Stop Waiting! 4 Ways to Live in the Moment

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How much of your life do you spend waiting? Not just waiting in line, but biding your time, waiting for the right moment, the right opportunity, the right person to come along? How much of our time is spent waiting for your life to get better, or for it to just show up?

Leo Babauta, author of The Effortless Life and founder of, asks this question in a recent post called "How to Wait Less." He writes: What if we stopped waiting, stopped trying to make dreams and goals come true, stopped wishing and anticipating? What if that good life is already here, and the only way to live it is to stop looking forward and notice what we already have?

Of course, there’s something great about anticipation—we love having something to look forward to, even if we hate waiting for it to arrive. While the anticipation of something better propels us forward and keeps us optimistic, there’s a definite downside: It takes us out where we are right now. If we’re not careful, we start to believe that the present is something to be tolerated, rather than enjoyed.
As any Buddhist worth his salt will tell you, all we have is now. This is it! The future is a figment, and our past is unchangeable. So, the best chance we have is to work with what’s right in front of us.

Sure, things could get better later (and in this economy, it’s what everyone’s banking on). Where and how you direct your attention and focus determines what your life feels like now. And isn’t that just as important?

Here are some ways to get plugged in to the present (the future will take care of itself):

  1. Get grounded. Take a minute or two to pay attention to where you are—it’s that simple. Look around the room: What do you see, hear, smell. Is the sun slanting through the windows? A dog barking outside? Someone laughing down the hall? What does your body feel like—are you slouched? Sleepy? On edge? Do a quick body scan and note how you feel from the tip of your head all the way down through the soles of your feet. Take a few deep breaths.
  2. Write down 3 great things that happened today. Call it a gratitude list, call it whatever you want: keeping track of the nice, surprising, unexpected, wonderful things that occurred today is worth remembering. When you write them down, you actually help extend the pleasure of those experiences, and can even change the tenor of your mood. And it reminds you that not all the best stuff is far off in the future, but right here.
  3. Write down 3 things YOU did. Ah—let’s turn this around. Not only is it great to be on the receiving end, but in fact it may be even better to be the giver. Who did you help? What did you offer or volunteer to others? How did you improve someone else’s day? Expert Stephen Post has written extensively about the health benefits of giving (check out the science behind this idea)—not the least of which is its impact on our stress levels. In one study that followed more than 900 churchgoing adults, researcher Neal Krause found that those who offered social support reduced their own anxiety. So this effort is twofold: In order to write down what you gave today, you have to, of course, give it.
  4. Use your wait time wisely. Yes, there are going to be plenty of times when you are stuck waiting—in line at the DMV, in traffic, in the doctor’s office. So rather than steep yourself in a lousy waiting mood, how can you use that time better? After all, in a time-crunched world, periods of waiting can offer a kind of rare luxury. Sure, you can return emails, but what else can you do? Read something for pleasure, listen to music, reflect on what’s going right with your life. See these little pockets of time as a gift, a breath in your day to take stock and enjoy what’s right in front of you.
Print, pin or download this graphic to keep these tips in mind throughout the busy (and stressful) holiday season.

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Tell us: How do you stay in the moment and avoid "waiting" for life to begin?

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Some really great ideas of which I already do some of them. I get bored easily so I like to ready while waiting at a doctor's office. I watch tv only when I get my iv treatments at the hospital or while waiting for an appointment. I take some of my bookwork or holiday cards with me when I travel so I have something to do while waiting on my next flight. I love to window shop at airport gift shops. I love looking at sale ads for ideas and know what is in fashion. I love to know what is going on news wise at all times. I am always checking my favorite news paper on my android. Report
This looked really interesting, but I was not able to find out any pricing information for when the 6 week free intro ended on the site after trying several searches. I think it would be better if subscription or other fees were up front before anyone has to sign in and give information. Report
I have found that taking a book with me makes the wait at the doctor's office seem very short. I get so engrossed in what I am reading that the time just flies! Report
I start AND end each day listing 5 things I'm grateful for. Doing this when I wake up and before I go to bed puts me in an attitude of gratitude for the day, and again, for good dreams!! My wait time is often used for pleasurable reading or Words With Friends, both relaxing things to me! Report
This is totally awesome! Report
What a great article !! Thanks for sharing Report
I read ECKHART TOLLE's "THE POWER OF NOW" and live by his guidance. He started this all several years ago. Report
love it! Report
GREAT advice, but all that is offered here--and more--can be found on may free sites (which I tend to trust more than money-making enterprises)--that's just me, of course. Report
Wonderful blog. I sure can use all of it.. Report
This sounds great to me. I like to live in the moment. I grew up poor and I never thought to dream, it was not productive. my pleasure on Spark is to Blog the good things so I guess I am already a step ahead. Interacting with or for others is the best way to go Pat in Maine. Report
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