We spend so much of our time planning that it is easy to forget to enjoy the now.
To survive in today’s constantly moving society, one must look ahead to schedule in vacations, events, bills, and social gatherings. Our lives have become calendars full of “to do” lists; an exhausting and often stressful predicament.
I have always tried to live in the moment in order to enjoy the happenings and people around me. However, more and more I find myself filled with anxiety as I run a mental budget or add more events onto the calendar of life. Instead of enjoying the moment, I’m stressing over the future, and this is a habit I wish to change.
Expense is a way of life, I cannot alter that. However, like other aspects of my life, I can declare war on my thoughts and revise how situations deviate my mind from the present.
For example: My three children participate in an annual 4H Camp. This year they were invited to attend various state camps. Instead of being proud of their accomplishment, I was seeing dollar signs. Because of this, my joy was tainted.
That night, when no longer surrounded by mosquitoes, I realized that all too often I allow my worries of money to steal the enjoyment out of the moment. I don’t know when I became I like this, but I do know I don’t like it.
This upcoming year in particular is full of exciting events as one of my girls prepares to graduate high school. Sadly, like with camp, all I can seem to think about is the financial implications. I can literally feel my head being squeezed as I run the list – senior pictures, cap and gown, invitations, party, prom, etc. – but then I look at my girl who is bubbling with excitement, smiling from ear to ear, and I remind myself that she can see the strain in my eyes. The thought that I am marring her joy with my anxiety is simply unacceptable, plain and simple.
So how do I plan to off-set this grown-up mentality of worrying about the future in order to enjoy the moment?
First, by smiling. I am a smiley person. I smile through awkward situations, scary ones, and of course happy ones. In my experience with the public I have found that when I smile I diffuse hostile situations as well as increase my energy level. So if it is successful at work, surely smiling will be successful in diffusing my anxiety at home as well.
Second, I will breathe. Taking a long deep breath and releasing it slowly. There is something truly cleansing in the act of simply breathing.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness meditation guide, talks about the importance of breathing like this: “It helps to have a focus for your attention, an anchor line to tether you to the present moment and to guide you back when the mind wanders. The breath serves this purpose…Bringing awareness to our breathing we remind ourselves that we are here now.”
And it is true. Any time I have felt anxious, overwhelmed, or upset in any way, I will simply take a few seconds to inhale deeply and release slowly. It is like sucking in all the negative and than blowing it away, leaving your body and mind free of tension once more.
We cannot control the world around us but we can control how we respond to life. The challenges, lists, and expenses will always be there, but my daughter only graduates high school once; we should both be there in mind and body to enjoy it. I want to experience this year through her eyes and share in her joy, not simply be a book keeper. And thus, when the vice of planning threatens to ruin the present, I will make a conscious effort to simply smile and breathe in order to keep things in balance.
It is often said, tomorrow may never come. Wouldn’t it be a pity to have spent all my day’s energy worrying about a tomorrow that never comes to pass? I would have missed so much – bird’s singing, fluffy white clouds in the sky, my children’s laughter.
Tomorrow will come whether we are prepared or not, but today – today is the only day we have to truly live.