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10 Ways to Seize the Day

Written by Paul Wolf

An entrepreneur celebrates a deal he put together: "I was completely focused."10 ways to enjoy the present and live in the moment

A tennis player explains her victory: "I was in the zone."

A lover recounts last night's romance: "There was nothing else on the planet but us."

Living in the moment is not a mysterious concept. We've all done it at one time or another. The key to a full life is to regularly live in the moment, to participate fully and not miss a thing.

Even in times of distress, living in the moment is our best chance to grow stronger and smarter.

Whether you are changing diapers, paying bills or making love, you can enrich your daily life with focus and concentration. Here are our Top 10 ways to live in the moment.

1. Do one thing at a time.
First meetings. Next daycare. Then groceries. You do one thing but you are thinking about the others. To live in the moment, you must learn to compartmentalize — to concentrate only on the task at hand. Like the surgeon who puts thoughts of her divorce aside while in the operating room, with practice, you too can learn focus.

2. Stop and look around.
The fog of worry keeps us from observing sights, sounds and smells. The next time you feel stressed, rather than tuning out, try to observe things very closely instead. Focus on the color of a sunset or the leaves blowing on a tree.

3. Listen to people.
We've become a society adept at half-listening to people while our minds are elsewhere. Whether it's a co-worker, your child or a friend doing the talking, practice giving them your full and undivided attention.

4. Meditate or pray.
Over three decades ago, Dr. Herbert Benson coined the term "relaxation response" to explain the physiology of quiet states of mind. Whether you are offering a prayer to God or focusing on your breathing, your brain gets bathed in alpha waves and your blood pressure drops. Give it a few minutes and you won't want the moment to end.

5. Move with awareness.
When you dance in time to the music or row in unison with your crew team, you are anchored to the moment.

6. Focus on life's pleasures.
Celebrate life's pleasures, big and small, says psychologist Stella Resnick, author of The Pleasure Zone. No one needs to tell joyful people to live in the moment; they're already there.

7. Breathe deeply.
Have you been so busy lately you haven't had the chance to catch your breath? Learn to inhale and exhale slowly and with awareness.

8. Look for the unique.
Even if you walk your dog along the same route every morning, there are always subtle changes. Make a habit of looking for something new — a bed of flowers that has begun to bloom or a building with a fresh coat of paint.

9. Eliminate what-ifs and if-onlys.
"If only I could get that raise, then I'll be happy." "What if I never find the right man?"If only I could lose 20 pounds, then I'll start enjoying life."

There is nothing wrong with having goals, but don't let them distract you from the here and now.

10. Seek a positive spin.
So you threw out your back on the first day of your ski trip. Don't resign yourself to misery. Don't "put life on hold" until you're back on your feet. If you are creative, you will always find something to appreciate. When you live in the moment, you identify opportunity, even if those opportunities are nothing more than the chance to practice courage and patience.