Living in the Now When It’s Stressful: 4 Mindfulness Tips

“If you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.” ~Unknown

A few weeks ago, I learned that my beloved dog, Bella, had become ill with kidney disease—a condition that will most likely not allow her to live longer than a year. I was devastated when I heard this news.

At only eight years old, Bella didn’t seem old enough to be so sick, let alone be a year (or less) away from dying. Coping with her condition and the impending loss has been incredibly difficult—nearly impossible at times—but amid all of the pain and anxiety, I’ve come to one powerful conclusion: Life is too unpredictable not to enjoy the moment.

The number of moments I have left with Bella—or with anyone, for that matter—are unknown. For the past three years (ever since I launched my blog, Positively Present), I’ve tried to focus on living in the now, but nothing has made that goal clearer than Bella’s recent diagnosis. Realizing my time with her is limited makes every minute even more important.

That being said, staying present is still a daily battle. In the throes of my constantly racing thoughts—How long will she live? Is she feeling okay? Why isn’t she eating? What does the vet’s tone really mean?—it’s been incredibly difficult to enjoy the time I have with Bella.

And, unfortunately, more often than not I find myself living not in the moment, but in the future, worrying about what will become of Bella and my life without her.

Worrying about the future has been severely hindering my ability to live fully in the present moment, which is what I need to do most in this limited time I have left with my precious pup.

Knowing the importance of living in the moment is one thing; taking action is another. It can be challenging to live in the now when then now is tough, but I’ve discovered a few tactics and tips to help me stay focused on the moment—and enjoy every minute I have with Bella.

Here five ways to stay present—even when life is painful:

1. Realize thoughts are not necessarily reality.

When my mind is heavy with worry, my racing thoughts—filled with what-ifs and imagined scenarios—take control. Things that have not happened—and might never happen!—can seem so real.

For example, earlier today Bella was limping and I was certain the vet would tell me that her disease had worsened, and we’d need to take some drastic action. I spent a good part of my morning dreading the appointment at the vet and worrying about the potentially terrible outcome.

When the vet took a look at her paw, he found that her nails, which had been causing her a bit of pain, just needed to be clipped. In less than a minute, she was good as new, putting her full weight on her paw.

This is a perfect example of how our thoughts can take control and distract us from the present.  Rather than looking at the facts—Bella’s paw was hurt, the vet was going to take a look, and hopefully she’d be okay—my mind wandered into negative (and imaginary) territory.

Staying in the present requires recognizing the difference between what-ifs and what is.

2. Use breathing to center you in the now.

When I’m really stressed out, I’ll take a few deep breaths to calm myself before taking action or allowing myself to launch into overanalyzing the situation currently plaguing me.

When I first found out about Bella’s diagnosis, I wanted to panic, to scream and cry, and find someone—anyone—to blame. My initial reaction came from a plethora of imagined scenarios—she wouldn’t live longer than a week, she would be miserable, she would be in terrible pain—rather than what was really happening in that moment.

Instead of reacting instantly, I paused and took three deep breaths. In those moments, I came back to the now and realized I didn’t yet know much about her diagnosis. I realized I would talk to the vet, take the best action possible, and make the most of the time I had with her. With each breath, I exhaled panic and fear and inhaled peace and acceptance.

No matter what the situation, there is always time for a deep breath, for a pause that will bring you back to the moment.

3. Stop comparing now to then.

When I feel Bella’s thinning body or see her spending more and more time curled up on the couch, it’s hard for me not to compare the way she is now—thinner, more mellow, less playful—to what she was just a few weeks ago. However, comparison is one of the quickest ways to leave the moment and find yourself dragged back into the past.

When changes occur (especially negative changes), it’s difficult not to compare, to want things to be what they once were, but these comparisons are nothing but trouble. The more I accept what is happening now—even when it’s painful—the more I am able to enjoy my time with Bella.

Yes, I would love her to be the dog she once was, but wanting that won’t make it happen. It will only make it more difficult to enjoy the present—and that’s the last thing I want to do.

To make the most of the moment, you must accept what is and stop comparing it to what was.

4. Focus on the happy moments.

More and more I find myself dwelling on the difficult moments with Bella. I dread the morning and evening doses of medicine, which Bella detests. I experience almost as much anxiety as Bella when I have to take her to her increasingly frequent vet appointments.

What I haven’t been doing, though, is allowing the positive experiences I have with her to be the focus. To make the most of the moments, I need to dwell on the times we share that are still so wonderful—the morning cuddles, occasional playtimes, and the affectionate licks.

No day is going to be perfect. I can choose to focus more on the happy moments than on the painful ones. As we all know, our minds are powerful things—and it’s up to us to guide them in a positive direction.

If you’ve tried to stay present during stressful or difficult situations, you know just how hard living in the now can be at times. It’s easy and fun to live in the now when your nowis a happy one, but when times are tough, staying present is rough.

Even though coping with Bella’s disease is filled with heartbreak, when I stay in the present, I get to enjoy the moments I still have with her.

Through this experience I’ve learned that even the most difficult moments are worth being present for.

Photo by Tess Mayer

Lori’s Note: Dani has generously offered to give away two free copies of her new workbook: Living Happily Ever Now: A Guide + Workbook for Living in the Present Moment. Leave a comment for a chance to win! I will choose two winners at random on Monday, June 25th.

