Present (adjective)- existing or occurring now.

Life requires you to be present for a multitude of different events. If you’re a student, being present in class is not only a required aspect of your grade, but is beneficial to your success in that class. We try to avoid being absent for the things that really matter—weddings, births, graduation ceremonies, or award presentations. In general, being absent for these special events is frowned upon or could be completely misunderstood by the ones around us. So why is it that the one event we attend every single moment of every single day, we continually choose to opt ourselves out of? Without even realizing it, we are consistently absent in our own life story. Between re-reading the past, trying to write the future in advance, or by simply becoming complacent with where we currently are, we fail to be fully present in our life at all times.

It’s unrealistic to expect that our life will pass without us becoming depressed over the past, anxious over the future, or any emotion in between. Living “in the moment” is much easier said than done. And here I pause. While I’m sure having this mindset helps some people cope with day-to-day burdens, I do believe that it is extremely unhealthy to consistently live in the present moment only. Further, it’s unhealthy to become fixated on any part of our life’s story—past, present, or future.

When I say that we need to become more present in our own lives, I’m not implying that we should live more “in the moment.” I’m saying that we need to have the right amount of focus on the past, present, AND future. Living your life while only looking backwards is dangerous, as is living your life while only looking for what’s ahead rather than what’s right in front of you.

Being present in your life means recognizing the past for what it’s worth—to reference it as a learning point but not become obsessed with your previous faults. Being present in your life means having hope in the future—to know that good times and bad times will come and to prepare for both. Being present in your life means enjoying the things that are within your reach right now—to count all your blessings (and some twice).

When people talk about being present in your life, they oftentimes reference social media and how it should essentially be eradicated from your life. While I do wholeheartedly believe in the evil that social media can become at times, I don’t think that it’s something that everyone needs to do without. If it interferes with your way of coping with your daily struggles by providing a distraction (and no help), then maybe it’s time to take a break. If it interferes with the real-time conversations and fun times you’re having with others, then you could definitely cut back. Otherwise, social media is not the devil, and we shouldn’t treat it as such.

Don’t underestimate the power of your own mind; your mindset is what either carries you through the hard times or drags you through the mud. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are very tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” If you make it your goal to become more present, many other missing pieces of your life will fall into place.