It’s Hard To ‘Be in the Present’

Kroatien, Istrien, Kap Kamenjak, Mann sitzt auf den Felsklippen und schaut entspannt auf die Brandung

Kroatien, Istrien, Kap Kamenjak, Mann sitzt auf den Felsklippen und schaut entspannt auf die Brandung

“Do not ruin today with mourning tomorrow.” ― Catherynne M. Valente,

Most of us have been encouraged at some time or other, by friends, coaches and therapists to try to be “in the present.” We may be sitting on a hillside on a sunny day hearing the breeze rustling in the trees. We focus on this but despite the best will in the world often find it difficult to just ‘be here.’

We may start thinking of a conversation that just took place at work that did not go very well, or play through in our minds an imaginary talk that needs to take place with a friend or it could be anything that may have happened in the past or will happen in the future. Our minds are very good at taking us away from the moment of enjoyment that we should be experiencing.

For many of us, the nicer moments of the present become so very difficult to experience well.  And on the other hand past events feel so easy to enjoy or remember when they are over. Why is this so?

Remembering the past

One benefit of the past is that it is a dramatically edited version of the present. Even the best days we have had, may have contained some uninteresting or uncomfortable times. We usually discard these parts of the experience and like a deft film editor we focus on the most meaningful moments.

Future possibilities

Much of what ruins the present is the anxiety we may feel about ‘what may happen’. There are so many things that could possibly happen and we are often confronted by the dread of not knowing what is to come. This makes us anxious and takes us away from ‘this moment’.

On the other hand we also know that most of the scenarios we go through in our minds never actually take place and the anxiety may fade away (or shift to another present). So when we remember a past event we edit out all the anxious feelings we have had about what could have happened but never did.

The power of our minds

Our minds are cavernous, chaotic places. So many thoughts and feelings rush through our minds like a river in flood that we find it very hard to concentrate on what we see in front of us. We may end up then seeming ungrateful for enjoying this moment. It may be someone telling us a story and our minds wander away from the conversation.

At times we notice it more easily in others. When talking to someone you will notice their gaze moves or their eyes glaze over. They too are experiencing the difficulty of being in the present.

(With thanks to “The Book of Life”) “The only true thing is what’s in front of you right now.” ― Ramona Ausubel,

By Ron Tustin. Read more here.

Revive and Thrive Coaching, Professional Coach.


Motivating baby boomers to see the world with fresh eyes.