It’s good fun planning and I’m definitely one of those people but it can be a dangerous hole to fall into if you get too preoccupied with it. The late, great Maya Angelou said it better than I ever could, “Be present in all things and thankful for all things”.
It sounds easy doesn’t it? But with the endless onslaught of advertising telling us our lives will be better if we buy this car, this shampoo or this toilet cleaner, we are taught from the word go to chase that elusive next thing instead of stopping and enjoying what we have.
How many times have you heard people say at funerals that they’d wished they’d visited more often and now it’s too late? Or parents saying it will be OK when their child hits 3 or 4 or 5?
I’m not saying that you should coast around life with absolutely no aim but I’ve been trying to have a bit of balance between the aims and the now.
Living in the moment
I find myself on trains a lot and not always in the mood to be stuck in a book. Sometimes it’s nice to put some tunes on and see the world go by, as you find your mind wander, think about what you are grateful for today. What is specific to this moment in your life that you are loving? It could be your job or the mix of people in your life. It’s an uplifting experience to not take for granted everything and to realise that there is a lot of brill stuff going on that you’d miss if it wasn’t there.
You can force yourself into the moment by doing things that give you no choice. Have you ever planned your career on a rollercoaster or thought about your next house whilst swimming in the sea? Buddhism teaches that life is a series of moments, the way I interpret this is it’s our responsibility to fill our lives with these moments and not spend our time falling into the marketer’s trap of striving for the next shiny object.
Take the time to enjoy something and really enjoy it. So much is taken for granted in our lives, we grab a cappuccino on the go and sip it whilst getting to our desks. What about setting off ten minutes earlier and sitting down and enjoying that cappuccino which you’ve just spent a fortune on. Isn’t that better?
It can be good to learn something brand spanking new, you will be so engrossed in what you are doing that you lose track of the past or the future and who knows, you may come out of it with a skill. I did a macaron making class and believe me, it’s hard. I came out of it with some tasty treats but sadly lightening didn’t strike twice and I’ve never been able to make them again but for that day, I was the Macaron Master and I was worry free.
Rules for the now
I’m a list person. I can’t help it. I have a spreadsheet for holiday packing. I find myself making lists of my lists. But the problem with lists is they never get completed. They get added to and decanted into a new list if it gets too messy but you never get there so you’re always living in a place where you feel a failure, you could have done more.
I’ve been reading up on bullet journaling and the principle of putting about five things down per day is a great one. Yes you can do more if you choose to but if you allow yourself to call today a success by achieving these five things this has a massive benefit on your mind-set and why wouldn’t you live in the now if it held success?
We all have cameras whether on our phones or big fancy ones. Challenge yourself to take a picture a day of what today has meant to you. If nothing else, you’ll have a belting Instagram account. It’s an interesting challenge as you will find yourself seeking out the beauty of the day and before long, that will become second nature. That’s my theory anyway, I’m not there yet.
Be careful of what you chat about. We all have a tendency to dredge up things from the past or plan for the future, particularly when we’re talking to family or friends. Try and make the conversation about what you both did that very day. Repeating past mistakes doesn’t safeguard against making them again, in my opinion, by having them at the forefront of your mind, you’re probably more likely to make them again. Let them go. Some things can’t be saved and others will come back to you if they are important enough. If you have friends who want to live in the now as well, these conversations are the perfect way to help each other change your ways of thinking.
Please don’t think I’m saying that you should accept your lot and put up with things that aren’t right. Of course, if there are things in your life that are unbearable and blatantly need to be changed (and I have some of those), then get a plan, get some objectives and realistically set them. But don’t obsess, it’s a cliché but it’s true, there are millions of people who would love to live the life you are living right now, don’t waste it. So why are you still reading this? Get out there and enjoy the now before it disappears. Well not until you’ve told me about your ways of living in the now either by the comments below or on social media.