Two things that I made a concerted effort to do last year were make peace with a lot of areas of my life and to study more of what it means to be a minimalist (you can read a great article that breaks down what it means to be a minimalist here). In order to reach both of those goals, I had to let go of a lot of things—not just tangible ones either. I had to release some people, some perspectives and certain expectations as it directly related to those people and perspectives. I won't lie—doing some of that kicked my butt; altered me in some ways too. But if someone were to walk up to me right now and ask what pursuing peace and becoming more of a minimalist ultimately resulted in, I'd have to say that they both taught me to live in the moment.
How? It's fascinating, really. When you're not out here trying to buy a ton of stuff, maintain a billion relationships or define success based on other people's standards instead of your own, it's amazing how you're not so anxious or stressed about the future. It's not that you don't care about it (that's irresponsible); but it's like you take on the words that Christ himself once said—and instructed: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matthew 6:34—NKJV) You realize that all you really should concern yourself with is doing your best, right here and right now. Everything else is either karma (the result of past "in the moment" choices that you made) or something that is totally out of your control. And acknowledging this reality? It creates a kind of woosah that releases a lot of overthinking, burdens and stress. And that makes life so much easier, across the board.
If you get where I'm coming from in theory, but you are still trying to master how to actually get into the present more often, I've got some reasons, via personal experience, that can (hopefully) get you to stop worrying so much about the past or obsessing over the future. Because really—why do that when the present is where it's at? Literally.
REASON #1: No Matter What, Now Is a Teachable Moment
A poet by the name of X.J. Kennedy once said, "The purpose of time is to prevent everything from happening all at once." Another way to look at that quote is, "The purpose of time is to keep you from becoming totally overwhelmed"—or more overwhelmed than you already are. Whether this very moment is showing you how to be more patient, how to focus solely on the matters at hand, how to stop worrying so much or how to stop pushing yourself so hard—if you get really quiet, breathe deeply and embrace living in the present, every single moment that you're in can teach you something; especially about yourself.
The more you learn, the more you grow. The more you grow, the more prepared you are for what the next moment has in store.
That's one of the best things about time—it instructs us how to pace ourselves, to not rush and to accept how every moment flows in our lives. It took me a long time—too long—to learn that if time thought I was ready for more than what is right in front of me, I would have it. Embracing this fact has totally altered how I choose to live my life for the better. (More on this in a bit.)
REASON #2: You’ve Got All That You Need to Handle the Present
A signature quote that I have posted as a signature in one of my email accounts is this—"You have everything you need, right now, at this very moment, to accomplish what YHVH wants you to do—right now, at this very moment." YHWH is "Yahweh" which is a Hebrew title for God. When you're a freelancer like I am, life can sometimes be mad unpredictable. There have been times when, without any warning at all, I have gone from being able to handle all of my bills to finding out that "my services are no longer needed" and immediately having to figure out what's next. Back when I tried to run ahead of time, it would totally freak me out. But as I worked more and more on only controlling what I could control while also realizing that even if my mind wanted me to imagine myself on the street and starving, neither of those things were happening in the moment, my anxiety subsided.
I still had my crib, the lights were still on, and food was in the fridge. The news that I got in the present was just alerting me to make a different kind of plan for my future. But in the now, I was fine. And, God willing, with the right plan in place, I would remain fine next week and the weeks to follow. Every time that way of thinking proved to be right. Did I always have what I wanted in the present? Nope. But what I needed was always provided—"For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him." (Matthew 6:8—NKJV) Most times, that is exactly the case.
REASON #3: Living in the Moment Keeps Us Calm, Stable and Centered
Calm, stable and centered. Unfortunately, I don't think a lot of people realize just how powerful it is to live in this kind of energy space. When you're calm, you're free from disturbance. When you're stable, you're firm, steady and, as one of my favorite dictionary definitions puts it, "not wavering or changeable, as in character or purpose". When you're centered, you're able to do something that many human beings have yet to comprehend, let alone master—you can find balance between emotion and logic.
A couple of years ago, when I had one of the most devastating heartbreaks of my life, for a second time (long story, chile), as I was grieving it all out, I realized that a big part of what had me so shook was the fact that the life I thought I was going to have didn't appear to be panning out that way. You know what that means, right? It wasn't just that I loved someone who didn't love me the same way; it was that my feelings caused me to make all sorts of future plans rather than simply love in the moment. Looking back, I honestly was probably more disappointed in how I thought my future life was going to be more than anything else.
Fast forward to now and I love differently. I have standards and expectations, no doubt (we all should). But my emotions (what I want to happen) are not running so far ahead that logic (what is actually transpiring) is going by the wayside. And that? That has me in a state of tranquility that I've never really had before. And trust me, when you are approaching life and love from a calm, stable and centered head and heart space, nothing can touch you like it can when you're…not.
