Life is about the journey not the destination. We may have heard the expression many times, but how often do we live it? As adults we have so many responsibilities that have been layered on top of each other that each task is treated as a mission. We just want to get the job done so we can move onto the next task. We generally don’t take the time to stop and enjoy the moment. We rush through life missing out on the little things or being too worried about the future to enjoy the present. I challenge you to stop - enjoy the now and all that life’s journey presents.
Photo Credit: Carl Winterbourne
I was recently reminded of this as I was on a bike ride with my husband. As I got to the top of a long stretch of uphill, I felt relieved that the hard part was over. I was hoping for some straight sections with minimal ups and downs, but after a few moments, we were on a long descent. This is usually so much fun…. But instead of enjoying the now, I was consumed by how all the downhill meant uphill on our ride back. At that moment, I caught myself filling my brain with negative thoughts and ruining my ride, I immediately shifted my focus to enjoying hanging out with my hubby, the beauty of the ride and on getting thinner thighs (no pain, no gain - right!) We had a great time - ups and downs combined. It seemed like such a great life analogy, Because in life we have ups and downs. On the downhill part we can coast and have the most fun. The uphill sections make us stronger, we fight through things, adjust our thinking and it transforms us. Regardless of whether you are in an up or down cycle, you have to be able to stop and enjoy the moment or the season you are in.
Have you ever gone through a period of your life in haste and looked back wishing you could go back to those times. In hindsight, we often realize how good a situation was. As we are living it, we are consumed by the challenges and not the blessings.
If you are a parent, with young children - you know know how inquisitive and full of energy kids can be. As adults, with our mounds of tasks to get done, work, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, we are weighted by the to do list and don’t always stop and relish their energy and enjoy the phase they are in, and in a blink of an eye, they are onto the next phase. Years later you look back and think on how adorable they were during that time.
The key is to stop and be mindful of the beauty at that moment so you don’t have to look back to have that perspective, you can have it now.
Jamie Cullum had a great song: “When I look back on my ordinary, ordinary life, I see so much magic though I missed it at the time”
How many times have you heard yourself say: Hurry up… There is no time...I will do it another time… Maybe one day… But the reality is there is no time like now. There may not be another moment like this one. The time it takes to stop and be mindful of the good in your situation takes a few moments and can have so many positive effects. It can change your whole attitude and mood from bad to good, because you are focusing on the beauty vs the negative of your situation and you will be more grateful. Even in the worst of times, you can find beauty in your life.
There is a great quote by Lao Tzu that resonates well with finding the beauty in the now and living in the present:
If you are depressed, you are living in the Past.
If you are anxious, you are living in the future.
If you are at peace, you are living in the moment.
The question is how do you stop and enjoy the now? It takes discipline and a commitment to self-awareness and change. Oftentimes our drive to the destination and the thought process involved is internal and no one would know to help coach us.
So Step 1 is a keen self-awareness and the ability to either vocalize your feelings to someone who can help you change your state of mind or to monitor your self-talk. Being aware takes practice and commitment. You can write a journal and start your day by writing down your commitment to being positive and enjoying the now. Jot down your plans for the day. What will you do to be more present? What negative thoughts will you avoid? You can remind yourself at various planned points throughout the day. Strategically place post it notes with a little quote or even just a smiley face. Whatever you can do to make yourself more self-aware.
Step 2 is to not just be aware but to change what you are doing instantly. In the example of the bike ride, I had to be aware of the negative talk and then force myself to look around, see the beauty and realize that more uphill was good exercise, meant downhill later, and to just enjoy the moment. This is all about mind shift, finding the gratitude, and beauty in the moment and make that more compelling than the negativity your thoughts want to take you.
Ultimately when you look back on life you want to know you have experienced all the wonderful moments and took the time to enjoy the now!
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