Some things, I am better writing about than doing. One of those is living in the moment.
Real life happens in the present–not the past, not the future–yet, we remain consumed with one and worried about the other. We throw away much of the enjoyment of life, one moment at a time.
My issue/obsession/idol is excessive planning of the future. I do believe that planning is hugely important, and that most people under-plan their life. But I over-plan, sometimes when I should be simply enjoying and appreciating living in the moment.
I’m relaxing with the family, but thinking about my next project. I’m in church, while my mind wanders to things to do later. I’m talking to a friend, and secretly planning out my day.
Here’s a quick test for how you live in the moment: On Christmas, one of the best “moments” of the year, do you focus on sincerely enjoying your family and many blessings? Or, does your mind keep wandering to the “coulda, shoulda, woulda’s” of the past, or the “will it, won’t it’s” of next year?
We are consumed with the past
There are good reasons to look back at times. It’s healthy to examine our mistakes, as long as we then correct them and let them go. Fondly reliving good times is enjoyable, and learning from things that have happened is healthy self-improvement.
But being consumed with the past is a waste of time and energy.
“It is difficult to live in and enjoy the moment when you are thinking about the past or worrying about the future.” (Roy Bennett)
The past is gone. It no longer exists.
But how we deal with the current moment is a choice. Having been wronged in the past does not have to make us bitter in the present. Anger from previous arguments shouldn’t cloud our current days, and excessive shame over prior mistakes doesn’t have to paralyze us now.
When we are consumed with the past, we lose moments we can never get back.
We worry about the future
There are also good reasons to think about the future. Planning allows us to make better use of our precious time, and setting goals help us make progress more rapidly.
But excessive worrying about the future sucks satisfaction out of life in the present.
Most of what we worry about will never happen. Either way, obsessing about it won’t change it.
When we worry excessively about the future, we might as well be telling God we don’t trust him to take care of us. Once we have put a plan in place, the best way to make progress is to do our best in the present. Additional and unnecessary worrying is one of the biggest “life stealers” we all face.
When we are obsessively worried about the future, we miss pleasures happening in the moment.
We can enjoy living in the moment
We are given the gift of precious moments every day, and we should always remember that:
- Joy happens in the moment.
- Love happens in the moment.
- Forgiveness happens in the moment.
- Praising God happens in the moment.
- Recovery happens in the moment.
We no longer have the past. It is gone, and there is nothing we can do about it. We can’t control the future, we can only build a plan and do our best today.
In this moment, we control the past by how we choose to think, or not think, about it. In this moment, we influence the future through what we are doing right now.
But all we really have is the “now.” So, we should appreciate it, be thankful for it, and enjoy living in the moment, because that’s when life happens.
Question: How good are you at living in the moment?
Action: Think of five enjoyable or meaningful moments you had today.