I’ve always been a planner. I think most of us are conditioned and raised to be planners, thinkers, and to always focus on the next three steps ahead. This approach of living in a way can be useful. It helps prevent us from being blindsided and getting tripped up. It keeps us accountable, responsible, and keeps our lives in order. But, if you’re always looking beyond what is right in front of you, you’ll also increase your potential of missing the beauty of the present moment. I’ll give you an example.
I recently got a new job and it has many perks and benefits. I’m extremely thankful for this job, but like everything in life there are drawbacks as well. One of the few drawbacks is my schedule. I only receive my schedule for the upcoming week and I receive it just a few days before the week starts. Obviously, this poses some difficulties for a person who likes to plan everything. But, I’ve realized that this is a lesson for me. This job is teaching me (almost forcing me) to enjoy the present moment and to express gratitude for the small things. Rather than worrying about how my schedule is going to come out for the following week and wasting my time stressing about the infinite possibilities, I have to make a conscious choice to focus on the day at hand. That means if I have a Saturday off, I am going to make every second of that day and evening count. I’m not going to think about the fact that I have to go back to work on Sunday. If I don’t have to go into work until 4:00 on the Sunday, then I am not going to think about or be miserable about it during the entire morning and afternoon that I don’t have to be there. I’ll truly enjoy the part of Sunday that’s mine.
Like many people, back when I worked a regular Monday through Friday schedule I got into a bad habit of feeling the Sunday scaries. I would allow the approaching Monday to seep into my Sunday, and feel down in the dumps about my weekend drawing to an end. But, I began to realize that by letting myself think ahead about Monday, I was ruining my Sunday—when Monday hadn’t even come yet! When I could have been happy, joyful, and leisurely, I was choosing to be grumpy, apathetic, and sulky. We always have two choices. So, why do we so often choose suffering?
I think that this happens because we associate thinking about the future with being productive. And, sometimes it is! If we didn’t plan some aspects of our lives, they would completely unravel. Goals are important, deadlines are essential. But, when our thoughts about the future aren’t involved with any planning, just useless “what ifs” that only give us grief, then we cannot attribute that to being productive. We are missing out on the little moments, the small blessings which we can enjoy every day. Everyone has something. While some of us are facing greater hardships than others, each of us can find at least one thing to be grateful for. And, if it really is that difficult to be grateful or happy where you are presently, then that may be an indication that it is time for a change. But, when we focus our attention on the precious little moments, these little successes can only lead to bigger and greater successes.