REASON #4: Living in the Moment also Encourages Gratitude
There's a Scripture in the Bible that says, "So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; It takes away the life of its owners." (Proverbs 1:19—NKJV) I know that a lot of people think of the word "greedy" from the perspective of folks wanting monetary gain but, personally, I believe that you can be greedy when it comes to how you process time too. Being greedy is about being eager. You're preoccupied with being married? Greedy. You're obsessed over your biological clock? Greedy. You can't seem to finish anything you start because you don't like waiting for its manifestation? That is also being greedy because, again, being greedy is about being eager and, when you're eager, you don't really know how to enjoy the moment you're in. As a direct result, you're focused more on getting than being grateful for what you already have.
If you hate being single so much, ask some of your married friends what they miss about living the single life. If all you can think about is becoming a mommy, check out articles on our site like "I Am A 27-Year-Old Struggling Mom & I Regret Having My Child" and "For The Women Racing To Have Children Before It's 'Too Late'", just so you can get a bit of a reality check. If your eagerness has you procrastinating or quitting projects, use this time to create shorter term goals on a weekly basis that you can complete so that you can actually get things done.
The more you remove eagerness from your life, the more space you'll have for gratitude to come in. Gratitude is about recognizing what you already have and giving thanks for it.
You know, a novelist by the name of Cynthia Ozick once said, "We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude." It's pretty easy to take what you already have for granted…until you lose it. Maintaining a spirit of gratitude keeps this kind of reality check, ever in the forefront of our minds. That way, we're not so obsessed with wanting what we don't have that we're not thankful for what we do.
REASON #5: This Moment Will NEVER Come Again. Cherish It.
I get it. The moment that you might be in right now could very possibly suck in every imaginable way possible. But here's the thing about that—if you reflect on your past, there have been other times when you probably felt the same way (or very similar). But now that those moments have come and gone, if you're really honest with yourself, they probably strengthened you, matured you, or prepared you for something in the way that nothing else quite possibly could. Same goes for where you are in this moment.
My greatest disappointments in people taught me how to not treat others. My biggest financial blows taught me to respect my money and resources more. My greatest heartbreaks showed me how to love myself better. Bottom line, whether the moment you are in is good or not so good, if you choose to let it evolve you into an even greater person, it is something to cherish. In spite of whatever is happening right now, this moment will never come quite this way ever again. Take it in. Grow from it. One day, you'll look back and be glad that you did.
6. This “Dot” Is Connecting You to a Much Bigger Picture
Definitely one of my favorite quotes on the planet is the one by a pastor by the name of John Piper—"God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them." Yeah, I think that one of the hardest things for us to do is accept that whatever is happening (or not happening) today, this week or even this year is simply a "dot" or a part of the puzzle piece to a much greater picture. You may not to be able to fully comprehend why something is happening (or not happening) in this moment but it's important to remain humble enough to remember that you are not the only one who plays a role in your life story. Other people need to come in and out. Things need to transpire behind the scenes.
Timing needs to cause some things to come together and fall apart in order for the ultimate masterpiece to reveal itself.
So, no matter how you may be feeling about right now, try and keep your emotions in check. This moment is connected to something in your past and will also connect to something else in your future. If you're open to seeing things from this perspective, it will all make sense. One day.
REASON #7: Things Tend to Come to Us Once We’re Ready for Them
I kind of already touched on this, but I want to go a little deeper because, if you're someone who really struggles with living in the moment, I think grasping this final point can help you to do it better. Whenever I'm talking to a single woman who desires to be married and she goes on and on about how "ready" she is, I tend to say something along the lines of, "So, you're 'completely prepared or in fit condition for immediate action or use'? How do you know that?" If there's one thing that, shoot, I'd say 95 percent of married folks will admit about marriage it's that, although some went in believing they were ready, they realized they had absolutely no clue what they were getting themselves into.
Personally, I think it's pretty arrogant to assume that you are "completely prepared" for marriage and so the hold up must be your future spouse. And boy, to go into that kind of relationship without humility and self-awareness is only setting you up to have your ego knocked down a peg or two—or 20. When I wrote articles like "If Your Man Is Missing These Things, Wait Before Marrying Him" and "Ask These Sex-Related Questions BEFORE You Marry Him", by no means was I implying that we shouldn't look within to see where we stand on these points too. For instance, one thing that I desire in my husband is financial stability and responsibility but guess who is just now really getting her past taxes together? Now what I look like demanding my partner be what I am not? That is the epitome of hypocrisy.
One of the best things about living in the moment is it gives you the opportunity to get ready for what is to come. Time is wise and loving enough to slow things down and gift us with the present so we can do so.
So, even if you do struggle with embracing the present, I hope all of these reasons have offered some insight into just how important it is to love where you are. The moment is here because you need it. When you don't, it will pass. Once time deems that you are ready for it to.
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