The winners:

About Dani DiPirro

Dani DiPirro, founder of, is the author of Stay Positive, The Positively Present Guide to Life, the Effortless Inspiration series, and a variety of e-books. She is also the founder of Twenty3, a design studio focused on promoting positive, modern graphic design and illustration. Check out her new books on Gratitude and Living in the Moment!

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  • Maria

    I just found this site and am incredibly grateful I did.  I could definitely use some insight into being mindful in the midst of stress – always something I’m working on.

  • Hippyzenchick

    Reading this whilst sat in work, stressing and stressing about stressing! Thank you for writing this! This has put my day in perspective! I worry far too much, constantly!

  • Eleanor Taylor

    I had a very similar experience this time last year, when I discovered my dog had a malignant tumour on his jaw and as a result, only a month left to live. It was probably the most distressing time in my life so far and so I’m so sorry that you are going through the same thing. It was focusing on the happy moments and making the most of the time we had left that got me through it, and I’m definitely going to remember that as well as the other tips next time I face a really stressful situation. 

    Best of wishes to you and to Bella!

  • Eleanor – Thank you so much for your wishes for me and Bella. She seems to be doing oka y right now, but I know we have a rough road ahead of us. 

    Hippyzenchick – So glad this helped to put your day in perspective! 🙂 Worrying is overrated and usually gets us nowhere. 

    Maria – Tiny Budda is the best! So excited for you that you found it! 

  • Wow, Dani! My heart goes out to you and Bella. I have two beautiful chocolate Labradors, Dakota (7) and Cheyenne (6), that I cherish with every fiber of my being. They bring me such happiness and complete joy.

    But you’ve hit something on the nail that I’ve been noticing within the last year or so. When we first brought home our pups (at 8 weeks old each), we took them to the dog park all the time, spent countless hours with them playing and taking loads of cute pictures. Now that they are older, we (my husband and I) hardly go to the dog park, fit in play times and I can’t even remember the last time I took a picture of either one. Have they changed? No. I’ve allowed less important things to take my mind to the past (which I cannot change) and the future (which I have limited control).

    My mind is not in the present and hasn’t been for years. Maybe it’s the contentment or maybe it’s just the lack of passion/appreciation for each new day.

    Whatever it is… your post has reminded me of the importance of the present. Now is the time to make that shift and realize that every single moment is precious for tomorrow may never come.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Fiona

    Hi Dani
    My thoughts are with you I have 2 border terriers who I love to bits and are like extra kids to me. Dogs are part of our family’s.

    Recently I lost someone very close to me very quickly with a extremely aggressive form of cancer. He was 46, a non smoker and until the diagnosis appeared very fit and well. It was hard going through the final weeks of his life for all concerned and at at times it was hard to live in the present. I think times such as these give us a focus on what is and what isn’t important. It was important for me to let that person know how big a part of my life they were and how much love I had for them.

    When tough things happen it is always a reminder to notice the good in our lives and to make sure we show our love to those who are important to us. To take one day at a time and to relish every minute available to us.

    Wishing you and your pup the best for the time you have together

    Fiona x

  • Missalexisrai

    Hello Dani,
    My prayers go out to you and Bella. Stay strong. Stay positive. Stay present.

    Alexis Rai

  • Sasssandy5

    Dani, what a great post – THANK YOU and thanks to lovely Bella too. It can be challenging sometimes just to accept being in the here and now, especially when we are facing situations that we’d prefer not to. My ability to whizz future-wards into ‘And then I’ll…’ mode is something I’m learning to calm. Now is where we all are and it’s always enough and exactly where we need to be. I, like you, am a big believer in adapting my thinking, breathing, thanking, and centering when life seems ‘unfair’ or ‘too difficult’. A phrase that I repeat to myself a lot is ‘Life will never give us anything more than we can handle right now’ (a wonderful friend said this to me once) and that has been a real booster for me. Maybe that’ll offer some comfort… Enjoy every moment that you can with Bella. I wish you peace, acceptance, energy, strength and happiness. x

  • Desperatelyseekingkristen

    This post was exactly what I needed. After deciding to stay with a man that cheated on me, I am constantly in fear of the what ifs. It drags me down so deep and I can’t escape the despair. This post reminds me that I need to focus on the accomplished relationship we have made thus far. The hard work has been giving us a better relationship than before. I can dwell on the past and fears or I can take what I have which is faith and hop and run with it. These little reminders you write about are exactly what I need

  • HI Dani, I’ve been through a similar process with some of my dogs so I thought I would share a couple of things I did to help me through it.

    First of all, I told all of my dogs who came to this point in their lives that I would do the best for them and be there with them til the end. I said it out loud to them in a quiet moment before the actual end. Somehow that verbal promise helped me know that at some point I would do what I didn’t think I could do, for the dog and not for myself. I would put them first before my own emotions. I think once you say it, it is real and helps you know that you have to prioritize not by what you wish to be, but what is. I hope that makes sense.

    Second, remind yourself that the dog does not know it is sick or dying. A dog knows one of two things when it wakes up in the morning: I feel good or I don’t feel good. As long as the dog can take pleasure in eating and petting and comfort (warm bed, cool fan, etc.), I would say they have quality of life. Take a minute to assess this each day and remind yourself that you will do all you can to focus on those basic pleasures and use that as your guide.

    Your dog is giving you a gift by showing you the value of ALL stages of life, and how to respect the dignity of each stage. I know it can be heartbreaking, but you will get through it. Time. 🙂 Take care!

  • Ramblerchik

    This was very helpful. I am going through organizational changes at work and they are very stressful. 🙁 Thank you for sharing your tips.

