Why is it so hard for us to let go of our worries and anxieties, to let go of our need to control everything?
Why is it so difficult for us to live in the present? Why must we always imagine ourselves in the past or the future?
Over the weekend I read a post by Amanda Watters on her lovely blog Homesong in which she discussed the joys of a slow life, especially at home. Something that a lot of us strive to achieve in our day-to-day lives or maybe think is too difficult to have in this fast-paced world. When information and material items are literally at our fingertips, it is understandable why it can be hard to slow down.
As I was reading her post, I was filled with peace and relaxation as she described some of her daily activities with her children and important practices within their family.
I would consider my family to be one that strives to live simply and slowly. I say strives because it is a continuous process that changes depending on a variety of factors. But overall, we do abide by certain habits or practices that we believe to be beneficial to our family and the growth of our slow and simple living.
Yet while I aim to make this a lifestyle goal, there are often times when I am not fully content with it.
The day after I read Amanda’s post, the deacon at our parish said this phrase in his Sunday homily: “If you’re living a life of depression, you’re living in the past. If you’re living a life of anxiety, you’re living in the future. If you’re living a life of peace, you’re living in the present.”
These words have been floating around in my head since I heard them on Sunday morning. It’s a call to change my life for the better. I have been challenged by these words because, as I shared with my husband that afternoon, I consider myself to usually be living a life of either depression or anxiety. I’m either focusing on my life in the past and wanting elements of it back or I’m focusing on my life in the future and what it could be, what I hope it will be, and how much of it I can control.
Though I don’t believe that I am intentionally choosing to place my focus on things other than the present. Personally, I struggle with trying not to be swayed into comparing my life (or things within it) to someone else’s. Unfortunately, social media or “gossip” with friends feeds this tension. But, why should I be swayed? I have been blessed quite a bit in my life.
After reflecting on the words I read and heard this weekend, I came to realize that my focus each day needs to be on being completely content with everything I do have. This is the only way that I will truly be able to live in the present and be at peace. And it is something that I so crave — for myself and my well-being as well as for my family.
I want our daughter to grow up knowing that it is okay to have less than others and still be happy; that the love within our family is abundant and true; that her health is more important than any material wealth; that her parents are happy, content, and at peace with their slow and simple lifestyle.
With this new focus, I hope to be able to create new routines, habits, and practices in our home to ensure that all of us are living in the present at much as possible. Beginning and ending the day with prayers of thanksgiving, taking time to myself to work creatively or read about a subject of which I’m passionate, and creating family activities which will allow us to bond deeply are just a few of the practical steps that I want to make set in stone and routine for our home life.
I think this shift of focus will change the energy within our home and I hope we will be much more appreciative and able to live peacefully.
So now I turn the focus to you, dear reader. Do you struggle with living in the present? Is your mind often focused on the past or chasing after the future? Are there any habits or practices in your life that you have in order to keep your mind focused on the present? This week I plan to borrow The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer from the library and I am really excited to read it. Do you have any favorite book recommendations that focus on living in the present and in peace? I would be happy to hear any of your truths, wisdoms, and practices regarding this subject.
I leave you with this quote that my husband shared with me this morning from the Dalai Lama that pretty much sums this up: “And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
May you find peace in your life so as to live in the present, always.