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Contentment is in the Right Now

July 24, 2022 by  
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There are so many things in our lives that we view as priorities — many, many things. There are obvious ones like getting an education, finding a good job, staying in good health, and taking care of the ones you love, including parents, siblings, your spouse, kids, grandkids, and friends. And you want to be sure you have time and energy to pursue the things you love in life as well.

All those things are so important and critical to a good life and even a great life. But many of those items can be thrown off track if we lack contentment and satisfaction. And, I think, there’s one big thing that gives us great contentment — living in the “right now”.

Of course, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, for us to always “live in the now”. Our busy lives distract us, causing us to worry and contemplate what’s coming next. But, I think, our greatest contentment and satisfaction comes from living in the now, so it’s important to make that a priority, too. Luckily, there are easy ways to help us spend more of our mind time living in those right now moments.

  • On a regular basis, ask yourself, “Am I at ease at this moment and living in the now?”
  • Visit the future but don’t stay there. Keep coming back to the right now.
  • Visit the past but don’t bring back any regret or guilt.
  • Make a habit of monitoring your mental and emotional state through self-observation.
  • When you are stressed, stop, pause, take a big deep breath and count in your mind. That’s right. Just count numbers. You can start at 1 and count to 500 or start at 100 or 500 and work backwards. Then refocus on living in the now.
  • Buddha said, “The root of suffering is found in our constant wanting and craving…” so let’s all work at reducing our wanting and craving so aren’t as anxious and can be more present.

Of course, living in the now should be a priority, but you also want to prioritize those things that require planning. The question is, how do you stay in the moment while planning, dreaming, goal setting, and doing all those things that help you get what you want out of life?

Well, you can go ahead and set future plans, dreams and goals, but once they are determined, write them down. That way, when you don’t need them, you can physically set them aside until you want to work on them or need reminders to keep focused. So, as you see, it’s not that you can’t think about the past or the future, but rather that you need to be aware of how much you do think about things that are not part of the moment you are living right now.

Awareness of what your mind is doing is a big part of living in the right now moment. When you are aware of what your mind is doing, you can steer it back to the right now after you give yourself the time to plan future things or momentarily ponder the past. Once you have, try to become totally absorbed in what you are doing, thinking, or being right now and enjoy the contentment that comes with it.

Mindful Aging

December 26, 2021 by  
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Wow, the end of 2021 is already here, just a few more days. Time is such an interesting thing and I find it fascinating that the passage of time seems to change its speed depending on your age and/or things you have planned in your life. When most of us were young, anxious to be old enough to get our driver’s license, time seemed to be moving so very, very slowly. I remember counting down the days until I could get mine. But things do change, especially when you get older.

At my age now, just a little more than 3 months until I hit 78, the years seem to speed up. I can remember, easily, the new year’s celebration I was at last year at my good tennis friend Al Ficker’s house in Kauai. It’s like it was just a couple of months ago. Wow, this year just flew by in a flash.

I am re-reading the great book by Jo Ann Jenkins called Disrupt Aging. I’ve written and talked about her book in previous posts. There are so many good and smart things she says about “really owning your age” and being proud of whatever that age number is. I loved her quote about a woman who said, “No one’s going to deprive me of my age.”

Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Encore.org, and author of The Big Shift wrote, “In Disrupt Aging, Jenkins offers the generational call to action we’ve been waiting for—to break free from outmoded ideas about age, to embrace the rich possibilities present in the decades opening up beyond fifty, and to join a growing movement of individuals determined to live lives infused with purpose. Beautifully written, full of humor and inspiration, and powerfully argued, this book offers the definitive map for making the most of the longevity revolution, as individuals and as a nation.”

Jo Ann has so many good thoughts and ideas for our lives as we age, such as:

  • The best life includes contributing to the well-being of others.
  • Try new things and take chances…don’t live in fear of aging.
  • Focus on health, wealth and self. 
  • This is a time to shift from “mindless aging” to mindful living.

If you are retired now, take a hard look at your life and determine your thoughts about aging. How can you age more mindfully? And if you are not retired yet, then it’s a good time to start making plans for what you are going to do when retired. Yes, write it down, make lists, set priorities and write down your future schedule. You’ll be glad you did when you finally retire.

And when you do retire, as well as right now, be sure to strive for always living in the right now moment!

Mindful Health

October 3, 2021 by  
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Most of us have some health-related goal or area of improvement that we are working on, or hope to work on, very soon. But how do you know you will be successful? One way is to keep yourself mentally and physically aware while exercising and eating by using a “living in the now” approach. You can get you through a strenuous workout as well as help you eat right, all while increasing your enjoyment of these activities by simply being present and more aware of what you are doing.

For most of us, getting through an exercise routine is a struggle, but if you are completely attentive to your movements instead of thinking about how you can’t keep up an exercise routine, or how much nicer it would feel to be lounging on the couch, you aren’t as likely to quit in the middle of it. Just keep focused on the feeling of your muscles moving and listen to your breath as you control your inhaling and exhaling. This is a primary concept behind yoga and its distressing effects. Soon enough, you will have completed your routine or finished that 30-minute run and are feeling great.