  • G Dereksen

    I am so sorry about Bella. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Thank you for writing this. Very helpful. #4 stop comparing. Really helped me. My cat who I have had since birth is almost 20 years old. I am really seeing the signs of aging now. But learning from you I am now thinking things like: he loves to be petted and played with (instead of being upset when he jumps if I touch a acky spot); he can jump on my tall bed (instead of worrying if or when he will no longer be able to); he ate all his food & eats hard food (instead of worrying about the weight loss). And many more. Thank you for giving me many more better memories.

  • Thanks a lot! Hugs for you and Bella.

    Usually I do pretty well, but yesterday I learned that an influential person in society has lied so badly that it might even result in breaking up our family, because other people will believe him far more than us. It makes me so terribly sad and angry at the same time that I lost focus for a day.
    Funny. Because I always admired the way children deal with stress and negative issues so well, and I’ve always tried to teach them the behaviour/attitude you describe.

    Time for metta and hope things work out the way they should.

    Thanks a lot!

  • Hugs to you and Bella! Thank you for sharing your difficult story… it definitely helped me “get it”.

    “If you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.” ~Unknown

  • I continue to need to work on exactly this. While living with the problems associated with aging parents and aging pets, I find myself fretting about “when the shoe is going to drop,” rather than just enjoying when things are (relatively) okay. Thanks for sharing your story and your tips, and best to you and Bella.

  • Rose Ann

    my cat was diagnosed with kidney disease 2 1/2 years ago.  he’s been treated with azodyl, 
    2 capsules a day.  he’s thinner but still has a good quality of life.   i’ll take all the days and nights i can get with him, he is 17.  maybe this will help, goodluck. 

  • omg thank GOD for this piece! I’ve been looking for you for a while now!

  • Lori

    So appropriate for my life right now. Exactly the perspective I needed in a way that I could relate to. Thank you!

  • Bernice McDonnell

    Oh Dani, my thoughts are with you. Enjoy every second you have left with your precious Bella. You’re so right – living in the now is bloody hard when the now isn’t so good, but there’s still so much to appreciate about Bella and your times together. Give her a big hug from me.

  • Ashley

    I had a very similar experience last summer when my 7 1/2 year old dog Roscoe was diagnosed with Cushings Syndrome. My family had given him to my boyfriend, who lives with his sister and two nephews, thinking that they could give him more attention and playtime (and I would also get to see him more often). I felt absolutely terrible when his change in appearance and demeanor ended up being due to a costly disease. I felt as if we should have known he was sick and felt guilty for saddling my boyfriend with an ill dog. I kept running over what ifs and what we might have done to make him sick.

    We ended up putting Roscoe down at the end of September, which broke my heart. Happily my mother, sister and I were all able to make it the night before to say goodbye. I have come to appreciate how this situation showed me some wonderful qualities in my boyfriend, who never complained about having to care for the dog and kept my family updated through the process. I learned that we could really be there for each other during a difficult time.I am also happy that I was able to spend more time with him and help care for him on my visits. It was and still is very hard to put the guilt behind me, but I try to appreciate how this positively affected my relationship and how we did what was best for Roscoe.

    I hope you enjoy the time left with Bella and can one day appreciate the lessons this experience will have on you. I know what a difficult time this is. *HUGS*

  • a_distorted_reality

    Oh Dani, my thoughts are with you. Enjoy every second you have left with your precious Bella. You’re so right – living in the now is bloody hard when the now isn’t so good, but there’s still so much to appreciate about Bella and your times together. Give her a big hug from me.

  • Clare Kirkpatrick

    This came at just the right time for me. With four children at home with me, it’s a daily struggle to stay present under stress, so thank you! I would love to win a copy of your book too 🙂

  • Aimee Levesque

    Thank you for sharing with such honesty. Your tips made much sense to me, as I have been sick for 6 weeks now, and dealing with an ever-changing situation. As you said, comparing now with before will just cause suffering; in fact, it is damageable to my health as I’m adding anxiety to my symptoms. Thank you, and I wish you enjoyable present times with your dog.

  • Kraymond35

    This felt so real to me, especially since one of my major challenges of living in the present, is dealing with grief and loss (even if it is immenent grief and loss).  It is so helpful to have a reminder that in order to truly enjoy life, it is important to live in the here and the now, and happiness will than follow.  Otherwise, thinking of the “what if’s” keeps me in the state of constant anxiety and sadness.   Thank you

  • MLC

    Just letting you know that there’s another animal lover out here who 150% understands what you’re going through. Thank you for sharing and wishing you many happy days.

  • Gina

    Although I have been following this site for some time, it is my first time posting. After a long, hard year and a half of my husband enduring unemployment and a mental break down, he walked out on me and my two boys three months ago leaving us with no financial help. I try to live in the now, to focus on the happy moments NOW with my boys, but some days it is hard when there is so much to worry about. How am I going to pay the bills, keep working on my business, not just survive but thrive as a single momma. It is too easy to slip into the insurmountable to do list and forget to take time to just listen to the boys’ laughter or just simply be with them. Thanks for the gentle reminder. I think I’ll write down these four suggestions and put them where I can see them regularly. No use to think about what should have been/could have been anymore. Nothing to do but move forward and be there, truly be there for my boys.

