As someone who spends a lot of time writing (and thinking about) words, it’s not unusual for me to stumble upon new revelations about them, but recently I had a realization about two words that make a really big impact: right now.
I frequently find myself making sweeping statements — things like “I’m so stressed!” or “I’m obsessed with [insert current obsession]!” or “I can’t live without [thing I didn’t even know about a year ago]!” or “I’m so upset with [irritant-of-the-moment] — and, while those are partially due to my flair for making dramatic proclamations, I don’t think I’m the only one who makes broad statements like these.
The thing is, sentences like the ones above (and, to be honest, most sentences) are only true right now. Sure, they might be true in the future, but that’s not a given. And, yes, they might have been true in the past, but so was the statement “I can only drink from a bottle,” and (hopefully…) that’s no longer true. The only time we can be absolutely certain of is right now. The only statements that are 100% true are the ones that occurring in this moment, which is something most of us frequently forget.
I spend a lot of time trying to stay present, but the truth is: the only thing we ever are is present, like it or not, and using these two magical little words — “right now” — can transform how we perceive the present. It might seem minor, but I actually feel differently when I say, “I’m so stressed,” instead of, “I’m so stressed right now.”
Tacking those two words on the end of a sentence might seem silly, but semantics matter. Adding the “right now” to most sentences can have one (or more!) of the following impacts…
- Adding “right now” can reassure you that a bad situation you’re in isn’t forever
- Adding “right now” can prompt you to appreciate a good situation you’re enjoying
- Adding “right now” can bring you back to the moment (countering anxious thoughts!)
- Adding “right now” can inspire you to begin again or do things differently
- Adding “right now” can remind you that just because it’s not now doesn’t mean it’s never
- Adding “right now” can inspire you to focus on the task that’s right in front of you
- Adding “right now” can make huge projects or tasks seem less daunting
- Adding “right now” can boost your enjoyment of a moment that won’t last forever
- Adding “right now” can allow you to mentally step back from pointless worrying
- Adding “right now” can give your full attention when engaging with others
- Adding “right now” can help you relax when you’re feeling very overwhelmed
- Adding “right now” can invigorate self-compassion and cut down on guilt
- Adding “right now” can maintain self-control and more easily overcome cravings
- Adding “right now” can mitigate feelings of physical pain by easing mental suffering
To be fair, most of these things are benefits of simply being fully present in the moment, but knowing we should be present and actually being present are two very different things. For some reason, adding “right now” seems to work really well for me when it comes to triggering me to be in the moment. Here are just a few ways I’ve used it this week (and how it’s helped). These examples are all kind of frivolous, but it worked for much more intense thoughts as well!
|What I Initially Thought||How I Felt||When I Added
|How I Felt|
|“I’m spending way too much time on Instagram.”||Annoyed that I’m wasting my time on social media; frustrated that I can’t stop scrolling; distressed that I can’t find a way to make a living from my art that others seem to love||“I’m spending way too much time on Instagram right now.”||
Still annoyed, but hopeful I won’t always spend so much time on it; inspired to stop scrolling because I realized I can change; stopped identifying my current action as a guaranteed future state
|“I’m so happy to be here in my room with a new book, cozy on a rainy day!”||
Comfortable and relaxed, but distracted by the to-do list I wasn’t tackling; worried I should be out with friends on a Saturday night instead
|“I’m so happy to be here right now in my room with a new book, cozy on a rainy day!”||
Grateful for the alone time I so desperately craved after socializing all day; engrossed in my book and assured that I’d tackle to-do’s tomorrow; reminded that I often long to be in bed with a book when I’m out and about
|“I’m so overwhelmed by all of the things I have to get done this week!”||Overwhelmed (obviously); stressed and anxious about the lengthy to-do list that seems to be never-ending; tempted to lie down and do none of it||“I’m so overwhelmed right now by all of the things I have to get done this week!”||
Still a bit frazzled by the to-do list, but reminded that I’ll soon have the tasks done (it’s always more stressful to think of them than do them!); grateful for projects that bring in money and for the personal to-do’s that, while annoying at the time, will bring my future self (and others!) joy
“I can’t stop eating these delicious but terrible-for-me snacks!”
|Frustrated with my lack of self-control; angry with myself for buying the snacks in the first place; envisioned myself unable to ever stop eating said snacks, stuck in and endless snack-and-shame spiral||“I can’t stop eating these delicious but terrible-for-me snacks right now!”||
Reminded that guilt is a waste of time and I should either enjoy the snacks or put them away (which I did!); felt lucky to have snacks (affording groceries isn’t a given for me!); made aware that my future self could be someone who doesn’t eat such unhealthy snacks (unlikely, but possible!)
Hopefully these little examples inspire you to give “right now” a try and see if those two little words motivate you to return to the present the way they have for me! It might seem small, but staying present is hard and you never know what little thing will help make it easier for you. It’s cliche to say, but there’s truth in the idea that every second is a chance to turn your life around. Your whole existence is just a bunch of choices you make, and you can change at any moment. It’s not often easy to do, but the first step is paying attention to what you’re doing now, how it’s making you feeling, and deciding if it’s what you want to be doing in the future. Your “right now” is always up to you!