I’ve rarely met anyone who didn’t want to be the best they can be. This motivation is what drives us more than any other.
The good news is advice about how to accomplish this is everywhere we look — blogs, books, magazines, speeches, seminars, and more. The bad news is there’s so much that we often don’t know where to begin.
- Is it better to be more kind to others or take better care of myself?
- Should I stop the negative self-talk or quit beating myself up?
- Meditation is great, but where? when? how? how long?
Meanwhile, little progress is made.
The Present You Need Most
It’s taken years for me to find the simplest path to being the best I can be, so please let me save you some time. Here it is ~
Focus on what’s happening in this moment.
Not doing so is the source of unhappiness, stress, anxiety, pain, and suffering. Doing one thing and thinking another is the stupidest thing we can do. Why? Because doing so withers our relationships, weakens our confidence, brings worry instead of calm. Being distracted causes us to miss millions of moments of true happiness as they pass in front of us. For example, I’ve long regretted the years I spent rushing to make good things happen, while racing right by the people beside me. Sound familiar?
You may have heard this story before, but it makes my point so well. Several years ago I took my two youngest granddaughters to paint pottery presents for their mommy. We were so excited that it didn’t matter that I had to carry 20-month old Paige to stop her reaching out for unfinished plates or that once she began she was more interested in splashing water all over the the floor. Four-year-old Ruby was in heaven, too — what a good time!
But when I took a picture of Paige and sent it to our son, telling him where we were. He fired back a one-word text: “Hmmmm.” Instantly the happiness dissolved, and I started weaving a story about being crazy, who takes a baby to paint a dish, what if she falls off the chair, he’ll never trust me with them again… and on an on. The guilt grew like weeds.
Then I woke up! I was lost in a movie of my own making. Cut! It was that simple. End of story and back to the kids and enjoying their fun.
We make up stuff, get upset about it, and then lose touch with reality.
Eckhart Tolle says it well:
Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.
How to spend more time in this moment
I realize you know that living in this moment is all-important. The trick is doing it. For years I thought it was impossible. Maybe for enlightened folks, but not me. And the truth is it’s difficult, but not nearly so much as I thought. If you follow just one rule, the rest of the lessons come naturally:
Pay attention to what I’m doing at this moment.
• When I’m driving, am I making a mountain out of a molehill by feeling sorry for myself because of my back pain ~ or enjoying the music and the journey I’m having right now?
• When I’m with a friend, am I thinking about how I’m going to respond or jumping in to interrupt ~ or listening to this person and treasuring the gift o our time together?
• When I’m putting on my makeup, am I frustrated with myself because I’m running late ~ or filled with happiness about how fortunate I am?
To wake up is challenging, but doing so is worth every bit of energy you put into it. Practice, practice, practice. And when you catch yourself weaving yet another negative scenario, just let it go, and waste no time criticizing yourself for doing it. We’re either in our head judging, evaluating, and worrying ~ or we’re living this extraordinary life. We have a choice.
The blessings of being present are beyond imagination. Letting go and forgetting my stories is bringing freedom and happiness beyond anything I thought possible. And it turns out that not one of them had a grain of truth in them (unless I insisted) and not one of them was what I wanted anyway.
I’d love you to have more of this experience, too. Start by treasuring this precious moment.
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com