Have you noticed how often we use up the present moments of our lives, the very precious currency of life, consumed with a longing to be someplace else, doing something else? Or we waste present moments feeling guilty about the past or apprehensive about the future. Slipping away from the present happens because we are living our lives with an attitude of depreciation rather than appreciation. We can ease this dilemma by learning to pay attention to what’s going on in the inner world of our thoughts.
A great hallmark of mental wellness is the ability to be in the present moment, fully and with no thoughts of being elsewhere. Henry David Thoreau said: “He is blessed over all mortals who loses no moment of the passing life in remembering the past.” I would add, “In anticipating the future as well.” There definitely is a past, but not now. And there definitely is a future, but not now.
Our present moment is a mystery that we are part of. Here and now is where all the wonder of life lies hidden. And make no mistake about it, to strive to live completely in the present is to strive for what already is the case. You can either make use of these precious moments in a state of appreciation, which is to be here fully now, or in a state of depreciation, which is to wish to be anywhere but here. When all is said and done, now is all there is, and all there ever has been.
Here are some suggestions for enjoying your present moments:
- Notice when you are wishing you were somewhere else and bring yourself back to a state of appreciation for where you are. Remember that not being fully immersed in the present is nothing more than a habit that you have the option of breaking right now, in this moment!
- Discard thoughts of depreciation. When you find yourself depreciating anyone or anything in your immediate present moment space, see if you can substitute a thought of appreciation. For example, rather than being bored by a conversation, shift your thoughts to, “I am going to spend the next few moments just loving this person for who he is, and nothing more.” This removal of judgment brings you back to being fully in the present.
- Take time to meditate. Meditation is difficult for many people because their thoughts are always on some distant object or place. One form of meditation is to label the thought as it appears and then choose to let it go. This practice helps you first become aware of your thoughts, which many of us need to do, so that we can return to the present moment.
- Practice enjoying each phase of your meal (and your day!) for itself, rather than having your thoughts on dessert while you are consuming the appetizer. The essence of the entire message here is to be here now. Is there really any other place to be?