Shannon M. Rivera
Have you ever noticed how a toddler or preschooler seems to be everywhere all at the same time? They notice the smallest things (at least what we as adults consider small) and take in all of their surroundings, noticing things that we have not noticed ourselves. And sometimes they get fixated on one thing that can hold their attention, for what seems like forever. A lot of times when this happens we are quick to rush them off to the next thing because we ourselves are in a hurry to move on to the next thing, the next task. Unfortunately, in time, they too learn to become the hurried adult. The adult that is too busy being busy.
We too were once that toddler, in a place in life where everything was fascinating and curious. As we grow into adults, that sense of curiosity and fascination diminishes or disappears all together. We have forgotten to live in the moment that we are presently in and instead have chosen to either live and dwell in the past, or long for a future time in which we imagine we will live a better life.
Living in the past brings with it the thought of happier times, when we lived a more enjoyable existence. Or, the past can bring with it thoughts of not-so-great times in which we now live with guilt, shame, hurt and regret because of those experiences.
We usually associate the future with a time in which “things will be better”, or we look forward to “That Trip” that we have been planning for months. Other future thoughts…”When I lose weight, I will go out more” OR “when I get that job I will be happier”. We can get caught up in planning to be happier instead of LIVING happier now.
Why do we need an idealistic future to determine our happiness? Why do we choose to postpone happiness? Why can’t we be happy NOW, with what we have, with where we live, with how we look , with the job we have? If we are always waiting for some future time in which we will be happy, the present and all of the joy it brings will be lost.
We have so many opportunities today to be happy if we only take time to be truly aware of life around us, and to be thankful for that which we do have.
Yes there are times in life when sadness and horrible situations are a part of life, and we still have the opportunity to be aware of our emotions, our physicality and of our surroundings, in the present moment, and to be in touch with what IS right now.
I have found the use of my five senses as a great way to bring me into the present moment, no matter where I am or what I am doing; at work, out in nature, riding the subway, walking down a busy city street, eating a meal, spending time with my children. As you are reading this article, take a few moments to integrate your five senses in THIS moment and notice what is around you. The sights, sounds, smells, feel and taste of your surroundings.
See 5 things notice the sky, birds flying, people watch, trees blowing in the wind, the ceiling, walls and floor in your place of work.
Hear 4 things the sound of your footsteps as you walk, bird sounds, rain falling, tree leaves rustled by the wind, lawnmowers cutting grass, people talking
Touch/feel 3 things the feel the breeze on your skin, feel your fingertips, touch the tree leaves or trunk and feel the texture, the sensation of sitting in a chair
Smell 2 things the air, food cooking (notice the different smells), your hands especially after putting on your favorite cream
Taste 1 thing really taste the food you are eating, taste the lip balm on your lips, the drink you are drinking
Most of us won’t be present ALL of the time and it may actually feel a little silly at first. But the more you do it, the more appreciation, joy and happiness you will experience in life. Practicing being in the present moment decreases stress and anxiety of the “what ifs” & the anticipation of some future that hasn’t happened. On the contrary, it increases your awareness and the appreciation of what you have before you.
Enjoy this present moment!