When you’re sick you only have one concern: feel better now.
When you feel unhappy with your current situation, you dream of a better future or think of about how you screwed it up last time you were happy.
When you’re happy it’s easier to enjoy the moment and even joke about your past mess ups and have a fun time planning the future. But none of it deters your happiness in the present moment.
So that leaves you with two options for how to be present: get really sick or be happy.
I like to be happy, so I choose the latter.
Over the course of my battles with depression and severe anxiety (the type of anxiety where you throw up every time you are talking on the phone) I have come across a few techniques and stories which help me to enjoy the present moment.
1. Understand that the glass is already broken.
I read a story once about a man who went to India in search for his truth, whatever that is. He wanted answers. He stumbled upon a teacher and over the course of his time there, he grew amazed at how content this man was. The teacher cared about and respected everything and everybody.
Curious as to how this teacher moulded into this standard of thought and, as some would say, enlightenment, he asked, “How are you so content every moment?”
The teacher looked down and pointed to his glass of water.
“This cup is already broken,” he said. “If I knock it over and it breaks, I simply say, ‘of course.’”
“One day this cup holding my water will not be a cup anymore. It is already broken and, because it is broken, I cherish each moment I have with the cup.”
Everything ends. Everything.
Understanding that makes you grateful for the moment you currently experience. People die, this article will one day vanish from existence, and this planet we live on will be gone too. It all ends. I don’t say this to be a downer; I say this to spread the message of being grateful and cherishing every moment you have while you are alive.
2. A quick blast of meditation does wonders.
I’ve tried everything. Hour long meditations, chanting meditations, location-specific meditations, waking up at an ungodly hour meditations, all of it. Nothing stuck for me.
I felt like a failure. I always worried I wasn’t doing it right. I would get upset if I spent most of the meditation thinking about stuff and not being “mindless.” It sucked. I sucked.
Then, five months ago, I found a ten minute meditation that has worked like magic.
I have a nice piece of classical music I enjoy playing through my headphones as I sit crossed legged with my back against a wall. I listen and simply focus on my in-breath.
I don’t know why this is the one that has worked the best for me, but it has.
After the ten minutes are up I feel good; I feel focused. It tends to bring me back to the present in a nice, calming fashion. I am very relaxed after this little meditation.
Maybe it can work for you too.
3. Perspective is life’s greatest snake oil salesman.
Is that true? I don’t know. I’m honestly just impressed I came up with that heading.
Perspective guides us a in couple of ways. It preaches that things can always be worse. That’s the popular way to approach perspective.
But things can always be better too. At least, we think they can be. We don’t really know.
We think we know. More money, different job, nicer weather, newer phone, better friends—all of it sounds better in your current state of mind, but would it all really be better?
I know very rich people who are not happy. They can have everything they want, but they’ve become so obsessive over their image, they can’t fully enjoy anything.
Over the course of the last decade, I’ve had well over a dozen different jobs, all of which I liked for three months until I got bored and started looking for a “happier” path.
I live on Vancouver Island, the prettiest area in Canada, but, the other night, I sincerely missed the gigantic thunderstorms I used to see living in the Prairies.
It can always be worse and it can always be better, depending on how we choose to absorb what perspective is to us.
Tell perspective to stop selling you on worse or better for awhile and try to enjoy what you have. Enjoying your reality is far more powerful than enjoying a dream you wish to hopefully come true.
Featured photo credit: Casey Callahan via unsplash.com