HOME>> HABIT #3 Practice happiness...by living in the present
Physically we live in the present moment. Our hearts beat steadily without any effort on our part. Our bodies function to keep us alive from moment to moment. However, our minds aren’t always in synch with the here and now. They tend to wander off into the future or back to the past, forfeiting the experience of the present. The present is the only time we have to enjoy. It’s the only place happiness exists. We have no control over time. We can’t speed it up or slow it down. We can only live it fully now. Right now is the time to be happy.
It is only possible to live happily-ever-after on a day-to-day basis.
We crucify ourselves between two thieves: regret for yesterday and fear of tomorrow. ~Fulton Oursler
We can practice happiness by focusing on the present. Focusing on the present moment requires awareness and concentration while releasing distracting thoughts. It requires us to make a deliberate effort to focus our minds on what we are doing or experiencing. For example, observe yourself doing something rather than just going through the motions. Taste your food and sip your drink rather than rushing through eating or drinking. Concentrate your attention on your breathing, your walking,
or your heartbeat. Focusing on the present helps us to
release stress, refresh, and enjoy the present.
In this activity, we can practice happiness by becoming more aware of how much of our time we live in the past, present, or future. Keep in mind: the past is over and done; the future is yet to come; the present is happening now. Also note: We are not to confuse living in the past with learning from the past; or, living in the future with preparing for the future. To learn from the past and prepare for the future only enhances our present experience. However, living in the past or in the future is done at the expense of the present.
On paper or a word processor, make (3) columns: past, present, future. Throughout the day, notice where you live in your mind.
Past—You replay scenarios in your mind of something that has already happened. You dwell on your regrets.
Present—You drink your beverage slowly and deliberately, tasting every sip. You concentrate on a conversation you’re having with someone, and you listen to understand.
Future—You become preoccupied with something that you anticipate to happen. Worries and “what if’s” occupy your mind.
Under each column, record how you spent your time. Then ask yourself:
What occupied most of my time today?
What types of things keep me in the past? Do I spend more time there than I should?
Was I living in the past or learning from the past?
What draws my attention to the future? Do I spend more time there than I should?
Was I living in the future or planning for the future?
How did I spend my time in the present?
Am I able to stay in the present without being distracted?
What kinds of things distract me from enjoying today?
How can I cherish the present more in my life?
Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That's why we call it the present. ~Babatunde Olatunji
In this activity, we can practice happiness by making time to appreciate the moment. Choose a comfortable place where you won’t be distracted. Take in a deep breath and breathe out slowly. Do this until you feel relaxed. Now look around you. Make yourself aware of your surroundings.
What do you hear? Is it noisy…chaotic…loud…busy….quiet….peaceful?
What do you see? Is there movement…life? Is there beauty…clutter…. light…darkness?
What do you smell? Is there an aroma of food… perfume…flowers…clean air… smoke… pollution?
What do you feel? Is it hot…cold…windy… damp? Is it soft...rough?
What do you taste? Is it sweet...salty...bitter...sour...spicy?
Note: If you prefer, close your eyes and imagine something you can experience with your senses. You might want to envision someone you love, a butterfly, a melody, or the scent of baked apple pie.
Next, focus your attention to something you are experiencing in this moment that you can appreciate. Take pleasure it in. Allow your mind to dwell in each moment. Stay calm and focused. If you become distracted bring your attention back to focus. Practice this daily.
Each new day gives us the chance to experience and appreciate life like never before.
When we are present in each moment, the past gently rolls up behind us and the future slowly unravels before us. ~ Rev Richard Levy