10 Tips to Start Living in the Present


“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

One of the best, unforeseen consequence of simplifying our lives is it has allowed us to begin living our lives in the present. Eliminating nonessential possessions has freed us from many of the emotions associated with past lives that were keeping us stuck. And clearing our home has allowed us the freedom to shape our lives today around our most important values.

Choosing to live in the past or the future not only robs you of enjoyment today, it robs you of truly living. The only important moment is the present moment. With that goal in mind, consider this list of ten tips below to start living your life in the present:

1. Remove unneeded possessions. Minimalism forces you to live in the present. Removing items associated with past memories or lives frees us up to stop living in the past and start living in the present.

2. Smile. Each day is full of endless possibilities! Start it with a smile. You are in control of your attitude every morning, keep it optimistic and expectant.

3. Fully appreciate the moments of today. Soak in as much of today as you possibly can – the sights, the sounds, the smells, the emotions, the triumph, and the sorrow.

4. Forgive past hurts. If you are harboring resentment towards another human being because of past hurts, choose to forgive and move on. The harm was their fault. But allowing it to impact your mood today is yours.

5. Love your job. If you just “survive” the workweek constantly waiting for the next weekend “to get here,” you are wasting 71% of your life (5 out of 7 days). there are two solutions: 1) find a new job that you actually enjoy (it’s out there), or 2) find something that you appreciate about your current career and focus on that rather than the negatives.

6. Dream about the future, but work hard today. Dream big. Set goals and plans for the future. But working hard today is always the first step towards realizing your dreams tomorrow. Don’t allow dreaming about tomorrow to replace living in today.

7. Don’t dwell on past accomplishments. If you are still talking about what you did yesterday, you haven’t done much today.

8. Stop worrying. You can’t fully appreciate today if you worry too much about tomorrow. Realize that tomorrow is going to happen whether you worry about it or not. And since worry has never accomplished anything for anybody, redirect your mental energy elsewhere.

9. Think beyond old solutions to problems. Our world is changing so fast that most of yesterday’s solutions are no longer the right answers today. Don’t get locked into a “but that’s how we’ve always done it” mentality. Yesterday’s solutions are not today’s solutions and they are certainly not tomorrow’s solutions.

10. Conquer addictions. Addictions in your life hold you hostage. They keep you from living a completely free life today. Find some help. Take the steps. And remove their influence over your life.

If you can only live one moment at a time, you might as well make it the present.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    You know there’s an interesting connection between #5 and 8. Whether we’re distressing over our job or worrying about the future or the past, we’re wasting an even greater percentage of your life.

    I agree that we should always make a conscious decision to appreciate the present. We can never get this exact moment back again. Every moment of every day is different in it’s own unique way!

    Great post, thanks for sharing!

    • di says

      We all distress and worry. We’re human…

      Forcing ourselves to do otherwise would be inhumane.

      I embrace all aspects of my life.

      • Joel says

        I don’t think anyone is talking about FORCING ourselves to not stress, the post is about choosing our focus so that stress and anxiety are not empowered by our thoughts. We can hardly say that simply choosing our actions and being deliberate with our thoughts is forcing anything upon ourselves. Acceptance alone will not result in a mindful state or living in the present, obviously some action and practice must be involved if we want to see positive change for ourselves.

        I’m wondering, are you saying you embrace all aspects of your life and therefore will take no action to improve them?, or are you saying you accept those things but are willing to practice techniques designed to improve your personal experience of life?

      • Linda says

        Actually, we don’t all distress and worry. Our actions, thoughts, and habits can all be formed through conscientious exercises. Many years ago, I spent too much time rehashing the past and/or worrying about the future. No longer. Not at all! I choose the positive in all things, and after years of experience, I am confident that most of the best things in life come after the hardest challenges. In the very least, there is an invaluable lesson to be learned. The second I feel any worry/distress come on, I reflect on the serenity prayer. If I can’t change the circumstance, I let go, right then and there. No need to carry baggage if I’m not going anywhere. It is so freeing!!! Our oldest daughter just got married. The entire process from engagement to wedding was stress-free. It would seem my daughter learned even earlier than I did to just live in the moment, and not fret about the past or the future. Ironically, her favorite quote has always been “Carpe Diem!” (Seize the day!)

        • Olga says

          Thank you Linda! I take care of elderly Dad who has Dementia/Alzerheimers after my Mom passed away in 2012. It has become overwhelming. Lately im living in the past so I dont deal with my present which has been affecting me a great I deal. I love your daughter’s quote (seize the day).