  • lost soul

    I’m sorry to hear about bella! There are things that we just can’t do anything about! Things that we have no control, but we expect oursleves to hold control over them and change them and we think that by worrying about, overthinkng about it, is going to solve the problem, when the fact is that it only adds to our problems. We know its important for us to be calm at that moment and yet we are at our wits’ ends! Also, it’s always very easy to give compassionate messages to others in their difficult times of life, but it gets that much only harder to appy them in our life, when we are passing through such a time. Maybe that’s why we have friends and other’s in our life to remind us things we have taught them and forgotten!! I’m sure bella was an adorble part of your life! Enjoy your time with her and cherish these moments!! 🙂

    Also, I can’t get myself to say it was a nice post because it referred to the loss of someone you love and that must be painfull, however thank you for showing the courage and sharing your thoughts and enlightening others like me , who are in a lost place. It reminded people like me, that life is short and unpredictable.

    By the way, the breathng tip has always worked like a miracle to me and I’m gonna implement the other tips too in my times of stress!!

  • Dash4you

    Thank you Dani for sharing your struggle with living here in the now when it’s less than what is desired. I am also a dog lover! It takes courage to live and love and accept how life really is. I think your story will stay with me forever as a model of being mindfully here even in the heartbreak of love for our little dogs. Mine is Socrates a mini-dachshund. The first one was Plato. I understand that loss is part of life, we don’t have to like it!
    Thank you again for writing and sharing your Bella with us!

  • Jonathan

    You hit the nail on the head. It’s one thing to KNOW I should stay in the present, but it’s quite another to actually BE in the present, and to quiet that incessant mental chatter. I will try your tips…thanks.

  • tryingtofindme

    this post came for me at a perfect time. i’m in the middle of a separation, possible divorce, and we still live together. it’s terribly painful because we have good days and i wish for better times and reconciliation, and patience is not one of my strengths. through this whole thing, my mind is crazy. i revert to past good times and compare to now, i create scenarios in my head to worry about, i over analyze  EVERYTHING! this was a good reminder of things to bring me back down to reality, and now… and it is incredibly difficult. thank you for sharing, and i’m so sorry about bella. 

  • Dixon T

    After many years of wandering in a desert of negativity, I have now discovered a beautiful cactus flower amongest the thorny cactii. Your suggestions are like dew drops on the parched lips of this weary traveller”, comments Lilani Dickson.

  • Roo

    Thank you for this article Dani and I am so sorry to hear about Bella’s disease.  I read an article once about a woman who’s 14 year old son died.  While she was devastated she had a fantastic attitude and something she said really stayed with me over the years.  She said she focused on how blessed she was to have her son in her life even if it was only for 14 years. It IS a struggle to stay in the now when our current moments are painful but Bella can be an example for you.  I don’t know of any greater model for living in the present than a dog. Best of luck to you and I hope you and Bella enjoy many more days together.

  • Athenagirl502

    I loved this story and advice. Today is one month since my best friend, my pug, Athena died. Her love was so unconditional and unwavering. I lost alot of moments with her because of worry of what life would be without her, wishing it was just a nightmare. I learned alot and live for today, tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone. Thank you….I’ve printed this out and will refer to it should I find myself getting lost again.

  • Victoria

    It’s always good to be reminded to “enjoy the now”. Such an easy concept yet how our minds distract us from what’s in front of us. I am making more of an effort to really be present when my kids share things with me and after this story, enjoy my sweet papillon, Murphy, who has a huge chunk of my heart. Thanks, Victoria

  • Noa

    This was really helpful. I’ve been really stressed out about certain changes I’m considering making in my life. I’ve been so focused on what might happen and the consequences of each potential change, and I’ve been forgetting all this time that these changes in my life are all positive! It’s so much easier to get caught up in the future than life in the present. I’m going to stick a post-it with these tips on my mirror . Thank you!

  • sid.

    I am struggling with whether I should leave a comment now, or wait until I am in a better mood or outside of work hours, because what if they are seeing this through the spyware, and shouldnt I be doing something else… whatever, I hope I win the book – if not I will buy it, unless I need that money for dog food or gas or something… Well I guess not gas, gas used to be cheaper…

  • Debbie

    Wow!!!! So insightful. I battle with living in the now everyday. I’m gonna keep this close and look at it everyday 🙂 Thank you so much for this!

  • Lsparks89

    Loved this post! Just started grad school and already feeling stressed. Always need to try to keep myself in the present and enjoy how blessed I am to be getting a higher education. So sorry about Bella- hoping your day with her has been fun and memorable! 🙂

  • Ck

    My daughter and I needed to read this post.  she has been struggling with axiety and I have been dealing with how to parent her (she is 15, depressed and struggling to stay in school.) thank you

  • Jennifer

    This is such a great post, Dani. Thank you for sharing your experience and what you’ve learned with us here. I’m so sorry to hear about your dog — my own dog developed kidney disease many years ago and it was a painful thing to watch. We  had so many wonderful moments together, though, and those are what I remember most. I think about her often and more often than not it brings a smile to my face and a warmth to my heart. I wish the same for you.
    Thank you again for the tips. Being present can be hard enough even when things are going relatively smoothly, so having some key things to return to to stay present during stressful times will be incredibly useful.
    Wishing peace and love to you and Bella.

  • Hazel

    I totally understand this post.  My Dad passed away last year but I spent the last few years before that helping my Mum cope with his illness and gradual decline.  It was a really bad time for us all, however although I realised that he wasn’t going to get any better, the time I spent with him became precious and we had some really special times together.  I can see now that at these times we were just living in the now and I am thankful that I was able to be with him amd experience these moments. It now is helping me to cope with the fact that he is no longer here.  I think that the worst times in your life can also teach you the most about how to live life and we should be grateful for that.  Thank you for your post. 

