Try Living in the Present!
As I have read and reread Joseph Bailey’s book “The Serenity Principle,” I feel very comforted by these words, “Serenity and wisdom can only be realized in the present.” While I typically don’t make New Years’ resolutions, this year I decided to be more mentally present in each moment that I am given. Not sure where to start, I began flipping through a few of my favorite books, reflecting on which points seem to be the most accurate in my life. In this process, I found three improvement opportunities that have helped me.
A book titled “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin is based on the author’s attempt at creating a happier year. In the process, she learned how to enjoy her life. One circumstance that hit home was Gretchen’s experience with her husband and daughters as they put away groceries. Her husband pulled out some oranges and, instead of setting them in their proper place, was juggling them for her daughters to enjoy. After she scolded them, she later thought on the experience and recognized that she had missed out on an opportunity to enjoy that time with her family. Ms. Rubin states, “Only then did it occur to me that I should have enjoyed the moment and allowed the chore to be fun.”
When we have set agendas, it becomes irritating when other people don’t seem to have our same goals in mind or that they don’t have the same sense of urgency. By allowing flexibility and enjoying these little interruptions in our daily lives, we can be more present with ourselves and with our families in ways that cannot be planned. When Gretchen was constantly thinking ahead to the moment when the groceries would be entirely put away, she wasn’t allowing herself (or her family for that matter) to be in the moment and to enjoy the spontaneity.
Avoid Excessively Looking Behind or Forward
This was a quote I also picked up from “The Serenity Principle,” “Part of learning to live in the moment means allowing certain situations just to be what they are.” When we dwell so much on the past or look so much into the future, we miss out on what is going on right now. Have you ever had a day when you are just constantly waiting for the clock to hit 5 o’clock or for the day to be over in general? Have you had days when all you can think about is that terrible relationship you were in and various scenarios where you did something you weren’t proud of? Giving these thoughts power as if they mean something robs us of our peace. In college, I took a general psychology course. My professor would have open discussion times where anyone could ask any question they had. A very popular question was about how we can control our thoughts and let go of damaging thinking processes. He described the negative thought as a monster. He said, “when you see the monster come into your brain, you have two choices: you can be mad at it for being there, or you can acknowledge it and allow it move along. Although it seems intuitive to be mad at it, trying to change the thought or chase it away is actually feeding it. You are giving thought the only thing it needs to stay alive: attention. This concentration can cause thought to linger and grow. The next time you have an anxious thought about the future or remember a negative experience from your past, try to just acknowledge its existence in your mind, and then just allow it to pass along.
I was comforted by these words from Gretchen Rubin, “After all my research, I found out what I knew all along: I could change my life without changing my life.” We can find peace in our circumstances. When we allow our minds to elevate and come out from the cycle of negative thought processes, our ability to change our behavior is ultimately and sometimes even drastically improved.
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