        • Linda says

          Just as Joshua Becker wrote in this article, “6. Dream about the future, but work hard today. Dream big. Set goals and plans for the future. But working hard today is always the first step towards realizing your dreams tomorrow. Don’t allow dreaming about tomorrow to replace living in today.”

          There is a difference between setting goals for our future and worrying about it. Set goals! Work hard! But do not dwell in worry. If we set goals, then focus on worry, how will we ever get there? It is the working hard TODAY that gets us to achieve our goals. It IS the today that gets us to tomorrow. If we dwell on tomorrow, we neither reach it’s goals, nor enjoy today. It is a lose/lose situation.

  2. says

    Great post, Joshua. Mindfullness is the key to so much in this life. One mantra that I try to live by — and with three small kids it takes on new meaning — is “Allow what is to be”. When you go with the flow you can’t help but be present and mindful!

    Be well!

    • di says

      The difficulty lies in accepting what’s before you. Everything happens for a reason – even it is not understood at the moment.

    • EcoMama says

      Bill, I agree with your comment on Mindfulness! It was key to my recovering from a 6-year-long depression, which I know I will never return to. Mindfulness IS about choosing to fully experiencing the moment that you are in. Stopping to breathe deeply and just BE is my cue to make a mindful moment.

  3. Rachel says

    That comment about hating your job is wasting 71% of your life is a real eye opener. I choose to take on a lower paying job that makes me happy rather than have a higher paying job that will cause more stress. I think it actually balances out because if a higher paying job causes higher stress than I’ll be spending more money on unnecessary trying to soothe myself anyway. My career goal is to simply avoid “Sunday Night Syndrome”, meaning as soon as I start dreading my job, I find a new one!

    • Lauren says

      Ahh, Sunday Night Syndrome. Thank you, Rachel, for giving me a title for the panic I used to feel at prior points in my working life. When put into perspective, spending 71% of one’s life being miserable is absolutely unacceptable. I’m so fortunate that I no longer experience SNS, and I hope others who do are able to move on or find the good in the meantime.

      P.S. I love this blog! Thanks for sharing the minimalist perspective in such a thoughtful and practical way.

    • di says

      Simpler said than done. Some have no choice. Some are forced to be burdened with all the responsibility, regardless of their personal needs.

      When you have a family, you can’t just quit and find another job when it’s convenient for you. You can’t expect anyone else to support your family. And you can’t just give up!

      • nynature says

        I Agree di. These all sound so grand, but when you have responsibilities and debt, it isn’t that simple. Just find another job sounds so easy…………with millions out of work. I’m just happy I have a job and am not homeless.

      • Susan says

        We all have limitless choices as to just how much responsibility we take on in life, whether it is a decision to have children that we will need to support, to live above our means and go into debt, to own property and possessions that require upkeep and attention, to allow ourselves to become addicted to any number of things, etc. There are VERY FEW burdens in life that are truly forced upon us but rather are a result of our lack of considering the consequences of our actions and decisions. To say that anyone has “no choice” in their responsibilities is totally inaccurate. A more accurate statement would be that we wish we didn’t have to deal with the consequences of our previous actions and had made a different choice, not that we never had a choice to begin with. Other than being born, most illnesses and dying, (and yes, taxes), pretty much everything else in our lives is a choice. We are the creators of our own lives through our actions and choices.

        • Panda says

          mmm.. assuming you live in a Western country and have been educated and supported emotionally and financially as you grow up to live to your full potential… then perhaps these options are available to you. Many on the planet don’t have these choices…

          • Linda says

            I have lived in a third world, poverty stricken country. And having also read much on the subject of living in the moment, and choosing joy, I am confident that it is not education or financial support that mold our happiness, or our ability to live to our potential. Many of this planet’s most joy filled occupants are among the poorest. There is a lot to be said for appreciating the little things, and living in the present. It was much easier to live in the Philippines than it was to come back to America and live here. We have complicated life, and cause 95% of our own distress and worry.

      • Monica says

        No one said it was was easy. It is not easy to change one’s life whether or not you have kids or a lot of debt. In fact, it is very difficult to do.

  4. says

    10. conquer addictions. addictions in your life hold you hostage. they keep you from living a completely free life today.

    this really resonates with me.

    when i am stuck in my stupid addictions, i easily get overwhelmed and forget to enjoy living in the present.

    i am very working on my addictions.
    i am trying to be more content minded, get rid of my unnecessary desires and focus living in the moment, simply, happily :)

    valuable post, joshua~

    • di says

      My addictions do not hold me hostage. They are not overwhelming and I find them to be pleasurable.

