In doing some spiritual reading, a whole chapter of one plain-spoken and down to earth book was all about “living in the moment.” It might be strange, in a go-go and rushed culture to name the lack of this practice as being at the heart of quite a bit of our stress, but it is true. Many of us have forgotten how to do this.
Living in the moment—also called mindfulness—is a state of active, open, intentional attention on the present. When you become mindful, you realize that you are not your thoughts; you become an observer of your thoughts from moment to moment without judging them. Mindfulness involves being with your thoughts as they are, neither grasping at them nor pushing them away. Instead of letting your life go by without living it, you awaken to experience.
That is the Psychology Today way of saying, let the past be past, and let the future take care of itself. Know what is needed at this moment in time in life, and don’t worry about vacation, or work piling up on the desk. Take care of what is in front of you. Let go of grudges, revenge, and past mistakes. Do not plan overly for a future that is uncertain, although take precautions where needed, and stock up on necessities as life requires. Just do not worry about it.
Why should we do this?
Cultivating a nonjudgmental awareness of the present bestows a host of benefits. Mindfulness reduces stress, boosts immune functioning, reduces chronic pain, lowers blood pressure, and helps patients cope with cancer. By alleviating stress, spending a few minutes a day actively focusing on living in the moment reduces the risk of heart disease….
Mindful people are happier, more exuberant, more empathetic, and more secure. They have higher self-esteem and are more accepting of their own weaknesses. Anchoring awareness in the here and now reduces the kinds of impulsivity and reactivity that underlie depression, binge eating, and attention problems. Mindful people can hear negative feedback without feeling threatened. They fight less with their romantic partners and are more accommodating and less defensive. As a result, mindful couples have more satisfying relationships.
That means taking the time to control what we can, and not to worry excessively about the things we cannot. Do what is needed now. Do not fret over slights real or imagined. Enjoy time as it passes. Notice the flowers and the blue sky. Watch children’s soccer games without the phone. Do not let the unknown dictate life.
Living in the moment is all about letting go and savoring the life we have. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
And, yeah, it’s all small stuff.