“Just be, right now, here; and breathe. Begin to trust the magic of yourself.” — Nikki Rowe
Oftentimes, we pull ourselves out of the present, longing for impossible ideals of the future. This means wishing we had what we currently lack: materialistic goods, posh vacations, what we wish we looked like – anything that would “appear” to give us greater happiness than what we feel right now. As a result of this, we are identifying with the fact that the present is missing something and thus, we end up taking the present for granted. Before you know it, you’re wishing you had lived a fuller life.
It’s far too easy to want things today – social media has played a huge role in causing us to be less-than-thrilled with our current lifestyles, constantly “touting” you with those that live richer or posher lives, or anything that would cause one to think “I will never have that, but I want it”. They might become obsessed over a certain celebrity, or have a friend they “stalk” on Facebook, to “live vicariously” through. It consumes them – this thought of wanting or needing to be someone else, so much so that they fail to appreciate what is in front of them.
I’m definitely not saying, don’t strive to be great, work hard, and make enough to support your dreams (and your shopping habits!), but I do believe that the path to happiness isn’t necessarily stuff – it’s experiences.
Experiences provide you an adventure for the senses – it forces you to be present in your life and enjoy every aspect of it. You might say to yourself, “But new Louboutins DO provide an adventure to the senses!” While I can’t argue that, it doesn’t have the same lasting effect as does being in a new environment, tackling adventures on your bucket list, or even spending time with loved ones, or even just with yourself.
When I started practicing daily gratitude, I was living in San Diego, where beauty surrounds you in all directions. Often cooped up in my office, I wasn’t really taking the time to go outside and just “be”. One of my girlfriends, whom is an amazing life coach and very deep into meditation practices, took me to the Meditation Gardens in Encinatas. The winding paths with koi ponds, trees, and park benches, gave way to sweeping views of Swami’s Beach with nothing but uninterrupted, pristine coast line. We stood there in silence, just taking in the sounds of the waves crashing, the seagulls squawking, and the slight breeze in the air. She asked if I wanted to meditate in this spot – this moment of pure elation came over me. For the next 20 minutes, my meditation practice was clearer and deeper than it had ever been before. When we completed our practice, the peace in my heart and mind was overwhelming, the feeling of elation was powerful, my mental state had never been clearer, and my overall body was so incredibly relaxed.
While this seems like this is only related to my practice, it actually had more to do with me remaining present and grateful for every piece of beauty that surrounded me. From that moment forward, I’ve never taken another second in my day for granted.
So how does one come to develop this way of life (and remain there)? In my last post, I suggested taking a walk or taking a break from your work and appreciating, even for just a few minutes, everything around you. But to sustain it, it requires attention and dedication. For example, in the Washington, D.C. area (or Los Angeles, or Istanbul, or Barcelona, or any other major city with a bad traffic problem), most people’s blood pressure rises significantly when stuck in rush hour traffic. We have this constant need to be on the move, not sitting idle. So we get angry that traffic isn’t moving, even if we do this everyday. I was one of those people who would (silently) yell expletives in my head, I’d get hot, and get super impatient, fuming all the way to my front door step. Then I was too tired to do anything else, other than watch TV and eat. It’s not healthy.
When I moved back to Washington, D.C., I took my newfound practice with me. Granted, traffic will always suck, but the difference is, I always tell myself, “I’ll get there when I get there, the world isn’t ending.” Instead of huffing and puffing, I cranked up my favorite music and started mentally running through my day, and what I’m grateful for.
Another example to think of when building your practice is conference calls and/or meetings. Most of us have so many a day that by lunch time, we’re tuned out. Being present, as best you can, in every call or meeting, can actually lead to gratefulness! Being more present increases success in not only your professional growth, but also mental growth as well. Being more present, leads to more active participation. When you’re more active in these calls/meetings, people take notice, your work becomes easier, and it leads to better opportunities.
Regardless of daily task, practice being present more and more each day and I guarantee you, life will become smoother, less stressful and more beautiful.