      I can enjoy myself whether I think of the present, past or future. I am content embracing all my desires.

      It is the restricted thoughts of others that hold me hostage. They are overwhelming, bring on discontent and are not pleasurable.

  5. says

    I love #5. As someone who worked my way out of one career that I enjoyed but really didn’t fit our family’s needs (transcribing with 4 little ones underfoot isn’t exactly ideal), to one that I am passionate about and fits our lifestyle perfectly (blogging and consulting), I am also passionate about encouraging others to find work they love. When you’re not able to draw a line between work and fun, you know you’ve found it!

  6. Rich_k_f says

    I thought about this recently and wrote:
    Masters of the Moment
    The days go by with each setting sun,
    And as time passes our minds become
    Filled with memories of glee and sorrow
    And of bricks we use to build tomorrow
    The past is our teacher, the future our dreams,
    Our family and friends at this moment it seems,
    Are the loving realities of our lives in the present,
    Savor each moment of the time with them spent

    • di says


      The setting of the sun usually signifies the end of a day. We all have happy and sad memories.

      I learn from the past as well as the present.

      My family and friends are not very loving. I prefer to be alone, because it’s more peaceful.

      I don’t get it…

      • nynature says

        If your family and friends are not very loving, then it is time to move away from them and find new friends that encourage you to be your best and that you enjoy being around. I for one moved away from family because I couldn’t stand the drama. Best decision I ever made. We all need time to try on new clothes (friends and experiences) and it is sometimes impossible when we continue to wear the same old shirt (family and dysfunction).

      • Karen says

        I agree with your comment. We are all responsible for our happiness! Living my life in the moment keeps me centered without family drama!

  7. plumber says

    This is so true see the man that picks up litter on our beach He is unphased, He is there if its snow or Sun and he seems content with his lot.
    Get on with it,enjoy now,remove bad habits,reduce your cluttered unneeded possessions,interesting reading informative true,, greed and jealously just take you down, say I’m free and do what you want don’t let no one tell you what you should do.I do not know what I will have but its today I do.

    • di says

      How do you know that the garbage man is content? I’m sure if you were to listen, he’d tell you a different story.

      Some enjoy their habits. What’s bad to you may not be bad to them. Some enjoy clutter and need their possessions for different reasons.

      Most just want to be able to do what they please without the disapproval of others. It has nothing to do with greed or jealousy.

      Everyone knows what they presently have, what they used to have and what they’d like to have.

      The concepts of freedom and enjoyment are different for everyone.

  8. Bazil says

    Most of us know what we have to do… but still we wait for something to happen. If only one puts all these in practise, LIFE IS WORTH LIVING…enjoying every bit of it.

    • di says

      Life is only worth living if we put all these into practice?

      I don’t want to discard my possessions. I don’t smile every day. I don’t appreciate every moment. I can only forgive certain behaviors. I don’t always love my job. I realistically plan for my future. I don’t always work hard. I think often of my past accomplishments as well as my future endeavors. I still worry. Every problem is different and so is the solution. I enjoy some of my addictions.

    • kittu sharma says

      Dear All,
      i think life is not like dat what we want life is go by its own way . u know i am dat kind kindof person who want to live happy in all condition that may be good or bad i want to makes happy all but i cant help it yr dont know i am living my life or just keep going where life want to take me please advise

  9. Ritesh Thyaram says

    i learnt that living in the present moment is gods greatest gift to man and women.to be present means to be aware and focused on your thoughts and be centred in what ever we do in the present moment.present…means…this moment is a gift that we should treasure and embrace and enjoy.feel exalted and see the magic and joy that each moment brings to our human expierence.love it…treasure it and let it be.a gitf to you…………………..thank you…

  10. swaminathan p c h says

    living present is a good theory & philosophy. ok. but the problem is the wandering mind. how to be still without the past and future? how to engage the mind in the present moment , with the “0” level influence of past and future.?

  11. em says

    im confused on one thing, it says to remove things associated with the past to free us now, and i have believed in this theory but have also found negatives in it such as i have given away alot of clothes but it hurts when i cant wear something that i love because it reminds me of past, and then some people say u should just work through it, and also what if u are living the present but then u have to go and move back somewhere that may remind u of the past, what then, should u not do it, but what if u have love for the place and it has alot of positives should we not go for it to instead dissociate with the past as much as possible? im sick of the effort involved in running from the past but i so desperatly want my freedom of today. someone pls help!!

