It seems as if we are always in a rush. We are in a rush to get out of the door in the mornings. We are in a rush to get our children to school and to their extra-curricular activities. We are in a rush to get to work and then we are in a rush to get back home. And when we are not rushing from here to there, we have our faces in our cell phones either on social media or texting away. I am guilty of this and many of you probably are also.
It has only been very recently that I have come to the realization that my thoughts are often on my past or future but not often on the present moment. There is a lot of joy to be had and lessons to be learned in the present moment. Here are a few ways to stay in the moment and enjoy the journey of life.
Making Peace with Your Past
It is hard to live in the present moment when you are constantly looking behind you. Past hurts, regrets, what ifs, and bad choices can rob you of the joy of living in the moment. It is critical that you make peace with your past so that you can move forward. What does make peace with your past look like? It looks different for different people. For me, it is realizing that I should not feel bad for not pursuing my dreams earlier when the reality is that, when I was younger, I was living in survival mode. I would count it victory just to wake up every morning and provide for my children. For someone else, making peace may mean letting go of grudges that may be holding them back or refraining from replaying painful moments over in their mind. These things keep you with one foot in the past, unable to completely move forward with what is going on today. Your past experiences, whether good or bad, helped shape you into the person you are today. You cannot always erase memories, but you can make the conscious decision to not allow past experiences to hold you hostage. Some experiences or memories may be so painful that you may need the help of a therapist to assist you in moving past them. Do whatever needs to be done to move forward so that you can enjoy the journey of life.
Know your Destination but Enjoy the Process
It is always important to know what your goal is so that you will know when you have reached it. Sounds obvious, right? But how often do we stay so focused on our goal that we don’t appreciate the lessons of small things that could have may reaching our goal even sweeter? What if your dream was starting a family business? The celebration may come after the dream is a reality, when all the blood, sweat, and tears have paid off. But in the process of reaching your goal, did you enjoy those moments with your family that could have brought you closer together? Did you slow down and cherish the moments of talking about the dream of the business over a family meal?
As my daughter is starting to research and narrow down her college choices, the goal is to choose the college that is the best fit for her. I am having to constantly remind myself not to rush through the process. I want to enjoy every moment. When we are going through college brochures we are laughing and talking. When we are looking at the different amenities the colleges offer, I’m telling her stories from my college days in the late 90’s. Some stories have her laughing, while some have her rolling her eyes But the bottom line is that we are enjoying the process. And the small moments will continue as we start our college tours this spring. Remember to slow down and enjoy the process as you work towards your goals.
Discover What You Can Offer Others
Everybody has a story to tell. Most people’s story can serve as a lesson to others. I have learned many lessons in my lifetime that can help people, but the lesson was always realized in hindsight. Taking your time through life will allow you to recognize the lessons, good or bad, in what you are going through. Life is a series of lessons for yourself as well as lessons that you can share with others. I can think of a couple of instances where I was able to share my experience with someone else and prevent them from experiencing hardships that I have endured. Now when I am going through a tough time, I try to find the lesson as I figure my way out of whatever the issue is. Sometimes the lesson is to take care of my health before I end up in the hospital. Other times, the lesson is not everyone or every issue is worthy of my time and energy. Being able to get the lesson in real time can put you in a better position to cope in the present and help others benefit from the lesson and avoid the hardships.
In our fast-paced society, slowing down is a challenge. I must consciously tell myself to slow down because I tend to do everything fast. I talk fast. I eat fast. I drive fast. You get the picture. There are moments when I wish I had slowed down and really relished the moment. And then there are times when I wish I had slowed down long enough to get the lesson in the moment instead of realizing the lesson later. I am getting better at this, but I am by no means there yet. It takes time and conscious effort but learning to enjoy the journey of life is a practice we should all strive for.
Do you feel like you are enjoying the journey of life? If so, share some things that you do to ensure that you are living in the moment.