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One easy way to make every day of your life count

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August 24, 2015

Really, it's as easy as posting a black-and-white reminder in your living room so you see it every day. I just made this $30 investment at RowensCo on Etsy and am so excited for it to arrive! Although posting a reminder is one effective way to live in the present, there are some other amazing, thought-provoking tactics that I learned earlier this summer and have completely changed my perspective on how I thought about my life. 

These three concepts, although simple, make the rational case for living in the present and also suggest how to implement present-mindedness in your own life:

1. You, like most people, probably spend a lot of time living in an imaginary world. 

Meaning, you're focusing on things you can't control. Some people like to live in the past and spend time and energy on things that have gone wrong, that could have been done differently, or that cause anger and angst. Others (like me) focus on the future and spend time and energy on things that should, might, could, probably or you wish would happen in the future. In either scenario, the hours of thought have no productive outcome: you can't change the past, and have very limited influence on the future. This doesn't mean that you can't learn from the past or plan for the future, but your thoughts need to focus on what you can do in the present moment to get you to where you want to be. 

For example, I want to be a freelance writer full-time someday. Thinking about wanting to be a professional writer someday in the future, but worrying about losing my comfortable salary, does not help me get even one minute closer to that dream. If I wanted to use that present moment productively, I would send an email to an editor asking to write a trial article for her Web site and add it to my growing list of writing samples. Doing that a few hundred times, and following through when given the opportunity, will evolve into a freelance career.

2. You are not your mind, and you have the ability to control it.

We've all had thoughts like: "I can't believe I said/did/forgot that!" or "I can't live with myself right now!" This suggests that you are able to separate your 'self' from your mind, and think objectively about your thoughts. It means that you can learn to control and channel your mind to be a more productive resource and train it to 'catch' moments where your thoughts start to dwell in the past or race into the future.

For example, I finished this section of the book on my Monday morning flight into Philadelphia. As I was driving into the office from the airport, I caught myself stewing in frustration about something that happened the week before and talked myself out of it by asking what I could do right now to make it better. The answer was to let it go, so I did.

3. Your present self is the culmination of your past thoughts. 

It's helpful to grasp this concept by thinking of your physical body: what you look like at this exact moment is literally a culmination of thousands of small decisions you made over the past days, weeks, months and even years. From a diet perspective, over the past several days, months, and years you had thousands of opportunities to think, then choose, and then eat. If, in most of those moments, you thought: "Will this decision make me healthier and leaner?" then you are probably healthy and lean today. Same applies from an exercise perspective: you've had thousands of moments to think and then decide whether to go to yoga, or the gym, or for a walk. If, in each of those moments, you opted for the activity, you are probably in good shape today. 

It also applies to almost everything else in life - from your relationships to your career and everything in between. Whether you want to admit it or not, everything about you and your life you thought into existence.

So, what does all of this mean? If you listen to your new living room reminder to make every day count, and focus on channeling your mind toward positive, productive thoughts, you will literally have a better body, relationship, career and life. 

It's simple, really! If you want to learn more, I highly suggest reading 'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle. Keep an open mind when you read it, make it to the very end, and give yourself a few days to mull it over. I guarantee it will make you think differently.

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