    • Arbe says

      You’re capable of finding the answers to your questions from within. Trust yourself. Try seeing the list as suggestions, not commandments. Is measuring yourself by someone else’s yardstick really the way to liberation?

      • kittu sharma says

        Dear All,
        i think life is not like dat what we want life is go by its own way . u know i am dat kind kindof person who want to live happy in all condition that may be good or bad i want to makes happy all but i cant help it yr dont know i am living my life or just keep going where life want to take me please advise

  12. Vishal Bhatt says

    Great article, since morning I have been swinging in to the past and was worrying about future, really changed my mood after reading this article, thanks man :)

  13. says

    Yeah! Living in the NOW is the master key through which one can unlock the secrets of abounding happiness. A person who is not burdened with the regrets of the past and the worries of the future is bound to attain consciousness, thereby experiencing infinite bliss, peace and calmness.

  14. says

    I love #1–I know the whole get rid of stuff you don’t need thing, but I do hold on to little ‘souvenirs of my past.’ I finally gave away a couple of boxes of theology books to a pastor who lost his library in a tornado. I’m sure my books were a bit out of date, and I’m an insurance man, so I know pastors have funds typically specifically for their libraries. It was something i needed to do for some reason to let go.

  15. says

    Fantastic advice here, living in the present really is the key to happiness. Many people dwell on past failures or successes, or spend their lives worrying about what tomorrow will bring. In a way, living for the future is a consequence of our education system – it’s constantly drilled into kids that “you must pass your exams” otherwise your life will suck. We should try teaching our kids to just live for the moment instead.

    • di says

      There’s nothing wrong with thinking about the past or the future. Just because you think of another time doesn’t mean you’re not here now.

      I’m still here right now, at the present time, and this is my moment to reflect and ponder about anything I please!

      • Linda says

        He never says not to think of the past or the future. Most of us have fond childhood memories, we love to share with others. And it is good to set goals for the future. He even says to set goals! But we should not dwell in the past or the future. That is the difference. THAT is unhealthy. It steals from the present.

  16. Cora says

    This short but deep post has been inspiring & thought provoking ! It’s going to be printed out and put on my wall for a while til i memorize it :p

  17. Elizabeth says

    Today was an eye opener. Every time I look at my stuffed garage I think of you Joshua! Today JUNE 1 I had a garage sale and because I prepared it on my own (no kids and hubby around) I felt I was more ruthless in the purging. From seasonal decorations to clothing I thought I would never part with, I was to the point of embarrassment of how much was on my driveway. I have lost count over the years of how many times I have loaded my van with donations to drop off at charity. At the end of the sale I had so much for donation it was filled in my big truck bed and boxes in the back seat. A month ago I donated 6 boxes the size of banana boxes to charity. Where does it come from ?? I do have two young children and a home based playschool, so to get to the root of it, most of it comes from those two sources. We don’t live with all the gadgets in the kitchen or entertainment, we don’t buy a lot of clothes, I have two handbags and a couple of pairs of dress shoes. My kids are not picky about clothes and we shop for decent items at the thrift store. I am still searching deeply for the root causes, there are so many layers ——– but it IS SO liberating to JUST LET GO!
    Thank you for all your inspiration!

  18. Mohd. Faiz kosmi says

    Everything is possible in this word becouse ‘well begun is half done’.you should have faith in yourself and strong will power to achieve success.
    Confidence is the key of all success..

  19. Mohd. Faiz kosmi says

    Negative thoughts are the reasons of our sadness,weakness and failiars. Negativity has to much power for change the life.It eats our capabilities. It is a large reason of unsuccess.

    If we want to success in life,we have to ignore negativity.
    So we positive, see positive and talk positive.

      • B says

        Alzheimer’s has multiple stages. Yes it is an illness, however, I have noted that the majority of patients whom are diagnosed in earlier stages tend to learn to appreciate daily life more and let go of harshness and unhappiness……it is not the disease itself speaking but the soul. Living for the now and appreciating life. As the bible teaches as well as many faiths and theorists….be still…

  20. Kathleen says

    “If you are harboring resentment towards another human being because of past hurts, choose to forgive and move on. The harm was their fault. But allowing it to impact your mood today is yours.”

    Thank you. That is exactly what I needed to hear today.

