past for the sake of it and generating unnecessary guilt in the process. Thinking about the past is different from dwelling on our mistakes and mishaps of the past.

    2. Be Grateful

    While stock-taking goes on, it is helpful to have an attitude of thankfulness. Gratitude is undeniably one way of developing or having a clearer perspective. How often, if ever, have you been grateful for that teammate of yours? Or that security detail, secretary or driver? Our gratitude should intentionally cover everything and everyone we probably take for granted. In times like these access to a laptop and internet connectivity is an opportunity we should be grateful for. An anonymous quote which says, “Gratitude turns what we have into enough” is similar to what Oprah Winfrey also says about gratitude. She says, “be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

    3. Focus

    Aristotle Onassis asserts that “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light”. The ability or power to focus is critical when other compelling things crave our attention as well.

    Paying more attention to the project currently at hand may do more good than wishing or strategising for that project that has not yet taken off. There is a proverb that says, “a bird in hand is worth two in the bush”. When we focus, our minds become more open to and active at working on alternatives to achieving our goals and making good progress with them. An open mind and laser-like focus make a great team in helping to drive us toward success. Focusing on the present is critical to harnessing every potential we can from the present.

    4. Plan for your Time.

    Plan and visualize your day. Review it when the day is over. Check for potential loopholes and ways to maximise your time including taking breaks during the day. Do you love to write? Try to develop the habit of journaling either by hand, typing out what is on your mind or voice-recording yourself. Are you more inclined to put down your thoughts as a drawing or painting? It is also helpful to make time for a hobby in your weekly plan. Hobbies are great ways of improving your emotional health and drawing your attention to the “little” joys of life in your current situation. What is great about hobbies is that they are personal to you and do not feel at all like an exertion.

    Conclusion There are several ways to learn to be present in the present with a number of benefits to each of them. This season calls for strategically planning for the future. However, let us not lose out on the many other opportunities we have in our present. As we live in the present, our “eyes” will open to see a few more things we may have missed because of all the compelling distractions. Remember, “distraction wastes our energy, concentration restores it” Sharon Salzberg.

    Freda Evelyn Abah-Dakou