Happiness Habits – Day 21: Live In the Moment
You’re going along, whistling or singing a happy tune, not a care in the world, and then…”oh *^#!! Did I forget to pay that bill?! Argh! Late fees!” Or, “I’ve got that project due tomorrow – I wonder if it’s good enough? Will I finish on time?” One of the fastest way to stop any feeling of happiness in its track is to worry. We worry about things that haven’t happened yet, and we worry about things in the past that we can do nothing about. It’s sad to think about how many happy moments we are missing out on because we are too worried about the past or the future.
The Only Time is NOW
One of the solutions to living a happier and more content life is to learn to live in the moment. You don’t want to miss out on all the amazing little things life has in store for you because you are too busy worrying and agonizing about things that are outside of your control. The goal then for a happier life is to learn to live in the moment. Remember, neither the past nor the future actually exist. Only now matters.
Start by simply paying attention to what’s going on around you right now. Enjoy the people you are spending time with. Treasure the conversations and interactions you have with them. Look around you and notice the beauty in your surroundings. Each season brings new natural phenomena that can help you stay in the moment and make you happy. Notice how the light filters through the colorful leaves on a crisp fall day. Treasure the first few green sprouts at the end of winter. Laugh with your kids and play in the first snow of winter. Bask in the sun and look at how the light plays over the water on a hot summer day. Each day, each season, and each year has amazing treasures to offer if you take the time to stay in the moment and notice them.
Slow down and don’t be afraid to stop and smell the roses. If you find yourself slipping back into your old ways of worrying about things you can’t change, remind yourself to stop and instead focus on something pretty in your surroundings. It doesn’t matter what it is. The idea is to train your mind to live in the moment instead of the past or the future.
Once is Enough
Does this mean you have to stop all planning for the future? Does it mean that you shouldn’t look back on the past and learn from it? Of course not. Those are both important parts of life. There are times to plan a vacation, figure out what groceries we need for the week, or plot a move or job change in the future. Those are productive ways to look ahead. Along the same lines, there are times when we should look back on the past. Maybe we can right a wrong, improve on things, or if nothing else learn from them. That’s important as well. What isn’t important or productive is to live in the past, or dwell on future events that haven’t happened, or worrying about things we can’t change.
Whenever you catch yourself time-traveling, stop yourself and focus on the present. It won’t take you long to get out of the unhealthy habit of worrying about things outside of your control. That, in turn, gives you more time and energy to focus on what truly matters – being happy!