I'm a great believer in living in the here and now, being present, being in the moment. It’s easier said than done, which is why so many of us live in the future. But the future is nothing more or less than billions and billions of "nows." So, there’s now, and now, and now, and now, and now and now. There’s no future, just "now".
Life is a very long journey. It is sometimes pleasant, sometimes challenging. But however it unfolds, life is still just a succession of moments, of nows. One moment might be joyful, another sad, another frustrating, another benign, another terrifying. But most of our nows are plain and ordinary. No highs, no lows. Just consistently ordinary.
But ordinary or not, every moment brings with it a choice. Do you choose to love the moment you’re in or do you choose to loathe and suffer through it? The former points to experiencing a life you love and cherish. The latter points to surviving, resisting, even hating your life. How you view the moment is a choice. No one is twisting your arm. No one is pointing a gun to your head. It’s about you and how you choose to relate to your moments.
No "right time"
In essence, this moment, this now, is all there is. If you’re one whose mantra is "I'm waiting for the right time," there’s a good chance you’re experiencing some degree of pain or suffering in some way, shape or form. That’s because now is all there is. Generally the "right time" never comes and if it does, it’s not when you expect it.
That’s not to say that dreaming is a bad thing - except when you find yourself missing so many moments, so many nows that you’re living in the future. Lots of people who dream of a better futures often lament, "where did my life go?". These are the people who have never truly lived. For them, the future never comes and when it does, they're usually caught up in some other type of pain and suffering and waiting for another future, and another and another to arrive and bring then their happiness.
Now is all there is
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
One of the keys to happiness is to appreciate and see the sacredness of each moment. That’s not the sacredness in a religious sense, but rather appreciating the specialness and joy that exists in this moment, right here and right now. There is some degree of happiness in every moment if we choose to focus on that happiness (although victims and martyrs hardly ever do), while living in the future negates the happiness available in the moment. Since life only happens now, letting go of the future (and the past) allows you to bring the happiness you are into the moment, regardless of what you're doing or what's going on around you. Being in the moment, sensing into whatever element of happiness is available right here and right now (and it is, if you look for it, or let it emerge) supports you to live this moment, and this moment, and this moment with ease, grace and joy.
Appreciating the NOW
“The more I give myself permission to live in the moment and enjoy it without feeling guilty or judgmental about any other time, the better I feel about the quality of my work.” ¬Wayne Dyer
- Are you waiting for some other time so you can be happy? How is this working for you?
- How do you experience "newness" in your life?
- How do you feel about your life in this moment?
- Do you run on a treadmill of unhappiness? If so, why?
- What are you attached to? (money, possessions, etc.)
- What’s holding you back from experiencing happiness?
- When are you most alive?
- How does fear constrict you?
- Do you spend an inordinate amount of time fantasizing?
- Do you live much of your life in the past or in the future? If so, why?
- Do you spend a lot of time catastrophizing ¬ worrying about something that hasn't happened yet?
- Can you imagine yourself living in the moment, in the NOW?
- How did you parents or primary caregivers experience "now?" In conversations, how much time did they devote to the past or future?
Appreciating the now is not all that easy. It’s about cherishing who you are, what you have, recognizing how good things are and choosing to not focus on who you aren't or what you don’t have. Appreciating the now means allowing the ordinary, finding the inner peace within just where you are, whether that’s at your desk, on the elevator, commuting, doing the dishes, watching TV - even reading this.
Appreciating the now means surrendering any discomfort, negative emotions or feelings. When you can do that, a sense of appreciation and positivity will come in to fill the void in this now, and this one and this one.
As you choose to live in the moment, focus on the ordinary - the sights, the sounds, the colors, shapes or textures, the tastes and aromas, the space in which everything exists, or the space between objects. That’s presence. That’s the state where we can become immersed in what is happening now. Rather than waiting for quantum events to happen, appreciate the ordinary. Experience the happiness of a Wednesday signalling the middle of the week, or being at home on Friday night watching a movie or a sporting event or stopping for your favorite cup of coffee.
Finally, living in the moment means focusing your mind on what is good, just and right with your life and with the world, right here and right now. Soon, you’ll be able to see life in a positive light, even in the ordinary moments, and this new way of being will become second nature.
Allowing yourself to look for and appreciate what is here now and what is happening in this moment, and this moment, and this moment you’ll begin to notice that your mind relaxes and embraces the moment with greater ease. The moment is about living your life now, not tomorrow and certainly not yesterday. As Abraham Maslow put it, “the ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.”