The phrase “live for the moment” is something most of you probably associate with hippies or spiritualists. I will openly admit that despite having heard a lot about the benefits of becoming more present and mindful, it wasn’t something I’d regularly practised before. For the majority of my life I’ve always been someone who seems to wish my life away. I’d look ahead and decide that once I’d achieved certain goals or reached certain milestones in my life, it would be then I would start to truly live my life or be fully satisfied.
However in July last year when my dad decided to take his own life, understandably my entire world and my family’s was destroyed. In a decision that to this day I will never understand but will hopefully one day learn to accept, it made me realise how quickly someone can be there one day and not the next.
After my dad’s death, I was pushed into a time where living in the past was too unbearable and focusing on the future brought on a great deal of anxiety. Focusing on what I’d lost brought me to the harsh realisation that all memories we’d shared would be our last and focusing on the future meant thinking about a life without my dad. My inability to look backwards or forwards, forced me to focus on each day as they came and practise what I’ve referred to as ‘living in the moment’.
Although it took such a pivotal moment in my life for me to engage in this way of thinking, living in the present truly taught me how to accept moments for what they are and to enjoy the little things that happen day to day.
Here are some of the other lessons my dad’s suicide has taught me about living in the moment and perhaps some advice we could all use to help us become more present.
Take One Positive From Each Day
From the moment we wake up, one bad thought or moment can make us feel as though the whole day will follow suit. However, it’s as if this way of thinking will cause the day to go badly because we expect it to. So despite everything that could go wrong in your day, find one thing you can be grateful for.
Dream About The Future But Work On It Every Day
Its ok to find your self daydreaming about what you want in life and what you want to achieve and how happy you may be when you get there. However your goals, passions and dreams don’t work unless you do and the way you utilise your time daily is what will define your future.
Don’t Focus On Old Failures
What you didn’t achieve 10 years ago, should not define you now. In fact it has probably shaped the person and experiences you have today. If you were rejected for a job because you “weren’t experienced” enough or went through a breakdown of a serious relationship, it’s important for you to use these experiences as learning curves. However do not think that what didn’t go right for you in the past will necessarily go the same way now. Try, try and try again.
Conquer Your Addictions Now
Addictions we have developed in the past can cause us to also live in it. Junk food, smoking or alcohol addictions can cause us to live in a body, mind-set or lifestyle that perhaps we’ve wanted to part ways with for many years. Despite all of this, we still wait for the perfect moment or time to tackle our addictions and never end up starting because the perfect time doesn’t exist. There really is no better time than today to tackle them because even if you don’t, time is going to pass you by anyway.
Some days I wish I could have seen my dad’s death coming, so that I could of said more or done more. However there are few things in this life we can control and one of them is the way we deal with it. Learning to live in the present shifted my mind-set away from the anxiety of trying to control the future and the guilt of not being able to change the past, to one that instead questioned what I could to do today to make it a better one.
In all of this, the most important lesson I’ve learnt is that life is hard and it doesn’t always give us reasons to be happy but dwelling on the past and worrying about the future won’t give us one either.