When it comes to food, it’s all about being mindful of what you eat, how much, and the way you eat. For instance, when you reach in the fridge for something, consciously decide what will contribute to a well-balanced intake for the day and choose your best options, not just what looks tasty. Also, stop eating directly out of the box or bag. Instead, set a small portion on a plate or a bowl that you can sit down with as you savor every bite.

Eat in a place with no TV or computer or anything else to distract you. Taste your food, becoming aware of every flavor and texture, and chew it completely. This will make eating even more enjoyable. Slowing down your intake of food will also allow your stomach time to tell the brain it’s getting full. This way, you’re more likely to eat less. Additionally, thorough chewing will help your digestion by having food well broken down before it hits your stomach.

“Living in the now” will help you by not only increasing your appreciation of the sensations of exercising and eating, but will also help you attain your goals for a better, healthier life. You’ll feel great because of your accomplishments, along with gaining the long lasting and compounding effects of the bliss that comes with being consistently happy in the moment.

Quality Living is in the Moment

July 18, 2021 by  
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With age, and the experience of achieving great success, it has become glaringly clear that wealth, power, status, fame, possessions, etc. do not, by themselves, add anything significant to the actual quality of our lives. Yes, I find having wealth is nice and allows me to do many wonderful things like travel a great deal. I do thoroughly enjoy many of my physical possessions, like my house and all the bits and pieces my wife has brought in to make it a home. These things, however, are not how I measure how well I live.

Most of what makes a life worth living cannot be bought or collected. They can only be found in the experiences you have, what you give to others, what you accept, and how you choose to look at the world. It’s those many small steps that make up the journey that determine the true importance of the destination, not the destination itself.

If your ‘destination’ is great wealth, gaining that wealth will only be important if you’ve lived well, struggled often, and celebrated your small successes along the way. This is why lottery winners almost always end up unhappy. There is no journey, no sense of success, and no memories that make up the path to their wealth. The money just becomes a condition of their life, not something that engages their sense of personal achievement.

This idea brings together much of what I’ve been talking about these past few weeks — that your quality of life is made up of what you experience in the great right now. You want to live in the moment and choose to be happy or your life will be made of many disappointing moments, making the whole of your life disappointing as well.

Also, don’t forget to look for joy in the wonderful act of giving to others. Generous, kind acts will infuse your life with the kind of treasures that you could never buy or fabricate — they can only be given. When you give, you’ll often find that even more is given back to you.

Go ahead. Go for the wealth and the status and whatever else you dream of. Just remember to live a quality life along the way, and keep up your passion for living, not just for the future life you’re after.

Beautiful Mindfulness

July 11, 2021 by  
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Recently, I re-read Pema Chödrön’s great book, Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change. It got me thinking again about the human mind and how our thinking can be super helpful or just terrible for us.

It’s so very, very important that we try to “live in the now” as much as we can. It’s not easy but we do need to keep working at it because it really can lift our life and happiness.

In last week’s blog, I talked about meditation and how important and helpful it can be for our lives. Pema says in Living Beautifully that, “Meditation is one form of mindfulness, but mindfulness is called by many names: attentiveness, nowness, and presence are just a few. Essentially, mindfulness means wakefulness–fully present wakefulness.”

I totally agree with her.

She goes on to say that, “The specific details of our lives will, of course, differ, but for all of us, wakefulness concerns everything from how we make dinner to how we speak to one another to how we take care of our clothes, our floors, our forks and spoons. Just with other aspects of this commitment, we’re either present when putting on our sweater or tying our shoes or brushing our teeth, or we’re not. We’re either awake or asleep, conscious or distracted.”

Later she says, in reference to creating a comfortable life that this, “means setting up your life so that you have time for meditation and self-reflection, for kindhearted, compassionate self-honesty”. Those things and thoughts are so very important to our happiness. We all need to put a lot of effort into really living in the present moment. Doing that can lift our mood and our life tremendously.

To help me with this, I’ve made a list of what I call My 10 Natural Mood Boosters:

1. Get into a routine

2. Set goals

3. Exercise

4. Eat healthy

5. Get enough sleep

6. Take on responsibilities

7. Challenge negative thoughts

8. Take good supplements

9. Do something new

10. Try to have fun

I’d like to add one extra thing that has always worked for me when I am feeling down. It’s so simple — just go outside and take a walk to anywhere, although a place that’s new for you is best. And yes, it’s very important to live in the now as much as you can—you will be glad and much happier if you do this as often as possible!

Lift Your Life — Focus on the Present

July 4, 2021 by  
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One of the best ways to increase happiness in your life, and therefore maintain and lift your passion, is to stay in the present.

This can be challenging for most of us, if not all of us, when things are stressful. Most of the time we are worried about the past or the future and not really paying attention to what is happening right now, so we miss life as it is happening. That can make it tough to live passionately in that “right now” time and place.

Living this way takes practice. You have to train your brain to live in the moment. It’s something I’ve worked to achieve all my life. It is easier now than when I started, but it still takes a concerted effort. It is, however, more than worth it.

