When was the last time you said “if only…” or “after (something cool happens) everything will be better…”? Maybe it’s buying a shiny new toy, or going on a trip, moving to a new home, getting married, having kids, or finding a new job. The list of things you are waiting for can go on … and on.

When we do this, we are trying to live in the future. The problem is that there’s always something around the corner to capture your interest and make you believe that life will be better “after”. My life, right now (and in the next four months) is already hectic, busy and exhausting. There’s a part of me that can’t wait until December when I can finally relax, but I know that there will be something around the corner (who knows what) to make me want that month to finally pass so I can take a break from it all.

My solution to the stress? I’m desperately trying to be present right now.

As I write this I’m putting all of my energy into the words, trying to form my thoughts into a palpable blog post that is easy to understand. I’m doing my best to not get distracted by Twitter, Google+ and email (and mostly failing at that attempt). So, I (just now) turned on Think (a really great app that helps you focus on one computer task at a time), closed all of the other tabs in my browser and continued to write this post.

You see, all we have is now. Literally right now. Have you ever been talking to someone and they weren’t paying attention because they were thinking about tomorrow, or the next few hours, or maybe even dwelling on what happend yesterday? Have you ever been that person? (I think we all have.) Have you ever lost (or almost lost) someone you loved dearly and tried to remember the last thing you said to them? If you feel something, and it’s important to you, don’t hold it in. If something crosses your path that could be life-changing, what would happen if you weren’t looking?

As much as we may try, we can’t live in the future. If the next four months fly by for me and I don’t embrace each moment, then the amazing experiences I’m about to go through will have been for naught. My moment is right now, not next month or next year. I don’t want my life to fly by, I want to enjoy it. I want to listen deeply when my friends and I are having a conversation. I want to give my full attention to my nieces and nephews when they’re showing me something that they consider to be extremely cool. I want to focus on my photography, writing and work without getting distracted. I want to live with clarity.

Next year, next month or even next week may never happen. You just never know. Now is all we ever have, so why not consciously live in each tiny moment? They might be painful moments, but we can’t live without pain. Difficult moments make us stronger, and they also make the not-so-difficult moments feel like a cool breeze on a hot day. Living in this moment right now makes me feel very little (or no) stress about the days to come, and more importantly it makes me present and available to those I love.