Living In the Moment …
By Stephen L. Doherty
April 24th, 20222
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha
Children possess a superpower that is relinquished – not lost – as they become adults. It is simply the innate ability to grasp and embrace the power of now – the unbridled zeal to live in the moment. The joy of children is spectacular because it is pure and absolute. Life is new and crisp and exciting and wonderful, and exhilarating! You look in their eyes and you see sheer ecstasy as the newness of the world is continually absorbed like a sponge. Children seem immune to the dampening specter of “what will” or “what has” as they relentlessly focus on “what is!”
We live in an age of unprecedented distraction. Yet one of life’s sharpest paradoxes is that your brightest future hinges on your ability to pay attention to the present. The past is set in stone and cannot be changed. Little purpose is served in rehashing it, regretting it, or continuously marinating in it. The beauty of focusing on the moment is our ability, gradually, to reshape and reframe our history going forward. The past can’t be changed but it can certainly and gradually be recast by greater focus on the present.
The future is an unknown commodity whose dictate can be as random and unpredictable as a roulette wheel. I understand and “get” the concept of planning and preparation but again, there is no more powerful barometer of future prosperity and happiness than the actions and mindfulness we exercise today. Every second, every minute, every day we spend focused on the past or future – is a squandered opportunity for both joy and positive changes in our lives.
The number one tool in grasping and leveraging a “live in the moment” lifestyle is the adoption of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness is a quality that every human being already possesses, it’s not something you have to conjure up, you just have to learn how to access it. None of us will ever be free of the distracting and debilitating power of our random thoughts (of just about everything) but we can begin to carve out a chunk of time where we jettison these useless thoughts in favor of appreciating and living in the moment.
I have often surmised that grandchildren are merely the universe completing life’s circle. Our own children can’t quite pull it off because most parents are knee deep in all the things that prevent living in the moment. The past is a constant blur of the life decisions and experiences that sets the stage for the pursuit of all things we believe are important and worthy. The future is more about checking the boxes and getting there in once piece – hopefully, with enough life left to carve out some legacy moments absent thoughts of the past or the future.
True epiphany occurs with the realization that the past and the future – are merely the sum total of how we lived our days. Eckhart Tolle sums it up perfectly in his bestseller, The Power of Now. “Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.” Living in the moment is a habit and a skill. Indulging in worry and regret are also habits. While it’s not possible to live entirely in the moment, life is more enjoyable and meaningful when your focus is on the present.
“The meeting of two eternities, the past and the future… is precisely the present moment.” – Henry David Thoreau