Being present requires one thing: a deep self-confidence that you are good enough. In order to be in the present, you must trust that you will be able to handle whatever comes your way in life.

When we were toddlers around the age of two, we had that deep self-trust. We knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were good enough, because we had no concept that we could be anything else but good enough. We were at ease with who we were. We were open and curious about each new moment. We had no expectations about what was supposed to happen. We didn’t judge events or people as good or bad, nor did we blame anyone. Instead, we adapted, showing our feelings in the moment and without reservation. Our joy was complete joy. Our anger and our tears were full and intense. We recovered from the setbacks of life in minutes. We were not self-conscious about what we were doing or about how we looked while doing it. Life was an adventure that we explored passionately and intensely.

As an adult seeking to be present when the future looks uncertain and even scary, you must rediscover this child-like state of mind. You will find it when you know in your heart that you are already prepared for this moment. Then you will be free to be true to who you really are at any-time, anywhere. Your joy will abound because you have no reason to fear what might happen if you make a mistake or if you don’t do things the way someone else would want you to do them. You are good enough, even if others disagree.

When you do what’s important now for you, you create a past that leaves you ready to handle the present. By default, the future is taking care of itself as you make decisions that are acceptable to you no matter what happens tomorrow. You no longer give yourself reasons to feel self-doubt, anxiety, or resentment. You are doing the best you can. You accept that what happens next is not in your control. You trust that you will handle whatever comes your way, no matter how fabulous or awful it may be.

When you are fully present, you are open and vulnerable, which is the feeling of love. You say and do whatever comes to your mind without filtering it. You disclose your true feelings, right in the moment. You follow your inner spirit, trusting that you are doing what is right for you in that moment. If you don’t get the result you wanted, you don’t judge yourself or others as having failed. It’s just what’s happening in this moment. Your only question is, what’s important for me in this new moment? In this way, your excellence is allowed to emerge from within you in ways that you may never have dreamed possible.

You might appreciate that being present can also be a very dangerous way to live. You might say or do something that someone in your life is not going to like. You might offend someone important at work. You might do something impulsive, like have a sexual fling or quit your job. You might spend yourself into a deep debt. You might even lose control of your emotions and do something vindictive or cowardly that you might later painfully regret.

For these reasons, you need to feel very safe in order to dare to be present. When you expose who you really are, unfiltered and unguarded, you are vulnerable. Is it a coincidence that we typically only show the “dark” side of our personalities to those whom we love the most? We don’t yell at our boss or at our customers. We yell at our spouses, our children, and perhaps our employees. We feel safe with them. We know we can be who we really are when we are with people who love us or who have no power over us.

In order to be in the present, you must learn how to feel safe even when a situation feels threatening to you. You must learn how to risk being vulnerable even when you can get seriously hurt, emotionally or physically. Does this not explain the appeal of “extreme” sports? When a person is climbing the side of a mountain with only a thin rope separating them from certain death, that person becomes very present. Is this not also what great athletes do in the last minutes of a championship game? They are vulnerable to the failure of disappointing their fans, yet they remain focused on doing what’s important now for them, in order to get what they want in that moment – victory. They put out of their minds any fear of the consequences if they fail to perform. They feel safe within themselves, at least in that situation, knowing that they are doing the best they can regardless of what results occur. If they don’t do this, then their self-doubt will most assuredly lead to a decline in their ability to perform with excellence.

Being capable of being present is a paradox. You must feel safe especially when a situation feels dangerous. Being present is therefore entirely about creating for yourself the ability to feel safe, no matter what is happening around you. You create this for yourself when you are able to seek fulfillment from within yourself, rather than searching for it from outside sources. When you feel fulfilled from within, you will feel good enough to make the mistakes that you will inevitably make when you dare to do what’s important for you, right in the moment.

When you are fully present, you are accepting of yourself. Your sense of self-worth is not linked to the world around you. Your every thought, feeling, and action is yours alone. In contrast, the thoughts, feelings, and actions of others are theirs alone. There is no such thing as blame, because they didn’t “do it” to you, and you didn’t “do it” to them. Life is happening and you are merely adapting to it. The journey hurts because you are giving up your desire to have power and influence over others. The rewards are sweet, however, because you are gaining power over yourself, the only person over whom any of us truly have control.

[Excerpted from What’s Important Now, pg 15]

p.s. enjoy this collection of famous quotes on living in the present