What do you miss the most about being 5 years old? I miss the incredible joy of riding my bike. I miss the excitement of helping my mother make Jello. I miss the anticipation of having my father arrive home from work. I miss enthusiastically embracing large amounts of snow and actually wanting to go outside and play in it for hours. I miss the simplicity of being supremely happy swinging on the swing set in my back yard. I miss the freedom of not caring what I looked like – whether my hair was messy or my clothes matched. I miss the fun of performing for my stuffed animals (I think they really enjoyed it). I miss my innocence and my effortless optimism.
I miss all those things. I guess what I miss the most is living in the moment free from worry about the future and regret about the past. Lately, I’ve been trying to be more present. It’s really tough! My thoughts are usually filled with my to-do list for the day or my future plans. Or, I’m caught up with guilt, shame, anger, regret or resentment about something that happened in the past. Does this sound familiar?
Many of us complain about the present, blame others for our misery and wallow in self-pity. So often we fight against the present moment especially when we are experiencing something we don’t like or think we don’t deserve. Becoming friendly with the present moment takes constant practice. It requires being mindful of the chatter that constantly fills our thoughts. It involves living in a state where we relinquish resistance to what is.
We tend to label experiences as either “good” or “bad.” It’s ironic that even though we don’t like waiting, many of us insist on waiting until circumstances are “perfect” before we choose to be happy. By doing so, we miss the joy of living in the now.
Eckhart Tolle, author of The New Earth and The Power of Now said, “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” This was written by a man who was once on the verge of suicide before he became aware of the power of living in the present.
Even seemingly “bad” circumstances can be blessings in disguise if we become willing to see them in a different light and use them to our advantage. Best-selling author and coach, Debbie Ford, talks about how her dyslexia hampered her ability to learn and how she was voted in school as the least likely to succeed. She used her seeming disadvantage to transform her life and now she works helping others transform their lives.
If you are in a place you don’t like, remember the adage: “This too shall pass.” Sometimes we think what we’re experiencing will last forever when in reality everything we experience is temporary. This realization will help us persevere through tough times and make us grateful in good times.
Gratitude is another powerful tool that comes with being present and realizing the temporary nature of life. Consider starting a gratitude journal and every day list at least five things that you’re grateful for. I’ve started doing this and it’s amazing how this makes me look at my life differently and live it differently.
In The Art of the Moment Veronique Vienne wrote, “As you embrace the here and now, don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel lucky – lucky to be blessed with a good mind, lucky to have friends who love you for who you are, lucky to be living in such an interesting time.”
Be open to receive the possibilities of where you are right now. Today, live like you were five years old and dance with the reality of what is even though it may not be what you consider “perfect.” Soak in the beauty of the sky at dusk, savour moments with loved ones, and resist the temptation to criticize and judge what you’re experiencing. Embrace where you are, remembering that the only moment you ever have is this moment and every moment is a chance to practice the gift of the present.
“Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed.” Coria Kent