It’s the relentless pursuit of wanting, craving and longing for something that lurks in the murky waters of our desired future.
It isn’t tangible, often indescribable yet this feeling pulls us like the ocean waves: lapping over each other, crashing, spilling and suddenly, strongly retreating back out to sea.
Is there a way to live in the now, but also for the future? Yes.
I’ll never forget standing there, in the moment, capturing this exact view. In fact, my heart winks with a bitter joy at the memory in my mind. It was one of those, am I really here? Is this view for real? kind of moments.
We’d had such an epic day together and my heart was bursting with thanks and sheer joy, yet I just couldn’t enjoy this glorious sight.
Why? Because I was already scheming when I would come back. I kept asking, planning and dreaming of when I would return. This ludicrous line of thinking robbed me of that beautiful moment, I should have stood in awe with a smile on my face, declaring I AM HERE, I AM THANKFUL! not ‘oh when will I return?’
Over the last few months, I’ve been trying to cultivate a different way of life, in every aspect. I’ve spent years of my life living for others, planning for a future that wasn’t really ‘me’ and constantly pushing forward in my mind yearning for the next chapter.
It’s all a lie.
Life is lived in the little moments. The small decisions we make each day, when we choose to smile and not pass another pointless negative comment about the weather or when we decide we’ll go to work being happy and not miserable. It’s the path we carve when we decide to slow down by relishing the present, and in that decision, we embark on the best kind of journey.
1. You are in the present because of your past
And you know what, that’s ok.
I’ve been a real jackass at times, neglected seriously important things in my life, upset the people I love and been a darn right selfish moron. I’m sure you can relate because realistically, we’re human to the very core.
After years of drifting from one year to the next, I’ve finally come to a point in my life where I can say I’m thankful of my past because it’s what has led me to this very moment. The most beneficial thing about dwelling on former things is the fact we have the ability to pick apart old habits and thought processes so we can ask ourselves ‘hey, how can I do this and that differently NOW so I really live more?’.
Let me give an example. When I was 17-18 most of my time was focused around this innate desire to carve a way for a life that was bigger and better than where I was at the time. I wanted to escape this boring country so desperately that it affected how I portrayed myself in every single way infiltrating my choice in clothes, my very outlook on life itself, stupid things like what brand of lipgloss I carried and even who I was friends with.
My point? I’ve now delved into my past, recognised that trait in my personality and now I’m saying no to it. I don’t want to be that person, so each day I choose to cultivate a better habit in its place. If I hadn’t looked back into my past, picked this out and decided to learn from it, I wouldn’t be any further forward.
I’m happy now. I truly am. It’s a journey, as is everything in life but you really do learn to better your ‘now’ if you commit to learning from your past. Break the bad habits, form new ones and commit to living them out each day in the present.
2. Fully be where you are now
Imagine walking a tightrope, whilst juggling balls and blowing a whistle: this is the battle of fighting to be present, all day, everyday.
Whenever my mind is clouded with noise i.e. plans, dreams, to-do lists, schedules etc I find it really hard to focus and acknowledge the moment. It’s hard to do it in the mundane i.e. brushing your teeth, during your fourth hour at work etc but whenever you start to remove the noise and start to fill it with joy, you start to see things very differently.
I’ve found a few things to be pivotal in my ongoing pursuit and without having looked into my past I wouldn’t have figured this out. So that is something we all should seriously do, and re-do over and over again in life.
Ask yourself, when you’re living in the present, what way do you want to live? I found I lived a life of glumness, forever yearning for something I didn’t have. I was quick to criticise others and myself, short tempered, selfish and unable to find simple yet sheer joy in the ordinary.
Once you overhaul what way you’ve lived years of your life you finally have this tangible grasp on how you want to move forward each day, each tiny step at at a time and man is that an incredibly awesome feeling.
Find joy in that first hot, heavenly sip of coffee in the morning. Smile when life throws a bag of crap at you because heck, you’re alive and plenty of people are faced with worse situations. Laugh at the absurd negativity of others rather than allowing yourself to react negatively thus taking onboard their present outlook on life.
