As a highly sensitive person, our imaginations tend to carry us away into so many “what if” future scenarios that we cripple ourselves.
One big trap that robs our serenity is feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of our future busyness. I don’t know about you, but for me when I have a really full schedule, I can look ahead at it and feel drained.
By living in the future and fearing how much work I have to do and how little relaxation time I’ll have to enjoy my life, I lose my energy.
I’ve noticed some people tend to have tons of energy and get a lot done. They tend to truly live more in the present moment and not project their fears into the future.
And actually, I have learned to live my life like this for the most part. I have found worry to be over-rated and really not very effective.
What’s the secret? Maybe it’s different for everyone. But I’ve found a few things that seem to work.
1) If we focus on giving to others, that we GET TO do X,Y,Z, it totally shifts our perception, the lens through which we view the world. Life is no longer one big responsibility that feels heavy, but a gift to breathe other day.
2) I examine my thoughts regularly. Does this belief bring me fear? If so, do I wish to keep it? Or would it be more fulfilling if I chose another belief that fills me with gratitude and hope…
3) When I was in Overeaters Anonymous, we had a slogan “One day at a time.” This really helped me to realize I didn’t have to figure my whole life out all at once. Life would unfold one moment at a time.
So what if we married the present moment and divorced worry? What would this look like? Maybe we’d find ourselves breathing a lot more deeply, which brings us back into the present moment. It also calms our nervous system.
It’s not how busy we are that’s the problem. It’s the tension and stress created in our body and mind when we think we can’t handle our life that is the problem.
This reminds me of Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. It always amazes me how he could tirelessly work countless long days and nights in the concentration camps,helping his fellow human being, and see beauty and meaning amidst the most absurd, painful and dehumanizing conditions.
It’s because he was focused on others, not himself (the giving piece). He questioned his thoughts and decided to create a reality in his own mind that served him to be present with others. He lived in the moment.
If he could do it in those conditions, then we can do it too, right?
I’ll end with a reading from December 17 in the book Healing After Loss.
The supreme value is not the future but the present. Octavio Paz.
The present is bad enough when we are hit with fresh grief. But we compound our sorrow by spinning our minds out over all the years and occasions of the future when we will so sorely miss the presence of our
A certain amount of this is not only inevitable, but helpful–a kind of rehearsal for what lies ahead, and a way of getting used to our loss by thinking of all of its ramifications.
But after a while we need to remind ourselves that life is lived one day at a time, and that this day, this present moment, is all we have, all we can be sure of. Sir William Osler speaks of living our lives in “day-tight compartments”–as a ship’s captain, with the touch of a button, shuts off parts of that ship into watertight compartments.
It is we who control the buttons of our own preoccupations and concerns, and we will do much better if we focus most of our attention on the moments and hours of the day that is before us.
I will try to contend graciously and productively with this day.”
Let’s talk. I invite you to consider how you might get back some of your energy and your life. I’ll be teaching the Frontier to Freedom class on Thursday, 1/10/19. Please join me at a new location for this month.