There’s a saying out there that “yesterday is the past, tomorrow is the future, and today is a gift so that’s why they call it the present.”” I used to dismiss it every time I heard it because it sounded kind of cheesy to me, but the older I get the more I realize every day really is a gift. Focusing on the past doesn’t do anything for you because you can’t change what happened back then. And looking toward the future, while a nice idea is just that — an idea — unless you use the gift of today to do something that’s going to get you that life you want “someday.”
The question is … why can’t someday be today?
The truth is someday can be today if we let it. If we stop and think about it, today and all its moments are the building blocks of that future that we say we want. Learning to live in the moment and taking the actions we know we should be taking will start us on the road to living our best life in the now instead of somewhere down the road.
Take One Step Forward
I started reading Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project” awhile back. And although I haven’t finished it yet, one line right near the first when she is setting out her commandments for happiness really stuck in my mind.
“Do what ought to be done.”
How many times do we put off living and doing what we know we should be doing, in order to goof off and go in a totally different direction where we know darn well that it’s not going to give us the result we’re looking for.
That commandment was like a wake up call for me because I’m great at procrastinating at what ought to be done so that I can read a book, sit down and watch a race, or even just take a day off to wander around outside. Even though the writing, the marketing, and even the laundry doesn’t get done … in that moment it’s more important to me to procrastinate than to do what I know I should be doing. That’s definitely not living my best life.
Since I’ve borrowed Gretchen’s commandment for myself, and have been practicing doing what I know has to be done each day before I get to the book, the race, or the great outdoors I am living better, more things are getting done at the right moments, and I am living a much better life than I was when I was the queen of all procrastinators.
The funny thing is, that once you start taking action and doing those little things you know need to be done, you start seeing yourself as more successful, more deserving of, and able to live your best life. Whether it’s another article published, or just knowing that your favorite shirt is clean when you want to wear it … these are things that a successful person would have and since you now have them, it’s one more way you are living that successful life you want. Little things like this make you feel like you’re living a better life even though the big picture might not have changed much at all.
Grow Your Results
You can then multiply those feelings by using tools such as meditation and visualization to really get your present moment energy flowing. (You knew I was going to fit those in here somewhere didn’t you?)
Let’s start with visualization. When you’re basking in the glow of having done what needs to be done in the moment, see yourself as successful in the future because of the actions you have taken today. Really let yourself feel how successful you are, how your life has changed for the better, and how you are living the life of your dreams right at this minute.
And be proud of yourself for taking the step you know you had to take this day to get to where you ultimately want to be. Then harness the energy and the momentum you create and realize that in doing so you are living your life to the fullest in this moment.
Adding meditation into the mix allows you to slow down and really revel how you are feeling at that moment. That’s because meditation is all about being in the moment and not having to think about the future or the past. When you meditate you have no choice but to see your best life now because you are focused only on this moment. If the past and the future cease to exist while you are in the present, then this is your best life. Use what you see and feel during your meditation to your best advantage.
Enjoy the Journey
Above all, don’t forget to enjoy the journey. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Another saying I’ve always been kind of partial to is “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans” (John Lennon).
It doesn’t have to be that way. Plans are good. Goals are good. But living your best life each moment of each day is even better. Because we don’t know which day will be our last, today really is a gift. Accept the gift and live it the best way you know how today.