  • TheDameLane

    Staying present has been a life saver over the past year. I wish you many happy moments with your pup.

  • Charlie

    Thank you for this beautiful essay. Everything is a learning experience and an opportunity. Bella is here to help you learn, love and grow. Peace and comfort to you and sweet Bella!

  • Chefrredus

    Your words give me clarity to choose the here and now(for it is a choice) rather than chasing the past or running from the future.  Thank you.

  • Rosemary

    My beloved dog Magnus, died a year ago after 2 years of illness. The hardest part with a pet, is not being able to talk to them, so your imagination runs riot every time they appear to have deteriorated. The part about the nails needing clipping was such a good example. Too often we fear the worst and spoil the present.  Enjoy Bella’s last days and be grateful for all that she brings to your life.

  • Sugarpencil

    So true. I’ve met a guy knowing in 3 months we will both be in different places geographically. And from what I’d learnt from overworry when my dad had cancer I’m just trying to enjoy the time we have and figure out the rest as it comes. We are happy to spend time with each other and it is wonderful.

  • Desiraehalyk

    Loved the post! And would love a chance at winning a new workbook on maintaining and living in the now!


  • Jennifer

    I’ve been out of touch with my mindfulness practice. Just this morning I woke up and meditated and then I saw the email with this post.  It seems it was meant to be.
    Thank you.

  • Irlondon

    Sending my deepest wishes to you and Bella for as much “in-the-present” joy as possible while you navigate this very difficult path.  I just went through something similar with my beloved cat Thea who was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer at age 10.  Through the excruciating months of treatment to try and extend her life, I struggled to stay in the moment and to enjoy her as much as I could.

    Please know that though the struggle to remain in the present may be imperfect, your good memories and experiences with Bella will prevail, and will stay with you forever.

    (Note to cat-lovers: female cats who are not spayed by about 6 months of age run much higher risks of mammary gland cancer later in life.  We adopted Thea at 2 1/2, shortly after she was rescued and spayed, not knowing the dangers.  We are grateful for the chance to love her and be loved by her.)

  • Alex

    Gina,  I  experienced similar circumstances to yours. You and I know we have mountains to climb. Like maybe Mount Everest.  My friend directed me to this site. I struggle. I need to be mindful of the tips presented here. I am told to practice gratefulness also.

  • Elisa B.

    Thank you for this post and thank you for this giveaway opportunity!  I am a daily reader of Little Buddha and find the posts very helpful and inspiring.  After a difficult year, I am in a place right now where I need to get myself grounded and in the present.  I constantly have to remind myself to breathe and be in the moment, as opposed to caught up in my whirlwind of overwhelming (mostly negative) thoughts.  I have also signed on to be a follower of Dani’s blog.

  • Georgeday

    Thoughtful reminders of how to appreciate every day – even if your dog is dying, as mine is also.

  • Agentzeero

    Its so weird that I came across this comment because I’m going through similar and I hardly ever read the comments. How do you cope with what happened and decide to stay with it?

  • One thing that I have found very useful is that instead of thinking – ‘what all can go wrong’, I try to think – “What all can go right”. That certainly helps in avoiding meaningless worries about the future.

  • Beth

    Your words made me feel so much better. Thank you.

  • Erks410

    Very interesting and touching. I went to a meditation class today to teach me how to remain in the present and focus on what is happening NOW. My prayers are with Dani and her beloved dog.

  • Andrew M

    This is an excellent contribution, Lori. Thank you. I agree with you that it is in times of upheaval, stress and pain that maintaing our grip upon the present is most difficult. The mind is forever seeking to find a way to drag us into the past or future, for it does not exist in the present as anything but a tool. This is why we feel it’s endeavors most intensely during these times- such times are opportunities for it.

  • Andrew M

    I believe this is why being present in these times is particularly important. These moments are challenges for us;challenges that give us the opportunity to grow and dissasociate ourselves from our egoistic mind. If we can rise to this challenge, the decisions we make in these challenging times are infinitely wiser, calmer and fitting.

  • smartipants8

    Thanks for posting about sweet Bella. I recently went through something similar with my cat Simon and it was as stressful, if not more, than when my beloved father was ill. My cat couldn’t inform me about how he felt or participate in decision-making so I felt completely vulnerable and guilty that I hadn’t noticed it sooner and that I was responsible for his life. 
    Breathing deeply is so important when I start to panic. It gives me the time and space not to just react but it also reminds me to focus on my crazed emotions. I’ve been reading Mindsight which links this to the actual physical things that are happening in my body when I get bad news or something I fear is happening and it has been a relief to know that there are things I can do to let the emotions pass by and deal with them better.

  • Cheergirl

    The best way to cope it to live in the now. It is truly the best advice anyone could give you. Forgiving someone can be incredibly difficult, especially when you feel so betrayed.
    As for how you “decide to stay with it”… Out of personal experience you need to step back and assess the full picture. Does the guilty party truly feel They have made a terrible mistake? Have they come clean, or did they hide it? I could be very wrong, but for me, this tells you whether it’s a one time thing. If you truly love one another, you will both learn from the mistake and forgive. I hope that helps you.

