I remember when I was a little girl I had a tendency to save the things I thought were precious for later. For instance, if my parents bought me a beautiful pair of shoes I wouldn´t wear them to school immediately. I would place them very carefully in a closet, so I could admire them but at the same time they were protected from unwanted things happening to them. My nightmare was that I would trip up on something and there would be a scratch all of a sudden on my new shoe. Sometimes I kept them in the closet for so long that I didn´t eventually get to wear them, because the next season they were no longer fashionable. Unfortunately, this tendency to save things for later and to look forward to the moments that might never come robbed me of joy in many areas of my life. We are often so caught up in planning the life we should live, that we forget to live the one we already have.
Have you ever considered how you live your life when you believe the thought that you should be someplace else or with somebody else than you are with right now? How is it to live our one precious life with this thought? If I had to answer for myself, the answer would be that it sucks. I go out on a dinner with my friends and I´m thinking about how the group at the other table seems to have so much more fun than we do. I start dating someone and I already know that his shoulders should be wider and his job should be more interesting. I sit by my grandma´s bed in the hospital and I am looking for all the reasons why our life would be easier if she wasn´t ill. With the thought that my life should be something else than what it already is, I miss out on life. I treat people who I love, like they were not good enough for me. I resist the present because I think the future is where I want to be.
I´ve learned that if we don´t cultivate the habit of enjoying every moment we are in, we´ll never get to where we want to be. If we´re not content with what life is yielding to us right now, we´ll never have enough. If we don´t appreciate our work, friends or the place we live in, it can´t improve. These five simple practices help me to enjoy every day and to live without holding anything back, because I have no longer to wait for the special moments:
1. Only what you´re not giving can be lacking in any situation (ACIM)
Every situation that we experience is exactly as it should be. Without superimposing our thoughts onto a moment in time, we would see that what life brings to us is for us and not against us. It´s only when we accept the moment as it is, that we can either change the situation, if it no longer matches who we are, or if it´s something we can´t influence, we can change our thoughts about it. When I´m feeling uncomfortable in any situation, I ask myself what it is that I´m missing in that moment in time. Is there any way that I, myself, can provide what I expect from others? This immediately shifts my focus from blaming and longing to taking responsibility for my own experience. Now I gave myself a chance to find inside, what I´ve been so desperately looking for outside of myself.
2. A happy life is just a string of happy moments. But most people don´t allow the happy moment, because they´re so busy trying to get a happy life (Abraham Hicks)
This is it. Now is all we´ll ever get. If we don´t start creating the life we want for ourselves now, we might as well wait forever. We already have everything we need to start living the life we wish to live. Look at every person and every situation like it was there to help you express who you want to be. Who you already are in your heart. Each moment is unique, it´s a gift. If you put it away in a search for something better, you´ll never see what was inside and you´ll miss the magic, the depth and the connection, because you were mentally somewhere else.
3. What is it that you can appreciate right now?
Finding some things you can appreciate right here, right now, is going to help you to settle into the present moment more easily. Even if your current situation is challenging, I am sure there is still something to be thankful for. So what is it you can be grateful for? Is there a chair you are sitting on that supports you? That´s one thing to be grateful for. Your heart still beats and your body breathes even without you forcing it. Sun came up this morning and there is a good chance that it will do so tomorrow as well. Here we go, four things to add to our list and we didn´t even start properly. Life supports us in many ways, even if we didn´t ask for it. It supports us every moment, even when we are fighting against it. This is what love does. It gives everything without expecting anything in return.
4. Start Practicing who you want to be now.
You´re not powerless and you don´t have to spend your life waiting. Don´t wait for the New Year, next month or a new partner to start living your life the way you´ve always wanted. Imagine the life you want to live. Who are you in your vision? What qualities are you expressing? What kind of relationships do you have? Remember only what you are not giving can be lacking. When you find yourself in a situation you want to run away from or you start resisting it, look at it like it was a rehearsal instead. Go into every moment like it was a practice for you to embrace the self from your vision. Start practicing the qualities and create experiences, you think you are missing right now. Maybe you think your friends are shallow and you´re yearning deeper, more fulfilling conversations. Next time you are with them try to ask what is important for them in their lives, what makes them happy, what are their hopes and wishes and what experiences influenced them the most. And then just listen with an open mind, without projecting your image of who you think they are onto them. It´s more likely than not, that you´ll meet a completely new person.
5. Happiness is a choice.
Happiness is not a result of random events. You don´t want to give something so precious as your own joy over into the hands of chance. Happiness is a choice. Your joy is the one thing that nobody can change, steal from you or deprive you of if you don´t give them permission to do so. Only you get to choose what to think and how to react. You set a vision for your life and you choose who you want to be in every situation. Happiness is what we are when we let go of all the shoulds and shouldn´ts that we and the world tries to impose on us (you certainly should get married one day, otherwise, you are not going to be happy; you shouldn´t be so happy about your decision not to have children; you can´t be ill and happy at the same time; you will be happy once you are successful; you certainly shouldn´t be too happy, because you could offend some people;…). They can laugh at you and call you crazy if you are happy for no particular reason. However, we´ll both know that you are courageous and free at last. It takes a lot of strength to decide to be who we really are – and at the same time to be happy about it – in a world that strives for perfection.
If you´d like to practice these processes in your life, I created a worksheet for you, which will help you with each of the steps mentioned above:
I hope you are enjoying every moment of your day today,