If you’re depressed, you’re living in the past.
If you’re anxious, you’re living in the future.
If you’re content, you’re living in the present.
Anyone who knows me personally will agree that most of my anxiety issues are a direct result of me living in the future; worrying about what is going to happen tomorrow. What’s going to happen at work? Will I have enough time to complete tasks A, B and C? What will happen if I don’t? What’s going to happen this weekend? What if I forget to do X, Y and Z?
I have always had an unhealthy relationship with the unknown. I hate surprises—whether they are good or bad. I have always found a way to open my Christmas presents prior to the 25th and if there is a secret, I will sniff it out. I even skip to the end of books before I finish them.
If you really want to make me crazy, leave me a message on my voicemail telling me you need to talk to me about “something” and be unavailable when I try to call you back. I will drive to your house to find out what that “something” is. You might just want to know what I’m wearing to the party on Friday night. However, while I’m waiting for you to call me back, I’m thinking the worst. You have melanoma. You have fallen and you can’t get up. You’re stranded in a snowstorm and you need help and I was your last call and now your cell phone is out of batteries. You get the idea.
It’s this “worst-case scenario” type of thinking that keeps me from living in the moment and truly enjoying my surroundings. I’m so busy worrying about my future life that I don’t always appreciate the one I have right now. Instead of obsessing over the meeting I have tomorrow, I should be focused on painting my daughter’s fingernails. The meeting is going to take place whether I think about it or not. Why am I still thinking about it?
I suppose recognizing I have a problem is the first step. But how do I completely change my way of thinking? I’ve been living in the future but I want a new address. I know it is impossible to live in the moment all of the time. Unwittingly, our minds will always skip ahead to tomorrow. There’s too much to do, too much to know.
The only person I know who truly lives in the moment is my three year old daughter. Her little mind is never worried about what craft she is going to make tomorrow at day care or whether she has milk in her sippy cup. She just has fun doing what she’s doing at any given moment. I know she won’t be this carefree forever. One day she will start thinking and fretting about tomorrow. It will start small—who will she sit with at lunch? Will a boy notice her in the hallway? Eventually, her world and her tomorrows will get bigger and she will have more to think about—college, marriage, career, her own kids. And while some amount of planning and thinking about the future is healthy, I don’t want it to consume her like it does me. So I’m going to set a better example.
First of all, I need to be less available by phone, text and email. These things interrupt and distract me—constantly pulling me away from the moment. I’m constantly hearing phantom email and text notifications. Turning the phone on vibrate only makes me check it more often because I’m afraid I have missed something. This has to stop. When I am away from work, I need to be away from work. I’m going to start leaving the phone behind sometimes. Just don't get all pissy when I don't return your texts right away!
Also, I need to acknowledge the future when it arrives. When all of the things I wished and worried for actually do happen, do I ever stop to appreciate them? No. I immediately start worrying and wishing for the next big thing. It’s exhausting.
I’m not big into meditating and all of that, but yoga seems to be helpful. I’m going to start going to classes again. Concentrating on movements and balance forces me to be present in the class. Although it’s hard and I’m not always enjoying myself, it is a good mental exercise. Sometimes I am concentrating on the BO that is coming off of the Hippie next to me who hasn't shaved her armpits EVER. But at least I'm not thinking about tomorrow.
Running is great for me also. When I start out, my mind is full of things to worry about. When I’m finished, I’m too tired to think about anything! Training for the marathon will give me many, many hours to focus on the poetic genius of Kanye West and Jay-Z instead of a conference call that is happening later.
In the half hour it took me to type this blog, I didn’t worry about tomorrow. I just enjoyed writing out my thoughts. Right now, I am content.
PS—Don’t even think about calling me and leaving a voicemail tomorrow saying you need to talk to me about “something.”
This is one of my favorite blogs that you have written....very wise little grasshopper.
Post a Comment