By: David Swartz
This New Year I made the resolution to be more present in life. I’m not even sure what that entails but I must admit it does sound good. With this blog I’m going to try to touch on a few points of what it means to be more present and what steps to take in order to accomplish it.
A few weeks ago, I picked up a friend’s book and read a couple of chapters of what I would call a self empowerment book. In the first few pages there was a statement that went something like this, “Those who are anxious or worried are thinking about the future and those that are depressed or sad are living in the past.” I thought that was a pretty good way to sum up how many of us live on a day to day basis..
Why do we put so much emphasis on the past and the future when all we have is the present? Is this the way the human mind works? Do animals live more in the present? I’m pretty sure my canine companions aren’t thinking about how upset they made me by eating the dead animal carcass earlier in the day and then going to do the same thing that evening. I can’t tell you how many times I have to raise my voice at them to get them come to me. At first they come in with heads hung low then minutes later go back to doing the same thing forgetting completely what just happened. As annoying as this is at times, it makes me wonder if we can learn something from their ability to be present. Plus, it’s hard to be too frustrated with these faces..
At least in modern society I believe humans have a huge problem with living in the present. Here in our country and in many other western nations there is a tendency to have a lot of outside pressure starting from an earlier age such as the need to get good grades in school, get into college or get a good job, get a raise or promotion at that job, find a spouse, buy a house, start a family. No wonder many of us walk around anxious or depressed for most of our lives. If we are lucky to live long enough and be fortunate enough, it isn’t until our later years in life until we finally have time to relax. Why should we have to wait until retirement until we can take a breather and enjoy life?
And, the problem is getting worse.
In the last decade or so we now have the ability to have all of the electronic information in this world at our fingertips with the ability to contact anyone anywhere with the touch of a button. For all the convenience the modern smart phone has brought us, it has made us even more anxious and depressed. I will admit that I do not have a Facebook, Instagram, or a Twitter account, and if you tried to call me, most of the time my phone is on silent so I won’t hear it. There is no living in the present when posting every detail of your day to a website while looking at all the details of everyone else’s day. Eventually the day will be over before any actual living is done.
So starting this New Year I would like to be more present. When I’m out skiing, biking, hiking, or doing whatever for that matter, I will try to look up more. Looking up at the sky is a great way to make time stop and let all the meaningless chatter in our life subside for a few moments. When in the company of friends and family, I will try even harder to really listen to them about their issues and be there for them when needed. While being present, no project or task is too difficult or overwhelming. The day becomes exciting the possibilities become endless.
Happy New Year
May 2017 bring peace and stillness to all earthlings.