  21. Tyna_C says

    I started following your blog because I wanted to clean out my office and my closet. After reading your materials for a few weeks, I’ve come to realize that I haven’t been successful in my decluttering efforts because I’ve always focused on the external organizing of stuff. This post is an example of the holistic nature of minimalism. It’s about our approach to life and how we choose to look at things. One of my favorite quotes is from Wayne Dyer, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” I can have the same job and choose to look at the glass empty or full. (I’m one of those crazy ones who think that “half full” is on the pessimistic side. :) ) Thanks for the post, and also to all who comment and enrich the blog.

  22. Deb12 says

    Something to be thankful for…I’m not as negative and critical as Di. I’ve been through many difficult times and through them I’ve learned that our attitude and how we choose to respond to events really do make a difference. Here’s hoping Di finds some balance. Then again maybe she thrives on attention. I appreciate and enjoy this blog.

  23. says

    This is one message I try to make my 90 year old mother in law understand. I know it comes with age, but all she thinks about is her past. She doesn’t seem to be engaged with her daily life. I know it’s hard for her with limited physical capabilities, but if she could only see each day a wonderful gift. I hope I will if I reach 90….

  24. says

    I have you linked in my recent blog about my blogiversary. I used you as a link for people to slow people down and enjoy the present. Good advice you have her, I linked and added to it.

  25. says

    I can personally say, “living in the present moment” has given me a new outlook on life. I have a “new love” for Life, myself, family, friends, and every-walk-of-life.
    Living in the “Now” is something that has to be discovered thru self-reflection, contemplation, and a deep yearning to discover the Truth…thru re-identifying who you really are….spiritually.
    And, asking yourself? What is it that we have in common with everything in the universe? I believe, only the past, future, and present can be discovered “Now”…Thru a clear mind we can focus on which one gives us the freedom to live…
    I have fully discovered this thru my own personal struggles…Being mindful, being fully present invites a higher level of consciousness or thinking to connect us to the real and present “moment”. A place where we can bathe in a state of purity; void of fear, anger, shame, and regret…A place of complete surrender…bliss…knowing we aren’t alone, we are all “One Spirit”….


  26. says

    My psychologist regularly talks of mindfulness and how it can help me. However I must say that your No. 4 is a difficult one for me. I doubt that I will ever be in a position to “forgive” the person who inflicted so much pain on me. There are somethings that can never be forgiven.

  27. says

    Not a bad list. I pray every day for a better ability to live in the present.

    Item One:

    I have five (heh) garden tractors. Today, all but one of them is inoperable for various mechanical reasons! Once, my daughter’s school bus driver asked me, “Why do you have so many tractors?”

    The pragmatic answer is that I need one tractor for each implement and I need redundancy, since mechanical things always fail. One can also have a hobby with real mechanical things that cannot be fixed by downloading buggy software from a hacked site. I actually need one more tractor, BTW. In a tip of the hat to the change of seasons, I do put the tiller and the snowblower on the same tractor as appropriate.

    Do I live in the past? Not that much. Do I plan for the future? Yep. It’s a matter of hilarity that my redundant systems have been very nearly defeated! But in the future, those tractors will all be operable again.

    Just adding my take. Gotta go order a carb. Online.

  28. Foad says

    Thank you very much, it was such a great article. Last night one of my friends told me that ” you are not living in the moment “. This made me curious to find out about it as he mentioned some examples. Basically, I’m living in the future. I can’t remember what happened in the past, for instance, where i bought my shirt or when i meet my girlfriend first, what we talked about when we went to … restaurant last week and etc. My friend said because I’m worry about the future all the time i can’t remember the past well as i didn’t live in that moments! Enjoyment in my life has reduced alot, however, I always studied and worked hard. I achieved many goals in my life but i haven’t enjoyed them. Recently I’ve become hating myself and so disappointed because i think i couldn’t do well in my life and I’ll never reach the dreams i had in the past. Please some help me with this. ….
    many thanks

    • Joe says

      Wow Foad, you sound just like me, even down to how I found this post. I think some of it is being a perfectionist, to where even if you do accomplish a goal, it couldve always been done better so you don’t feel satisfied. First I’d say congratulate yourself on both setting goals as well as taking the actions to complete them, not everyone can do this. Second is try looking at goals that are going to benefit you in life in a better way ( there are lots on this site ), otherwise maybe they are not worth completing, maybe they just keep you busy. Busy is a form of lazy and it very different from being productive. Productive is accomplishing something beneficial in your own or someone else’s life ( which can be beneficial to you as well ). Hope I helped a little. Keep trying for the present!

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