“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come.
We have only today. Let us begin.”
-- Mother Teresa
If you only read this one page, discard the rest of the book and start from today living one day at a time, I can assure you that your life will change for the better. This sounds like a sweeping statement, and you may find yourself disbelieving it, but throughout my career I have found the principle of living in the moment, which comes from yoga philosophy, to be the very best, most rewarding, most effective piece of advice ever given to anyone anywhere.
From this day forward you will endeavor to live just one day at a time. Yes, it’s as simple as that. No marathon to run, no lengthy report to write, no heavy-duty physical exercise (unless you want to, of course!). All that is required of you is to live today fully, as if it were your first day and your last.
Try to focus on everything that you do, no matter how mundane. Attempt to concentrate on each moment as it presents itself to you. Be aware, checking frequently that your thoughts are not dwelling on the past or racing ahead to the future. If you find that they are, STOP – and gently bring your attention back to the present, focusing on where you are, what you are doing and what is happening in the here and now.
Benefits of Living in the Present Moment
Acknowledge the benefits of living in the present moment; know that each moment you have today is in itself very precious. Think about it – you only have each moment once. You only live your life one day at a time. Why spend so much time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, when all you have is the present, and you will never have that “now” again? Cherish it, live it fully, be glad that you have it.
Even if you are not particularly enjoying it, even if you are in pain or living through difficulties, simply try your best to face the reality of it. Face it with a calm still mind (you will shortly learn how to do this), because if you do you will be able to cope with it much more easily, thus moving into the future with strength, dignity and hope. Resolve to do this each and every day. Remember this is a new beginning. Start now. The time is now. This is your present!
Living for the moment can be the most effective and quickest way of relieving stress and anxiety. If you think about it, most of your anxieties are about the past or the future. “Oh if only I hadn’t done this or that, I really regret not having done so and so… ” “Life was so much better then.” “If only I could go back and change things.” “I’m dreading… ” “What if that happens?” “What if it all goes wrong?” “What if it all falls apart?” “Will I ever be happy again?”, “What if…, what if…, what if…?” And so on. Can you imagine what these thoughts do to you over a period of time? How miserable and unhappy or stressed and anxious you would become.
Your Previous Thoughts Have Made You Who You Are
Remember that your way of living in the past has led you to this day, to where you are now, to how you feel now and to what you do and how you do it. Each and every thought you have is stored in your subconscious, and that in turn makes you who you are today. If, therefore, you continue to have similar negative, pessimistic, self-defeating thoughts, feelings and actions, your future outcome will be the same. What you put in, you get out. If you continue to do what you’re doing, you’ll continue to get what you’re getting!
The important thing is to realize and remember that you can’t go back into the past, turn the clocks back and put everything right. You can’t wipe out certain memories and change the decisions you made. Similarly, you cannot go back to a time in your life when everything was (or you think it was) a bed of roses. So why waste energy, bringing yourself down by allowing these thoughts and fears to fester and affect you so badly today? It doesn’t make any sense and it certainly doesn’t help.
The answer is to stop these thoughts that don’t belong in the present. The past has gone and the future is not here yet, so prepare responsibly and positively for the future by living positively in the here and now. Think about this again; it is worth emphasizing – the more negative thoughts you have by dwelling on the past or future, the more negative you become, not only in the present time but in the future also; conversely, the more positive you are, the more positive your future will become.
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That’s not to say that you must never think about the future. Of course we need to make plans, set goals, feel excited about something lovely that’s about to happen sometime in the future – but leave it there and return to reality, the present moment. Concentrate on the time that you have now. Similarly, of course there are times when we need to recall something from the past, or indeed when we enjoy thinking about happy events that took place in the past, and that’s fine – just don’t stay there! The time is NOW and you can never have the now back. There is no rewind button in reality!
Back to the Here and Now
If you’re thinking that the here and now, your reality, is really terrible, the only answer is to try your best to remain positive. Believe a little more in yourself and try to believe that things can get better. Nothing lasts forever. Visualize yourself leading a full and happy life in the not too distant future.
Remember that nothing ever stays the same; life is a constantly changing program. Every day is different, every day something new happens. It is possible for you to grow stronger and stronger each and every day instead of becoming weaker or more and more depressed.
If your circumstances don’t change for the better on their own, make them change. Begin to create the circumstances you want. Set your goals to ensure that your life will be better in some way in the future.
©2015 by Mary Heath. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Findhorn Press. www.findhornpress.com.
About the Author
Mary Heath has 30 years’ experience in the Private Sector and the British National Health System as a Stress Management Consultant, Counselor and Life Coach, working one-to-one as well as developing and delivering courses, workshops and seminars. She is a trained Yoga Teacher and has embraced other therapies such as EFT, CBT and NLP. More information on her website: www.maryheath.co.uk