  • Amanda G

    I have a habit of always thinking of the worst case scenarios and almost always spend so much time worrying that I miss the happy stuff. I think I’m an unhappy person because I allow myself to be. I’m really trying to focus on the now because when I do I’m really happy. As I’m writing this I’m sat holding the hand of my three year old son and that’s the stuff that REALLY matter. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Shannon – Thank you for your kind words about Bella. I really appreciate it! I hope this post inspires you to spend as much time as you can with your pups. The healthy years with them are the best! 

  • Fiona – I’m so sorry to hear about your loss, but it sounds like you have gain some wonderful insights from that experience. Thank you for sharing them with me. And thank you for your kind wishes for me and Bella!

  • Alexis – Thank you so much! Staying positively present is my goal — even when it’s hard!

  • You’re welcome! I love that phrase and I’ll definitely be using it more often. I really do believe that life will never give us more than we can handle and everything happens for a reason (no matter how painful and unfair it seems at the time!). Thank you for your kind wishes for me and Bella! 

  • So glad this post came to you when you needed it! I hope it helps you to focus on the positive and to stay present. 

  • Marjorie – Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Reading comments like this help me realize I’m not alone in this and give me strength to keep focusing on the positive and the present. And you’re so right about how dogs see things. While she’s eating and playing and still enjoying life, I have to remember that she doesn’t know she’s sick. Thanks also for the great reminder about how lucky I am to be experiencing all her stages of life. Such a great point! 

  • You’re welcome! I hope these tips help you with the organizational changes. I know how difficult those can be…

  • Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers. I’m so happy you found this to be helpful, especially when it comes to your cat and his aging. I hope you enjoy all the moments you have with him! 

  • Thanks for the hugs! 🙂 I’m so sorry to hear about your difficult situation. I really believe that things always work out the way they should — hard is that is to believe sometimes — so stay positive! 

  • Thank you for the hugs! I’m glad this story helped you. 

  • Mary – Being present can be really difficult, especially when dealing with situations that you know have an unpleasant end. I hope these tips help you. So far they’ve been working for me! 

  • Rose Ann – Thank you for sharing that experience! It definitely gave me some hope that Bella, who is doing well on her medicine, will live longer than I’d initially expected. 

  • Awesome! So glad you found this!! 

  • You’re welcome! I’m so glad to hear this is what you needed. 

  • Ashley – I’m so sorry to hear about Roscoe. The loss of a dog (especially one battling a disease) is so incredibly difficult. As you said, difficult situations can show us the true colors of people around us and I’m so thankful to have supportive parents and a supportive boyfriend who all want the best for Bella. Thanks for reminding me to be appreciative of the people I have around me. That’s so important. Thanks for the hugs! 🙂 

  • Thank you so much. I’m doing what I can to enjoy every single day (even the hard ones) and I know I will look back on this time and be thankful that I embraced the moments with her. I’ll definitely give her a hug! She loves those! 

  • I can’t even imagine have four kids and trying to stay present! I’m sure that’s quite a battle. I hope this post was able to help you with the tips. 

  • You’re welcome. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been sick, but I do hope these tips will help you to be present and enjoy even the difficult moments. Looking back never does any good so it’s best to focus on the now! 

  • You’re welcome! Being present is one of the things I struggle with most as well — which is why I created Positively Present — and it takes a lot of effort for me to live in the now. However, the more I practice it, the better I get. Hopefully these tips will help you be more present! 

  • Thank you so much for your understanding and your happy wishes. They mean so much to me! 🙂

  • Gina – I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through such a tough situation. I can’t even imagine! I hope these tips help you to stay present and enjoy the time you have with your boys. Focusing on the present will really help you (and the boys as well!). 

  • Dealing with situations over which we have no control is so difficult, but I’m learning to cope with what I cannot change. Life IS short and I’m doing what I can to make the most of it. I’m so happy to hear that you appreciated this post and I hope the tips help you! 

  • You’re welcome! I’m so happy this story will stay with you — reading that makes me feel like a lot of struggle I’m going through has a purpose and a greater meaning. Socrates is SUCH a cute name! Love it!! And Plato! So cute! 

  • Jonathan – It’s definitely super hard to stay present (no matter how much we know we should!), but every ounce of effort put into staying in the moment is worth it. Hope the tips are helpful! 

  • I’m sorry to hear about your difficult situation (and I wish you all the best getting through it!) and I hope these tips will help you to stay present. Even with things are hard, staying in the moment is worth it. 

  • Beautiful way of putting it! Lovely words! Thank you!!

  • Attitude really is everything. If we focus on the positive and stay in the present, we can cope with any situation. Thank you so much for wishing us many more days together! 

  • I’m so sorry to hear about Athena. I too have spent so much time worrying about what life will be like without Bella and I’ve finally realized that I have to focus on what time I still have with her. I’m so glad this articule spoke to you. Thank you for reading! 

  • Living in the now is a hard concept to put into practice, but I’m really getting better at it with the help of my little Bella. I wish you lots of time staying present with your kids and Murphy! 

  • So glad this with helpful! Stressing about change is difficult because you have to think about the future while also trying to stay present. I hope these tips help you! 

  • I hope you win too! If not, you can pick up a copy at Positively Present (the PDF is only $8 … about as much as gas is these days, ha!). 

  • You’re welcome!! I hope these tips help you to stay present! 

  • Grad school is tough (I’ve been there!). Staying present is a great way to combat the stressfulness of school. And enjoy it while you’re there. I’d love to be back in school again! 🙂 So far today has been a good one with her and I’m hoping for many, many more! 

  • I really hope this helps you and your daughter live in the present. Battling anxiety is incredibly difficult and makes staying present hard. Hopefully these tips will provide some help for you both! 

