Life is full of obligations. There are lots of things that we have to do for others that are burdensome, unpleasant or just not fun. That is life. The question we have to ask ourselves is this: Will I serve with a bitter heart or a joyful heart? To give you an example, my daughter […]
Most of us spend our days not being fully present. Of course, it seems like we are present. We do our routines. We get up in the morning. We cook meals. We meet our work responsibilities, etc. But often we do these activities on auto-pilot.
Throughout the day, our minds are elsewhere. In fact, our minds tend to be in one of two places. We are either living in the past, or we are worrying about the future.
But to be truly happy, we need to be fully present in this moment.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with thinking about the past, on occasion. There are certain memories that are worth not only remembering, but cherishing. My most treasured memories are those of raising my daughter. She has been the joy of my life.
But we typically don’t spend our time thinking about those good memories. Instead, we fret over the times that someone insulted us or was cruel to us. We go over those incidents in our minds and relive them, again and again.
Similarly, there is nothing wrong with thinking about the future. In many ways, our goals for the future should influence our present. We should be spending part of each day working toward those future goals.
However, we often don’t think about the future in a positive way. Instead, we worry about it. We may fret about our health, or how we will pay our bills. We may worry about our children, and whether they will have a good future. For example, now that my daughter is preparing to go to college, I worry about her being safe and happy away from home.
But fretting over the past and worrying about the future are both pointless activities. There is a great quote by Erma Bombeck that illustrates this perfectly, “Worrying is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.” She was right.
Worrying about the past is pointless. We can’t change it. It is over and done with. The best we can do is to cherish our good memories, and try to forget about the bad ones.
Worrying about the future is equally unproductive. I’ve lived long enough to know that life typically doesn’t work out according to plan. You can make great plans, but life is unpredictable. Sometimes it works out better than expected. Sometimes it doesn’t.
For instance, every person on their wedding day aspires to be in love forever and grow old with their spouse. Yet, 50% of marriages end in divorce. Even among married couples, there are a lot of unhappy marriages. So, all you can do on your wedding day is hope that your marriage will be one of the lucky few that is truly successful.
The bottom line is this: We can’t change the past, and we can’t control the future. So, fretting over either is a waste of time. However, we can control one thing – what we do in this moment. Right now, we can control what we say and do. We can control how we respond to other people. We can control how we spend this moment in time.
Below are some ways to keep your mind in the present. Consider using them in your own life to be fully in the present as you go about your day.
Do Each Task with Love: There are lots of unpleasant, mundane tasks that we have to do as responsible adults. Cooking, cleaning and laundry are a few of those tasks. Do those tasks with care! Be fully present while you do them. Do them with love for the people who you are serving.
For instance, last night I cleaned the bathrooms in our house. That isn’t my favorite task. But when I cleaned my daughter’s bathroom, I truly did it with love. I wanted it to be clean and fresh smelling for her. I thought about her as I did the task.
The same holds true for any activity that you do. Do tasks with love. Even if you are doing them for yourself, still do them with love! When I fold my laundry, I make sure that my clothes are properly folded and hung up in my closet. I have all my clothes organized neatly. That is a gift that I give to myself.
When we do even the most mundane tasks with thought and care, then even the most boring or unpleasant chore takes on new meaning. Cleaning a bathroom isn’t just a task. Rather, it is an act of love for another human being.
Choose How You Spend Each Day: To be fully present during the day, it helps to affirmatively choose how you are spending it. So, when you get up in the morning, declare how you are going to spend the day. Yes, certain portions of the day may be outside of your control. 8 to 10 hours of your day may be devoted to your job. Nevertheless, you are choosing to work, so view your work tasks as your choice.
Each morning, you should start the day by stating your intentions for the day. Declare that you’ll eat healthy foods that day. Intend to spend some time reading positive literature. You may declare your intention to do your very best at your job, or to spend some extra time with your child.
Don’t simply start the day with the attitude that you are just going to try to manage whatever comes your way. Today is your day. Choose how you are going to spend it.
When we choose how we spend our time, we are more fully present. That is because we don’t feel like our time is being controlled by others. Rather, when we choose how we spend our time, we take control and are more engaged with what we are doing.
Cherish This Day: None of us knows which day will be our last. So, make each day count. Do what matters to you. For instance, I love being a mother. So, any part of my day spent with my daughter is time well-spent!
When you cherish your time, it is important to choose how you spend it and with whom you spend it. As a result, I make a point of eliminating negative people from my day, to the extent possible. For example, I recently received some irritable emails from a family member. When I received these emails, I had two choices: I could engage and have a long, unproductive back and forth with this person. Or I could ignore the emails and keep my peace. I ignored the emails and cherished my time.
Realize that each day is truly a gift from God. So, be fully present each day. Spend your time interacting with positive, kind and helpful people. Spend time each day enjoying the beauty of the earth. Listen to inspirational music. Read literature that uplifts you.
Be fully present today. Don’t waste your time feeling badly about the past or worrying about the future. You can’t control either one. Instead, focus on what you can control – how you spend today. Make today your best day yet.
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