Happy “Right Now”

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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:

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 EverAnd 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.

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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.

17 thoughts on “Happy “Right Now”

  1. Your dad always gets up about an hour before I do each morning to make his coffee, read the paper and in silence with no TV on or me to talk to. He says he sits at the table every single moment and looks out on the river and in the timber and is so contented right where he is at that very moment and can’t think of any other place he’d like to be. I have always thought that as his living in the moment and loving it. Although when I get up an hour later, he is already in the next minutes and days of what he plans on doing, but he at least gets “in the moment” for a littl while. It’s really easy for me to live in the moment because I’m not a very active person and only have to plan ahead for when my next “pet sitting” job is. And I love that and always look forward to that, being with the little or big furbabies have made terrific friends with and again will be in that moment when I walk in to their houses. After a week or so, I’m once again ready to go home and be contented in “that moment”.

    1. Thanks Karen! I totally agree with what you said about anxiety. Those are the hardest moments for me to live right now—I’m too proficient at worst-case-scenario’ing everything. 🙂

  2. After I read your blog, I went walking with my music and the first song on my MP3 was “Perfect Day” by Lady Antebellum….it is your blog set to music! If you don’t have it, download it now. Love you, C.

  3. Great post, Kel, and I totally agree – that it’s really hard. 😉 I find myself struggling with this kind of mindfulness especially when I have a camera in my hand. It’s hard to enjoy a moment, really fully let it envelope you, inhabit your being, when you’re trying to snap the best shot of “it.” Whether it’s furry little critters of wingy things or anything else, a beautiful sunset, a rainbow, motocycles whizzing by, I tend not to enjoy the moments I capture as much as I feel I should.

    So with that issue in mind, I make a point to keep the camera down by my side for at least a few minutes at a time to really absorb what’s happening in front of me. Really experience the experience. I’ve been doing more of that and less shooting and I really like it. Experiences make us who we are, not things.

    Months ago, I was meditating for a while then stopped, but I think I’m going to start again. Did you find a program or form of meditation you could work with? I remember you were looking for something a while back, but I didn’t follow up to see what you’d found.

    Also, in keeping with the objective of nowness, well sort of, I saw a post from Liz Gilbert the other day (yesterday?) about her Happiness Jar. You get a jar and write down at least one thing a day that made you happy. It doesn’t have to be a major thing, just something that made you feel good in that moment.

    Write it down, put it in the jar and keep accumulating for as long as you want. When you’re having a bad day, reach in and pull one (or a bunch) out to read and remember that at least one thing made you happy even on a shitstack kind of day. I love this idea and went out today to get us a happiness jar and I already have my “moment” on paper in it. Which is good because the way this day started, I wanted to murder people. It got better, but dayum. Everything that could go wrong, did. I sit here now, clinging to my moment. 😉

    There were a lot of experiences last year that added to my happiness. One of the best was “meeting” you. Most recently it was going to the Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Extravaganza. Absolutely amazing show. I LOVE that music. Love to swing dance. In fact, that is one of my goals this year (oooops, there I go looking to the next moment, but hey – I need my goals!) to dance more. Swing & hip-hop on the top of the list. We’re going to a couple hip hop classes next week – one at Debbie Reynolds and one at Millenium (where Wade Robson and a bunch of other choreographers and dancers from SYTYCD worked) so it’s a lil’ intimidating, but I don’t care. Ima put my big girl pants on a show ’em how it’s done. Or something. I’ll let you know how it goes. 😉 But you can be damn sure I’m gonna be livin’ in the moment.

    Thanks for a great post and reminder to be mindful, Kel. Hugs.
    Kelly Byrne recently posted…Friends and Other Alien ArtifactsMy Profile

    1. You’re hilarious, Kel! I think your tendency to shoot instead of just watch is similar to my compulsion to continually add to my Safari reading list—I’m too f’ing afraid I’m going to miss something. I imagine you walk the same kind of tightrope when you have your camera in your hand.

      And yes, I did land on a meditation practice that worked for me: 8-Minute Meditation. As long as I’m actually working it, that is, which I’ve slacked off on for a couple of months. Doing Morning Pages also is a kind of meditation (I keep starting to type “medication” instead!!) and a daily writing practice—two birds, one calm-generating stone. I’m also going to give yoga a shot…I am so inflexible and out of shape it’s not funny. Again, two birds, one stone. I saw Gilbert’s post on that memory jar too, which seems really cool and easy. Put it somewhere you can see it multiple times per day then you’ll remember to do it.

      I love your bravery in putting on your big girl pants and getting your dance on—Debbie Reynolds and Millennium?? Jesus, girl!! But hell, at our age we need to start with the best…don’t have the time or patience to work our way up into the big leagues. I wish you the best of luck, with a tad bit of envy. I miss dancing so much!

      Hugs to you too!

      1. It’s exactly that tightrope walk. Don’t want to miss THE shot, just like you (and I) don’t want to miss that ONE blog post that will be the answer to life, the universe, and everything. (42 – my age! It’s me! I’m the answer…for another 5 months.) 😉

        8 minute meditation – that’s awesome. What a ko-ink-ee-dink that the music/ meditation sounds I listen to when I meditate is exactly 8 minutes as well. It’s Native American flute over the sound of a babbling brook. Don’t judge. It makes my inner strumph happy. 😉

        Yoga rocks and will get you all bendy in no time. And strong as hell. It’s pretty amazing. I’m so happy you’re still doing morning pages too. Most definitely a meditative practice. Look at you all Zen and shit.

        And you’re right – ain’t nobody got time f’dat. I’m too damn old to mess around with silly nonsense and inferior teachings. Get me on the fast track to So You Think You Can Dance, damn it! lol Wish you were here to go with us, but I’ll keep you posted.
        Kelly Byrne recently posted…Friends and Other Alien ArtifactsMy Profile

  4. I totally agree Kelly. Live in the moment. There’s something to be said about that. Not always easy to do. Yet, it does take some stress off our back and keeps the worry at bay. I’m not into New Years Eve stuff. Yes, it’s a new year. But I want to be grateful for everyday. Even though that day may suck, I’m alive. I’m here in the now, grateful for every second I have to live. Great post girl! *high five* 🙂

    1. Thanks Karen! After my husband proposed to me on New Year’s Eve 15 years ago, some of the shine of New Year’s Eve night has dulled—can’t really compete with that. 🙂

      And the thing I like about trying to live in the moment is you can start over, like every moment vs. waiting for “the big resolution day” once per year. I’m all about the do-overs.

  5. Definitely definitely something I’ll be working on this year too. I’m always working on it, keeping a shorthand diary for that purpose, finding the joy in each day to remember. For Christmas a friend gave me a ‘memories’ book – it’s basically a diary, one page per day, where you write down a memory for the day, but the funky thing is that it houses five years on one page – so each day of each year for five years, you’re writing below your memory from the same day the year/s before…

    Here’s wishing you so much happiness right now as well 🙂
    Sara Litchfield recently posted…Survival Of The ChristmasMy Profile

    1. Oooh, Sara, I’ve heard of that memory book! That sounds so cool! I wouldn’t be surprised if I have an article or blog post about it in my Safari reading list. You have to do it and let me know how it goes…be my trailblazer! Here’s to finding your happiness in the content of your moments!

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