Monday, October 19, 2009

STAY IN THE NOW

There are a lot of reasons for living for today. If we are living in the now – this very moment-- then we can find reasons to be peaceful with ourselves. If we focus on some memory in the past and make too may comparisons about where we are today, it will cause us to feel slighted or depressed. Don’t let your head – like the proverbial ostrich - be stuck in the sands of the past, trying to relive the glory of the old days. Yes, there may have been some happy times in our lives – when we were freer of responsibility or when everything seemed to be working out according to our plans. But those memories should serve us as treasures to be cherished, and not be a heavy yoke upon our necks that keep us from finding serenity and contentment in our current activities.

And there is the other flaw that can be keeping us from counting our blessings today. We can also have our heads stuck in the sands of the future. We have this mentality when we reject our present and say: "If I can only get X (you fill in the blank), then I can begin to really enjoy life." If you’ve been consistently waiting for something in the distant future or very different from what you have today, you will forget to live the present. When this happens, you forget to enjoy the path, day by day, that leads to your future. No one can know what the future will bring. Even if you should reach some dreamed of goal, the triumph might not be just what you expected it to be.

Not even one day of the past can be relived, and no one – rich or poor, in good health or bad, accompanied or alone -- is assured as much as one day in the future. So, look for meaning in today. If we get lost thinking about the past or dwell on the future, we will destroy our only opportunity to live out this very day to the fullest. So, look for meaning in today.

So, the message is to do what we can to hold our thoughts in the NOW, right here. We do that when we honestly say to our Creator: “ Thank you, God, for this day.” It may not be the perfect day, by some external “standards,” but it was our day. And if we are striving to do our best with whatever circumstances that have come our way, then it is a good day. Above all, our measure of today should be how well we are glorifying God by our thoughts and our efforts.

When we make ourselves fully live this moment and keep ourselves from wandering off into the future or the past, we become attuned to the benefits of what we are doing. In this way, we can sense that our lives are truly blessed and stop worrying so much about the future.

So, you may ask: "How can we train our minds to focus on the opportunities that the present offers?" Here are some ways that others have recommended to help us maintain a positive frame of reference and fully experience each day.

- If you have a conversation with someone, let the other person speak at least 60% of the time. And try to listen to what that person is saying. If it is positive and useful, reinforce that moment, telling the person that you understand what he or she is saying – and mean it. You can enjoy your family member or friend and learn a lot if you are actually present, trying to understand and be helpful. If you are just waiting for the other person to shut up, so that you can continue what is essentially your own monologue, then little or no good will have come from the occasion.
- Read a devotional or self-improvement book, and really concentrate on what it says. Soak up what the book offers. Take notes to help you remember the important points. Then, work to shape your future from your experience of that book.
- Take time for a class or otherwise reward yourself with something healthy or inspirational that you really like to do – like going swimming, running, doing yoga, meditating or listening to good music. Whatever you do, immerse yourself in it and do it fully - and not as a background for doing or thinking of something else.
- Start a personal project that you have been putting off because you were always too busy. You’ll never find time for your projects if you wait for the very best time to begin. Start now with whatever time and talent you have. The moments and hours for continuing your efforts will be found, when you decide to invest your time.

Once you start living more of your time in the present, a burden will be lifted from your shoulders. Being in the now allows you to focus on the opportunities of the day and to act on them. You’ll find some breathing room, be stronger and increase your odds of finding a better future.

The present is all we’ve really got. Today may be our only chance to get where we want to be tomorrow. Don’t get lost in daily life and go through life half asleep. Find rewards in doing good things this very day -- for yourself and for others. Doing this will build the positive you that can achieve many important things. If we aren’t capable of recognizing openings appearing on the horizon, then what can we expect of the future?

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