Why is it that we seem to always want what we don’t have? What makes the grass greener on the other side of the fence? It seems to be embedded in our nature to covet that which we don’t have, even when we are happy with what we have. Advertising plays on this sympathy by showing us new products, shinier products, faster products; and people just like me have them! I didn’t even know the product existed let alone that I needed it!
This “Sally Forth” comic strip is a prime example of the need, and yes, importance, of staying in the present moment. If I can focus my mind on the present, I gain an appreciation for that which I have, compensating for, or not even recognizing, my lack of something. My birthday happens to be shared with Christmas Day, eliciting the usual question from people: “I’m sorry! How do you feel not have your own day?” My honest answer: “I feel fine. I don’t know any different.” I don’t feel that I lose out on a birthday since I never had my own day. Can I miss something I never had? No. Granted, looking to the past we can have regrets of things not done, but that’s not the same as missing something that never was.
Living in the past, and stressing over the unknown of the future, complicates our minds and emotions. We are either regretful, or mournful, or wishing for a time that once was. While in the future we tend to be stressed and anxious over the unknown. But, living in the present is not necessarily complicated. The present moment simply “is”.
Sure, the “is” itself may be complicated, but staying in the moment does not add complication onto complication. Staying in the moment allows us to understand what is happening in our life. When I live outside of the present, I miss what is now happening. Living in the moment allows me to stay with what is happening, learning about it, looking at its components, understanding the why’s and the what’s.
Living in the moment does not happen all at once. Learning to live in the moment takes practice and patience. How do we begin to learn to live in the moment? Here is what has helped me:
- Make a conscious effort to want to learn to live in the present moment.
- Set aside a specific time each day to meditate for at least 10 minutes. If you simply say you will meditate each day without a set time, odds are your day will become too busy to fit in meditation time.
- Understand the signs of when you feel stressed. When you feel stressed odds are you are not living in the present. So if you feel stressed, stop for a moment and consciously re-focus your mind onto the present. The more often you do this eventually you will automatically shift your focus to the present.
… continue the conversation …