I love a good “what an awesome 2014 and can’t wait for 2015” post like everyone else. There’s something about humans collectively stopping to mentally review the past year and project their “coming attractions,” the best bits of how we all hope the next twelve months will play out. There are very few times when we can feel this kind of connected moment among the billions of people on our Earth.
Some of us have clever and magical ways to capture and/or reflect on the significant points of the year:
- Lou Morgan unscrews the lid to her memory jar.
- A group of women in Alabama brings out their burning bowl.
- Facebook flips the switch on their dandy “Year in Review” algorithm, although that didn’t work out for all of us. The opening photo in my pre-formatted montage was a picture of me and my cousin…my cousin who committed suicide in November. Thankfully my aunt and uncle aren’t on Facebook, although their daughters are. I can’t imagine.
But here’s what I’m proposing: How about instead of trying to stuff in a year’s worth of moments into one night, no matter how ceremonious and celebratory, we spend a couple of seconds reveling in each significant or simple moment…as it’s happening?
How about if we take a few minutes at the end of each day, maybe just before we drift off to sleep, and instead of running through the lists of everything we have to do the next day, we acknowledge the beauty of what we experienced within the past hours of our waking lives?
How about if we force ourselves to find a single shiny needle of gratitude in the shit-coated haystack of our day?
This is a big deal to me. I have a huge problem living in the moment and not traveling to the past or fretting about the future. I wrote a few posts this year about trying to be more present in my life (I’m Listening…Not!, How I Discovered The Most Serene Retreat Ever, And So It Begins), about how noticing what’s happening as it’s happening doesn’t just allow you to fully experience that moment, it can also help rip you from the gnashing jaws of anxiety or insomnia. And who wouldn’t want that?
I read a thought-provoking article last year about how people can get the most bang for their buck by buying experiences, not things. The article reminds us that a ton of psychology research has shown that experiences bring people more happiness than possessions. And the author quotes psychologist Matthew Killingsworth as saying that “happiness is in the content of moment-to-moment experiences.”
With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
But here’s the problem: If we don’t actually live our experiences as they’re happening, if we spend that time mentally being any place other than where we are, then we’re robbing ourselves of our own happiness. Aren’t there enough people and situations in our lives all too willing to pickpocket our joy without us helping them out?
So while I do wish you a happy new year, my greatest wish and hope for you is happiness in this “right now.” Resolve to do that, and 2015 will be the best year ever.
So what about you? How do you acknowledge your “right now” moments (and watching them through your smart phone doesn’t count…put it down people!)? How good are you at living in the moment? Tell me about one experience from 2014 that added to your happiness.