How to focus on the present moment and calm your fears

Six days ago, the Milwaukee Bucks won their first NBA title in 50 years. On the strength of a god-like effort from their extraordinarily talented, Greek star, Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks reached the summit of the basketball world. But this post isn’t about basketball.

It’s about what mindfulness and emotional intelligence are all about.

What this two-time MVP and now world champion has learned about the mental and emotional side of the game of basketball is most important to you and me as we journey through our own path in life. I want to share his words here — there are lessons in mindfulness and presence that we can all benefit from.

“I figured out a mindset to have. When you focus on the past, that’s your ego.

And when I focus on the future it’s my pride.

And I kind of like try to focus on the moment, in the present. And that’s humility, that’s being humble. That’s not setting no expectations. That’s going out there and enjoying the game. Competing at a high level.

And I think I’ve had people throughout my life that helped me with that but that’s a skill I’ve tried to perfect it, master it. And it’s been working so far so I’m not going to stop.” — Giannis Antetokounmpo

Don’t get lost

Sometimes we all get lost in the past — and the future, alike. The quote above from the “Greek Freak” is a wise man’s words for living in the present moment with all your mind, body and soul. They’re the words of a champion who knows the pains of bitter defeat and lost time by focusing on things like ego, pride and worry.

The more we look back (for too long) and look forward (without focusing on our present steps) the more we allow fears, insecurities and doubts to creep in. The less connected we are with right now, which is truly all that matters.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my lack of focus what’s holding me back from the very best I desire in life?
  • Is it a matter of simply focusing with all of my intent, concentration, attitude and effort in the present moment that will lead to huge growth and happiness in my life?

It’s worth thinking about. I can confidently tell you that mindfulness and renewal toward my own self-awareness have changed my life for the better. It’s allowed me to write two books, launch my own business, become a father to three boys and walk into the shoes of becoming the man I always wanted to be.

Mindfulness can help you think more strategically, more clearly and with greater equanimity in helping provide you with clarity toward your biggest goals and priorities. Start by using a free app like Insight Timer or Calm. Find what works for you.

Focusing on the present moment may just be the difference between reaching the leadership role you’ve always wanted or maybe falling short of your biggest goal. It could be the difference between a championship and defeat.

For now, take these very wise words from a champion for building out the life you want.

This article originally appeared in Medium.