Embrace who you are now, where you are now and what you are doing now.
– Before bed, turn the lights off and take 10 minutes to empty your mind of all the junk that engulfs your thoughts. Think about all of the awesome things you have, that you’ve done and what you’re gifted at. Pray, or be still. Find your own way (whatever that is) of expressing gratitude and joy as you relive the day.
– Write it down.
At the moment I use The Five Minute Journal (here)
, it’s a fantastic journal and/or app that allows me to record certain thoughts, whilst challenging and reminding me that I am alive right now living for this moment, not for next year.
– Figure out what your heart yearns for. Mine yearns to travel, wander and create. I dream of the day I can be proud of something I have really created for myself, the day when I’ll know I’ve worked hard and have really achieved something brilliant by myself. When you conclude what that is, then you know when to bring your thoughts back into line if you get antsy, impatient or ungrateful for the day you’re living in now.
– Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. We need to repeat certain actions/thoughts for them to become habits, each day I remind myself to push my long-term goals (and worries/fears) to the back of my mind so I can focus on being me right now i.e. I will be successful, I will move forward in whatever way is meant for me but I Sarah-Louise must not waste this day by wishing it away for something that hasn’t happened.
Remember, wasting your present by dwelling on the future creates a dangerous habit.
2. You will be in your future because of your present
Everyone says only your past creates your future.
Your present creates your future because right now you’ve the power to choose how you’ll live in this very second, minute or hour. The decisions made right now affect how you’ll move forward, what path you’ll move onto and what way you ultimately will live your life.
I’d love to share few things I’ve learnt that are helping me right now in my life.
– Accept. Sometimes the cookie crumbles a certain way and there’s nothing we can do about it. If you feel worried, gravitate towards that feeling, figure out why and then accept it. I’m trying to move towards my problems so I can work them out, accept them and then divert that focus and attention on something else. Remember thoughts are powerful, but only when we choose to give them that power.
– See. I drive the same route to and from work everyday and thus my mind goes into auto-pilot, yet when I’m in a taxi leaving the airport driving to a hotel in another country my eyes absorb every spec of detail on the road. You’ve three options in life: take a different path, wholly open your eyes and consciously look or keep moving forward in auto-pilot.
– Stop. When I overthink what I am doing in each moment I actually lose the ability to enjoy each day and instead slip into a state of worry. Yesterday a lady’s husband dropped his money all over the floor at the till in work. In a state of embarrassment she asked me if my Dad did that, to which I replied: ‘I actually have no idea’ leaving her to glumly tell me I was very carefree. I actually don’t have a clue if he fumbles through his pockets, but I do know that I am more carefree because I no longer enter a state of panic or embarrassment when I or someone else I’m with drops things everywhere in front of others. Life is short, we drop stuff on the floor or spill drinks over ourselves which causes us to feel a certain emotion, choose to focus your energy on not feeling that negative reaction/emotion and instead just smile with the attitude of, it is what it is.
This is a bold but profound statement.
Life isn’t a constant destination. Life IS the destination.
We forever push forwards onto the next goal or desired destination in the future, but when we reach it something else quickly becomes the new destination. It’s fickle, but so are our hearts.
It’s simple – become aware of the fact you are alive, that it is a gift and it’s one you and only you can shape. There are so many poor people in this world that would give anything for a longer, healthier life yet their days are extremely numbered. It’s heartbreaking, especially when we cruise through life often living as if each day is a struggle.
I have such big goals, dreams and hopes that often seem crazy when I actually stop and think about them in detail. In fact, they kind of scare me. I could spend so much time in my mind dreaming about achieving them that I forget to enjoy where I am right now in THIS second. It’s crazy, one day I’ll look back on all these moments and a part of my being will achingly long for them again. My point? I need to embrace wherever I am in life in the present, be grateful and not waste it, regardless of what I want in the future.
Let’s be people that are awesome. People that are so contagiously positive, eternally grateful, bold, kind, gracious, humble and happy. It’ll always be a journey, but you can be that person and together, we can be those people.