  • Jennifer – Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. It’s been such a difficult experience, but sharing it with others helps to make it easier. Thank you so much for your kind wishes for me and Bella! 

  • I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your dad. It’s so hard to deal with loss, especially when the time before the loss is focused on illness. I’m glad you were able to enjoy some time being truly present with him. 

  • Thank you!! 

  • You’re welcome! I agree — Bella is hear to help me, even when times seem difficult. Thank you for the wishes of peace and comfort! 

  • You’re welcome! I’m so glad these words provided clarity for you. 

  • I’m so sorry to hear about Magnus. Losing a dog is incredibly difficult and dealing with illness is just as bad because, as you said, we cannot communicate with them in the same way we can with people. I’m doing what I can to be grateful and enjoy Bella’s last days. Making the most of the moment is what counts! 

  • Long distance is difficult and knowing it’s coming makes it hard to be present and enjoy the moment. It’s great that you’ve had experience in learning how to enjoy the time you have and I hope you both make the most of it! 

  • Thank you! Glad you loved it! 

  • It does seem like it was meant to be! I’m glad the timing of this was right and I hope it serves as reminder to stay present. 

  • Thank you so much for your wishes for me and Bella. And thank you for the reminder that even though I’m not always able to stay present, my memories and good times with Bella will always be with me. 

  • So glad you found this site, Alex and I hope these words help you to be more present. 

  • Thanks for following Positively Present! 🙂 I hope that this post — and the ones on Positively Present — will help you to live in the moment.  

  • I’m sorry to hear about your dog. Dealing with a dying dog is so, so hard, but I hope these tips will help you to cope with the difficult experience. My thoughts go out to you and your pup! 

  • Great point! I’ve been thinking a lot about what can go wrong and I need to focus more on what could go right. Thanks for that reminder! 

  • You’re welcome! I’m so glad these words helped you. 

  • Thank you so much for your prayers. I hope the meditation (along with these tips) helps you to live as much in the now as you can. 

  • Andrew, I agree. Being present in difficult times is particularly important because these are the situations in which we grow and are challenged. 

  • You’re welcome! I’m sorry to hear about what you had to go through with Simon. Dealing with a sick animal is so hard because they can’t tell us how they feel. Mindsight sounds interesting — I’ll have to check it out! 

  • Amanda, I used to be like that too — always thinking about the worst case scenario and thinking I was just being prepared. Since I started Positively Present, I’ve learned to embrace the moment and focus on the positive. It’s helped me SO much in every area of my life. I hope you enjoy every moment with your son! 

  • I understand much of the challenges you’re facing now as I had a Siamese cat for 16 years that had developed renal disease in the last 3 years of his life and had the same anxious thoughts and projections as you are now. Thru change of my cat’s diet I was amazed and thankful that I had more time with him than I had originally imagined. Oddly enough,it wasn’t the  kidney disease but another malady that I had not seen coming that brought his time on this earth walk to a close. While I will always miss him, I’m also relieved that he is no longer in discomfort and I know I will see him again once my earth walk is finished. Do your best to be in the present moment and make the time with your dog high quality. One lesson I learned from this is to make every present moment with your pets high quality time-as I now do with the two cats I have presently.

  • Rachel A

    What a great article, can be applied to many circumstances but for me, having an anxiety disorder, it’s perfect advice. Thank you. Xx

  • Dtlmsw

    Hello Dani – My deepest sympathy to you as you try to deal with the health issues of your doggie.  Our doggies are so precious to us and please remember….every day is a lifetime in miniature.  Think of each and every day with doggie like that and enjoy!  Eight years with this little doggie is such a blessing and I trust that you will find the joy and happiness in that.  Best wishes to you and take good care!  Sincerely, Debra

  • Debbie

    Hi Gina,
    I think from time to time we all find ourselves buried in a situation that seems hopeless.  Remember to take care of yourself first, then your family.  All the rest always has a way of taking care of itself!

    All the best,

  • D3s3rtpunk

    I love following you on twitter. I usually repost for the Occupy people who follow me. Glad to hear about the book! Good luck!

  • Dani – Thank you for your beautiful post and insights. I really needed to read this NOW. And you wrote something I could certainly relate to, as my pets are one of the most precious elements in my life. Best to you and Bella.

  • Mary Pool

    Thank you, wonderful tips. My mom was just diagnosed with breast cancer, very sudden & fortunately caught early. Her surgery is this week & I’d been doing a couple of these steps already. Great to learn more & appreciate the honesty and clarity.

  • Harmonizing712

    Hi Gina,

    You are a sweetheart to be so strong and present with Bella. Dogs feed and react off your energy and I’m sure your positive direction of thoughts will help her enjoy her days as well.


  • Sandy

    Hi. I completely understand your feelings and the difficulty of staying in NOW when a beloved pet is ill. Staying focused on the joy you can have right now is hard but worth it. I have a 12-year-old mixed breed who had either strokes or pinched nerves about a year ago (not sure and not willing to do more poking on her) and who is doing fairly well with medication. We just have to be extra careful when she does stairs or gets in the car for groomer trips. And I have a 6-year-old cocker that I rescued over a year ago and who came with ugly ear infections. We cured at least two “bugs” and came down to resistant pseudomonas which required expensive antibiotics and a week-long vet stay for IV administration. I’m writing all this to say that it also helps me to ocus on what I can do today to keep them comfortable. They both willingly take pills because I give them the pills wrapped inside greek yogurt or kefir cheese inside of bologna quarters. They start bugging me twice a day if they think I’m forgetting “what time it is”. And the cocker lets me clean his ears because they both then get dog cookies. You might also want to encourage your vet to give your dog several treats before and then at the end of the visit. The cocker has had at least weekly appointments — most with shots, digging in his ears, or both — for a year, and yet he loves to get in the car because he loves the vet’s office and the treats. Their comfort, no matter how temporary, helps me focus on enjoying them now. Hope you both do well.

