How to Live in the Present

I recently had the pleasure of traveling to Costa Rica with my boyfriend as part of a writing gig for a travel planning service called Anywhere Costa Rica. As part of our deal, Anywhere helped us plan an adventurous (and affordable!) getaway—sending us to four beautiful destinations over a two-week period.  The company also set us up with tours and excursions that took us off the beaten path, forced us out of our comfort zone, and introduced us to the “Pura Vida” way of life. Prior to our trip, I was working frantically to wrap up all of my freelance projects and get my website launched so that I wouldn’t have to worry about working while I was away. Despite my best intentions, this meant putting in late nights, skipping my usual workouts, and holing myself away at home as I raced against the clock. When our trip finally rolled around, I still hadn’t launched my site, and I had a million things left on my to-do list (of course). Initially, I felt nervous about leaving, worrying that I’d miss major opportunities because I didn’t have my site ready. I even planned to carve out a little time for work during my trip, feeling like I hadn’t done enough to enjoy a full vacation. But by the time we touched down in Costa Rica, I knew I needed to just relax and LET IT ALL GO. I needed to relieve myself of my stresses, enjoy the experience, and give myself a break! It was time to lock up the laptop, disconnect from the modern world, and embrace the HERE and NOW. Over the next two weeks, we traveled from remote surf towns to rainforests— spending our days reading, journaling, kayaking, surfing, and exploring uncharted territories on the back of an ATV. We didn’t have WiFi and we didn’t watch TV. We were perfectly content reading in our hammock, talking, laughing, and listening to the waves crash. It was exactly what I needed. The simplicity became medicine for my soul! I’ve always treasured small moments like watching the sunset, singing in the shower, or journaling before bed—but I’d become too distracted by my work to allow these moments to shine. The trip jolted me back to my senses—reminding me to stop worrying, to live presently, and take pleasure in subtle moments. When we live in the present, we can fully appreciate our surroundings. We are aware of the simple beauty in nature, the peace in stillness, and we can feel the warmth from those who enrich and strengthen our lives. Here’s what helped me learn how to live in the present.

How to Live in the Present

What are the simple pleasures in your life?  

What are small moments that make you laugh, smile, or feel strong?

What people or places give you clarity?

Since returning home, I’ve made a concerted effort to take breaks from my work, slow down when I talk, and become more aware of my intentions. I’ve picked up meditation, started going for runs at sunset, and scheduled more quality (face-to-face) time with the important people in my life.

You really don’t need a vacation to uncover the hidden gems and pleasures in your life — you just need a reminder!

To help you reveal these moments, and get to a more “present” state of mind, I challenge you to complete one or more of the following activities this week:

  1. Go out to eat by yourself. Put away your phone and practice sitting, thinking, and observing your surroundings.
  2. Visit a quiet and beautiful spot in your neighborhood. Bring a journal and draw or write down whatever comes to mind.
  3. Pick up the phone and call someone you haven’t talked to in years, someone who has added value to your life.
  4. Exercise an old talent or skill, something you haven’t done in awhile. This could be singing, painting, writing, dancing, cooking, etc. Whatever it is, step away from your computer screen and release your creativity!
  5. Go for a walk or a run WITHOUT music and smile at every person you see.

It’s difficult to calm ourselves down, disconnect, and escape from our go-go-go lives, but when we finally do, the rewards are priceless.

Complete one or more of these actions and let me know what you learned!

What simple pleasures did you pick up along the way?

Ryan Burch Ryan is a freelance writer & brand strategist based in Santa Monica, CA. She is the cofounder of SOLO (, a website dedicated to helping women find their strongest, most authentic selves. She is a regular contributor  to Career Contessa, The Western Wild, Elana Lyn and Simply Stylist. Her writing has also been featured on Refinery29, Levo League and WeWork. 

Images: Featured Image // Gal Meets Glam

2 Responses to How to Live in the Present

  1. Great reminder! Ever since being diagnosed with thyroid cancer two years ago, I’ve learned to live in the moment. I believe in taking breaks from work and doing what makes me happy. It’s so important to disconnect and just take care of yourself from time-to-time. I went for a walk yesterday morning without music and greeted every person I saw. It was a great way to start my day!

    • Elana Lyn Gross says:

      I’m so glad! I need to be better about disconnecting and relaxing and this was a great reminder for me too.

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