I’m currently reading Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” and there are so many wonderful, practical messages about how to live a better life and be more present that I wanted to share it with you. Even before reading this book, one of my many mini New Years resolutions was to be more present. I would find myself driving to the grocery store on a Sunday thinking about a million things and before I new it I was actually driving to work. My brain had gone into autopilot and I had completely lost focus on the present. For another example of not living in the moment I’m going to call out a friend- you know who you are. I have a great friend who whenever we got out to lunch is always on the phone- planning her schedule, checking Instagram, texting a friend, etc. – and it drives me crazy. To be honest, I am also guilty of this sometimes, especially with the Instagram… But recognizing the problem is the first step to recovery and I want to be better! So when someone told me about this book I thought it would be the perfect thing to refocus my energy and gain some wisdom on how to live in the moment and be fully present.
One of the first things Tolle tells you to do is pay attention to the thoughts you have throughout the day. You can’t correct what you aren’t aware of, right? You’ll probably start to notice that what we think about throughout the day is mostly about two things: the past and the future. I know I am guilty of always thinking about the future: how many hours left of work, what workout will I do today, what should I make for dinner, how many hours of sleep will I get tonight, where will I go this weekend? Or questions like how much money did I make this week, how much will my bills cost, can I afford to pay my bills and take a vacation, what if my house gets damaged this hurricane season? The questions and thoughts were endless. Some were concerns that were causing stress and some thoughts were just for the sake of having thoughts! We all know that worrying about a situation or stressing over what might happen in the future won’t actually change anything, but it’s just so hard to stop. I quickly realized though that by thinking so much about the future I was missing the present. In other words, I was always missing out on my life that was happening now! So the first challenge is to bring awareness to your thoughts, see if they are concentrated on the past, future, or present. And then try to drop any thoughts, worries, concerns, regrets, etc about the past and future.
Tolle also says, “there are no problems”. This was, of course, difficult for me. Sure there are problems! Family issues, money issues, work, bills, accidents, traffic, lost job, car breakdown, forgot to put the lid on the blender before turning it on (that might be a true story..). But he reinforces that we really have no problems, sometimes just situations we need to make decisions about in that present moment. So if your car breaks down on US1, not a problem, it’s just time to make a decision. Call AAA and then rearrange your schedule as needed- a ride for your kids or call work to reschedule patients, etc. The point is to stay calm and in the present moment. In each single passing moment there is no problem you can’t address. In general he says that for all of our problems we can remove ourselves from the situation if possible, and if not we can either try to change it or simply accept it. If we decide to accept it the key is not to dwell negatively on it. Accepting it means being at peace with that decision.
Lastly, I want to talk about stress. Tolle defines stress as being here and wanting to be there or being in the present but wanting to be in the future. I think we are probably all guilty of this. I’m sure many people are working for the weekend and while you’re at work Monday thru Friday you’re thinking what you’ll do when you get home or what fun you can have this weekend. The problem with always focusing on the evening and the weekend is your missing the majority of the week! I can fall into this category. Sometimes when I’m driving into work (about a 30 min drive) I’m focused on the looong 10 hour work day ahead and when will I get a chance to fit in a work out and what will I have time to cook for dinner and I’ve just wasted a whole 30 minute drive on the future instead of enjoying my favorite country song on the radio or the beautiful blue sky and the trees or the family walking holding hands on the side walk.
For me, this is the key. Be present in each moment, take in your surroundings, and find the little, sometimes hidden, beauty in every part of your day. Change the circumstances when you can, accept them when you can’t, and make the best of each moment. Life is too short to spend it in the past or future. Be present! Be in The Now!