  • Debbie

       So very sorry for what you are going through. My prayers are with you. They become so much more than ‘just a pet’. I was where you are 2 yrs ago with my sons childhood dog, Ecko. I found a tumor on his eye, simply because he sat and stared at me. The Dr confirmed my worst fears. I spent the month trying to make him as comfortable as possible. When we found out, I told him to ‘let me know when it’s time’, and he did. It was difficult because he was such a good dog. Reading your article today, brought me back, but more importantly made me think we should apply this everyday of our lives to our loved ones. Each time I read “Bella” my thoughts went to my own Mother who is 81 and has had mental changes due to lack of oxygen. She was a smoker, diagnosed with Severe COPD, she has been on oxygen 24/7 for several years. It is not always easy living in the NOW, as we all struggle with something, but choosing happiness over worry, fills me with a calmness I have never known. I feel stronger for it. Reading articles such as yours, strengthens me. Thank You for sharing.

  • Pam

    Hey Dani, I’m so sorry to hear of your impending loss. By coincidence, my Mum’s dog is also called Bella and we learned a month or so ago that what we thought was a cyst on her chest was in actual fact a mast 3 stem tumour and she has been given a prognosis of no more than 2 months. We were all devastated by the news but thought the most important thing is to treat her as we normally do and enjoy every minute we have with her for as long as she’s here. We took her camping with us a couple of weeks ago and it was hard not to keep thinking about all the “lasts” that we were experiencing. It was lovely to be away with her though and she was still up for her favourite game of chase the frisbee, which was great fun! You are right to say that you should live for the here and now because by worrying about the “what ifs” that are on the horizon we are missing out on so much else.

    Praying for you and your family when the sad time comes. Best wishes.

  • Nicky

    Great read.. needed this to confirm to me that all this worrying and reacting is not doing myself any good.   I have kids to raise and need to be honest to them and set a good example at the same time that showing feelings is ok but to not allow these feelings i have to take up my day and accept lifes up and downs as a growth and learning kerb… thanks for the info.

  • Hi Dani,

    Sorry to hear about Bella.

    Big life changes can be hard, and sometimes it can feel impossible to escape the grip of despair. But even having moments where we can break it and trust that things will work out for the best can stop us spiralling.

    Thanks for the post.

  • Maddym1000

    Dogs teach us so much about present-living.

  • Laura

    Morning Dani, Loved your post, am going to check out your blog. So sorry about Bella, dogs are such special teachers – Bella is sharing something so special with you. 

    I’ve also been dealing with trying to be in the present, it is so difficult when your mind is racing to worst case scenerios in the future. I had to write myself a letter reminding me to be mindful of the moment I am in.

    Lori, please enter me in the drawing for the book! Thank you, Laura.

  • Cathe

    Dani,  I really enjoyed your writing. I would love to win a copy of your book.

  • Wow, Gina, you are incredibly strong.  Good thoughts to you & your boys. <3

  • Andrea

    thanks for sharing; my beloved kitty was diagnosed w/same.  I would suggest research and google prescription you’ve been recommended for Bella, and find a holistic vet who can recommend dietary changes you can implement…these efforts could prolong her life.

  • Brent Oh

    Good Post.

  • Catherine

    Staying positive for you and your best friend.  2 weeks ago I had to make the heartbreaking decision to say goodbye to my mastiff x, Smudge, who was only a year old.  She injured one of her legs and it required massive surgery and a life with discomfort and arthritis eventually, as well as the chance of the same injury to her other back leg.  Smudge was my shadow, my best friend and the unconditional love she gave me has gotten me through the worst year of my life.  I got married in July last year to the love of my life and best friend of 9 years and by March he had ended it abruptly and unfortunately with a temper that I didn’t know existed.  He cut off all contact and I have only had Smudge to comfort me while I moved into my parents at 28 years old, I lost my job and was truly heartbroken.  I have had no closure but have learnt so much about myself and what I have had to accept and come to terms with.  I haven’t understood so much but faced myself in the mirror and looked inside for answers.  Smudge was by my side, making me laugh, get up in the morning, and now she’s gone.  I had to make that decision, to say goodbye to another best friend, but at least I got my goodbye.  This is a nice saying from a dog’s perspective that I found:  When the short time I have
    has come to an end,

    I know you’ll be there, for you are my friend.

    You will not let me suffer, for your love is so true,

    And you’ll know in your heart, it’s the right thing to do.

    So please don’t feel guilty, when you must let me go,

    I never will blame you, for loving me so.

    All my thoughts to you and stay strong xx

  • Christinetan

    Its sound easy to “living in the now”. I do not know since when its started that my mind is full with negative thoughts. Everything that I think is all negative.Nothing is positive in my mind.I tried so hard to turns my thinking to positive thinking but at the end of the day I surely failed to do so.I hate myself being so negative.   

  • kavin paker

    I feel a great deal better after reading this. Iwill try to stay in the moment more often. Great job. Thanks.
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