It’s easy to do. Wake up to an alarm. Roll out of bed. Take a hot shower. Get dressed. Make coffee. Grab your bag and lunch. Get in the car. Go to work. Eat lunch. Work some more. Get in the car again. Swing past the supermarket. Get home. Cook dinner. Eat dinner. Scroll mindlessly. Watch TV. Fall into bed. Sleep. Then do it all again. The days go by and we’re forever looking for that next holiday or that celebration or seeing our partner. Or maybe we’re looking for that promotion or pay rise or waiting for our life situation to change. But what about right now? The present moment. How often do you slow down and try to enjoy what’s happening in this very moment?
The present moment is where it all happens. It is where true happiness lies and where contentment dwells. But for some reason most of us spend our whole lives not really in it. We spend our lives regretting past actions or events, or projecting our dreams and fears onto the future. The reality is that the only time we can really enjoy is right now. The only time we can be sure what’s happening is this very moment. Now is the only time we can truly live and the only time we can’t reminisce about nor place expectations upon. It sounds bizarre if you haven’t considered it before. It’s not an easy concept to grasp.
Let’s face it. Mindfulness has become one of the buzzwords of this decade and you can’t turn around without finding another book or app about meditation or a proponent of this way of life. Only a few years ago I might have been completely sceptical of this kind of thing. And I think it’s good to be sceptical… to a point. I’ve had a number of people enter my life in the last few years who have turned my thinking on its head. These people haven’t told me how to live my life. In fact far from it. But they have lived their lives in example to others. Over time I have picked out things that these people have done that might work for me. And gradually these things have begun to make a difference to my day.
So what does all this mean? I look back at what I have written above and wonder if people will be able to make sense of it. Well, I think it’s simple to sum up, even if not so easy to achieve. Essentially, instead of worrying about what has come before or what’s to come, live your life now. Because now IS your life. Don’t wait around for those big things to happen, take joy from the little things. If I say to myself, “I’ll be happy when I’m finally sitting on that beach in Bali,” then I’m pinning my hopes of happiness on one particular thing happening. What happens if it rains? Or if something prevents you from even leaving to get to that beach? Are you willing to be unhappy until the next opportunity to hit the beach in sunshine? Putting all of our happiness eggs into one basket, especially a temporary one, is setting us up for disappointment. While it doesn’t always work – everyone has a bad day from time to time – focusing my energy on what is happening now has changed my life. Yes. It has improved everything, from my relationships to my physical health. But perhaps the biggest thing it has done is allow me to consolidate my self worth. I truly believe in myself.
I’m quite sure that you’re wondering by now what the things are that I have picked up from others to bring into my life and recognise the importance of living now. To be honest, I’m wondering that a bit myself! I may not be able to pinpoint the moments or the things that I’ve seen and heard and read… but I can see how I have changed to be able to be right in my life each day. I spend far less time engaging in mindless activities than I once did. While I recognise that I may have gained some enjoyment from these activities in the past, I see now that they were mostly just filling up time until something else happened. So I stopped playing games on my phone. The TV doesn’t go on as much as it once did. So much of what builds happiness is found within a sense of achievement – and TV and games are unlikely to provide that. I also try to enjoy activities that I once saw as chores. Anyone who really knows me will know that I absolutely hate doing the dishes. But a switch in attitude has turned that around. I take pleasure in doing the dishes and enjoying a tidy kitchen. I fold all my washing and put it away. I make my bed every morning. These things take very little time, but they do promote that sense of achievement, even just a bit!
There are still things in my life situation that I would like to change. I want my finances to look better. I want to be able to take more tropical holidays. I want more stability in my relationships. But you know what? They’re my life situation. Not my life. My life is the little things that make up each day. Enjoying my morning coffee. Taking joy from simple interactions with friends. Looking around my little unit and being happy with what I have. Smiling while I watch my son grow. This is a choice. Accepting my life situation. Changing what can be changed. Living and loving every single moment. Because those moments are my life.