Are you missing out on life's best moments?
Every single day is made of up thousands of moments. Good ones, bad ones, stressful ones, beautiful ones. These tiny moments, good or bad, when combined together make up our entire lives. Moments as mundane as making your morning coffee or a quick kiss on the cheek from a loved one… every little moment is a mini snapshot of your life. Recently my Mum had a health scare and while I was visiting her in ICU I started thinking about how I wished I had appreciated the times when she was healthy. I started thinking about how much I'd been taking all of the little moments for granted… expecting that they’ll happen again tomorrow. But the scary reality is that they might not. Things change so quickly… one minute your happily going along from moment to moment on cruise control and BAM someone hits your car, a friend or family member gets sick or you lose your job. Unfortunately bad things happen all too often, and usually when we least expect them. Life can change in a matter of seconds and you’ll be left wondering why you hadn’t been basking in the good moments while they were occurring.
What a terrible way to live. Only recognising how much you loved those moments once they were gone. When I was standing next to my mums hospital bed I knew that while I couldn’t change the past, I could change today and all of my tomorrows. I started seeking out techniques to remind myself to take stock and be more present in every moment. How to appreciate my life more, because as the old saying goes “you don’t get to live the same moment twice”. So here’s my learnings on how to live in the now, right now and savour every moment :
1. Slow down – allow more time than you need.
We’re all so busy running from one chore to another, to and from work and from one social gathering to the next family dinner. Its seems as though “busy” is the new buzz word and everyone wants to be “busy” all the time. But the problem is that we’re all too busy to savour the moment. Slow down. Instead of allowing 30 minutes for the commute from home to work allow 45minutes, savour the drive, laugh at the traffic and the idiots who are in a rush. Instead of waking up at 6:30am and rushing out the door by 7am, try waking up 15minutes earlier and spending time with your partner, lazing in bed or staying in the shower that little bit longer. Savour the mundane things… enjoy them and slow down.
2. Don’t think about the future or the past… today is all we have.
In her memoir Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert writes about a friend who, whenever she sees a beautiful place, exclaims in a near panic, "It's so beautiful here! I want to come back here someday!" "It takes all my persuasive powers," writes Gilbert, "to try to convince her that she is already here." We’re all guilty of this one! Often, we're so trapped in thoughts of the future or the past that we forget to experience, let alone enjoy, what's happening here and now. We sip coffee and think, "This is not as good as the one I had yesterday." We eat chocolate and think, "I hope I don't run out of chocolates." When we're at work, we fantasize about being on holiday; on holiday, we worry sick about the amount of work piling up on our desks. We dwell on intrusive memories of the past or fret about what may or may not happen in the future. The hallmark of depression and anxiety is catastrophizing—worrying about something that hasn't happened yet and might not happen at all. Worry, by its very nature, means thinking about the future—and if you hoist yourself into awareness of the present moment, worrying melts away. So savour the chocolate, appreciate every day for its small beauties (yes including work… even if you just appreciate the free cookies in the kitchenette!). Be present in every moment and don’t take it for granted.
3. Express your love
Words, how little they mean, when they’re a little too late. Don’t wait to tell someone how you care for them. Whether it’s a partner, parent, sibling or work colleague, make time to write a note or tell them how much you appreciate them. When you express love outwardly your whole body takes on the emotion. Not convinced? Science says communicating positive emotions is proven to lower stress hormones, bad cholesterol, and blood pressure, and it strengthens immunity. Don’t wait, say what you want to say and say it with meaning. Seize the moment !
My Mum’s illness made me realise that I needed to start living moment to moment instead of day by day. Every moment is a chance to start again, you don’t need a new day to make a change. It’s crazy how so many people seem to think that tomorrow is better than today for getting things done. We put off those things that are important to us and we lie to ourselves by saying that we will do them later.
Whatever you need to do, whatever you need to start, whatever you need to say, do it now! Today is the tomorrow you planned for yesterday, so start today. Right now.