“The dog lives for the day, the hour, even the moment.”
– Robert Falcon Scott
Yesterday, while my husband and I chatted on the deck, the dogs lay near us, basking in the sun, Wilma chewing on a stick.
For some reason, the image of a dog packing up boxes for a move popped into my head. I thought about how little “stuff” a dog would bring – maybe a crate, a blanket, a tennis ball and a bone.
Wilma, would need a sweater for winter, and Mr. Wilson would pack his stuffed moose.
It would, however, be an easy move. For the most part, our dogs care little about material things beyond those necessary for survival.
They appreciate the simple pleasures. They’re living in the moment, content being near the people they love, playing at the dog park or sniffing every fire hydrant on their walk.
Our cat delights in cuddling with us in bed, lying in a patch of sunlight streaming through a window and swatting a milk-jug lid across the kitchen floor.
Why do we humans “need” so much more to be happy?
“Be Here Now.”
– Ram Dass
Let’s say you’re sitting on your front porch with a cup of peppermint tea after dinner.
Maybe you’re lamenting that your mom didn’t live long enough to see your baby’s first steps, fuming about a co-worker’s comment last week or comparing your old grill to the stainless steel behemoth you saw at your neighbor’s barbecue.
Maybe you’re worried about the planned lay-offs at your company, wishing you didn’t have to go to work tomorrow (or ever again) or dreading cleaning out the garage.
Whatever you’re thinking about, you’re probably not noticing – much less appreciating – the cool breeze, your toddler’s laugh, the lavender’s fragrance, your spouse’s hand in yours or even the taste of your tea. You’re too busy mentally multi-tasking to enjoy the good things right in front of you.
To be happy, we have to take a cue from our pets and learn to live in the moment more often. We need to count our blessings and express our gratitude for the love and beauty in our lives.
“Do not allow your spirit to be softened of your happiness to be limited by a day you cannot have back or a day that does not yet exist.”
None of us will succeed in always living in the present.
Even if we could, it probably wouldn’t work out very well. To live as humans, we need both to reflect on our experiences and plan for the future.
The problem is that we let many of life’s beautiful moments pass us by while we’re feeling sad or angry about the past or anxious about the future.
How can we change?
Although eventually you can work up to living in the moment more often, I found it easiest to do at first while I was relaxing.
What do you see, hear, smell and feel? Which of those things make you feel good?
I’m out on the deck and just took a break from working on this post. I enjoyed the warmth of the sun, the smell of newly mown grass and the sight of the mason bees flying in and out of the bamboo blinds. I listened to the goats baa and chickens cluck.
Once you’re able to live in the moment while you’re relaxing, try paying close attention when people talk to you – not thinking about what you’re going to cook for dinner or even what you’re going to say next. Just listen.
Next, work your way up to thinking about cooking when you’re cooking and mopping when you’re mopping.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
– The Bible (NRS), Matthew 6:34
People often think of Buddhism when they think of living in the moment, but other religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam – as well as many nonreligious people – prize living in the moment and being grateful for what we have.
As with decluttering our physical stuff, I believe decluttering our minds is a gradual process. If you’re like me, it will take at least a few months of practice before spending at least a few minutes every day living in the moment becomes natural for you.
“Living in the moment, living our life, easy and breezy, with peace in my mind; with peace in my heart”
– Jason Mraz
How do you practice living in the moment? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section or contact me.