As you learn how to redirect your thoughts and focus on the present, it’s important not to be hard on yourself. (Take a look at my previous blog where I talk about good ole USA—not the country but “Unconditional Self-Acceptance”!) Just keep working at it and when you get cut off, when your mind wanders, take the time to steer your thoughts and yourself back to the present.

Yoga and/or meditation are ways that we all can practice keeping our focus on the present moment, making us happier and more content. Yoga and meditation are way underrated in this country. They can be such great tools and you don’t need to go to a gym or studio to do either.

For instance, you can do yoga at home with tools such as the Yoga for Beginners with Patricia Walden DVD or through videos found on websites such as Yoga with Adriene. There are also many websites designed to help coach you and I on the best ways to meditate, such as Mindful.org. Even just 10 minutes a day on either of these can make an enormous difference in your life.

Keep practicing and you will lift your life and get better at it the more you do it. You’ll be amazed at how much spending even just 10 minutes a day focusing on the present can increase your life and happiness factor. It’s the real deal!

Our Short Lives Needs Big Passion

September 13, 2020 by  
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I just asked a printer to print a couple thousand copies of my book, How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, since I ran out of copies to sell or give away. I was reading a bit of what I wrote many years ago and I was surprised to realize that the words in that book were reigniting my passion, so I wanted to share some of those words with you.

Let me start with Chapter 2 which is entitled, “Short Life needs BIG Passion”.

  • Life really is too darn short to live without passion.
  • Time squandered is wasted–gone forever!
  • Don’t be like those who, later in life, realize that they missed out on so many opportunities. I believe most people, when looking back at their lives, are in more pain over the things they didn’t do than over things they failed at while trying to do them.
  • We receive long-lasting benefit, and yes, even deep satisfaction from working hard and giving something worthwhile our all.
  • There are many who think the way to achieve satisfaction in life is by going after pleasure. They think that more and more pleasure will put more contentment in their lives. So sorry. It doesn’t work that way.
  • There’s a huge difference between deep, enduring satisfaction and fleeting pleasure; between passion and a good time. At a gut level you already know this. The pursuit of pleasure for its own sake leads to misery.
  • It’s also not easy to always remain at a high level of satisfaction and contentment with an effervescent passion for life. There are plenty of setbacks. Even, at times, huge fists of adversity may pound us in the face.
  • Setbacks and adversity often reveal to us the great lessons of life if we would just learn from them.
  • I’ve certainly had my share of setbacks, even tragedies. I wouldn’t choose to be faced with these tragedies but I must say that, since they did happen, they served as huge life lessons and wake-up calls that I don’t think I could have learned any other way.

Give these words some thought, set big goals, and go after them with all your energy and heart. You won’t be sorry!

 

And if you would like a copy of How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, you can get it here on my website.

 

 

Direct Your Brain

April 12, 2020 by  
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Now, maybe more than ever, it’s so good for all of us that are home bound because of the virus, to live in the present or the “great right now”. There is a very thoughtful, but short and simple poem from John Greenleaf Whittier that makes a very good point:

No longer forward nor behind

I look in hope or fear,

But, grateful, take the good I find,

The best of now and here

Our human minds can do so many great things, but the brain can also do some major damage. We do have a choice, right now, to use our heads to keep us going and in good shape physically and mentally. I’ve seen in the news what I expected and that is a rise in the number of suicides. In addition, unfortunately, the instances of spousal and domestic abuse cases have jumped as well. These people are obviously having difficulties using their brain in a good way.

I did, however, laugh out loud when I read this morning about a guy in England that ran a marathon in his back yard—a very small yard too. That was a lot of circles-especially since his yard was only 20 feet wide. His name is James Campbell and he set his mind to do the huge run to raise money to help fight the coronavirus. I’m sure that thinking about helping other people gave his brain good, positive thoughts which raised his energy level. It’s been proven that your brain really can give you energy.

So now, in these tough days, most of us, being stuck in the house, have plenty of time to plan and set goals for when this is over. Hey, how about doing some detail planning of an exotic trip to Rome or Paris or, if your budget can’t handle that, how about a camping trip and hike in the mountains or even in a nearby open space or campground?

If you have lost some of your passion for life being locked up in your house, you can focus on reviving and getting your passion for living back. First of all, don’t let your brain think about all the stuff you can’t do right now or how you can’t have face to face conversations with friends, co-workers or even some family members. We do all know our social lives are quite important, but our brains can help us out here. Our brain can be our best friend or worst foe and we really can direct our brain to be the way we want it to be.

Ernie J. Zelinski says in his book, The Joy of Not Working, “Fully alive individuals experience the here and now … the more we focus on the past and the future the more we miss the right now. Sadly, we miss most of life’s precious moments because we are so preoccupied with the past and the future.” So, in times like we have right now, we need to use that great brain to think in your present moment. Or, as the author also says, “Being in the now is crucial for living happily, because the present moment is all that you really have.”

If you missed my last week’s post, I would suggest you go back and read my list of the 9 items that are helping me through these stressful times. Plus, I would strongly suggest that you work up your own list to keep your mind and body connected. It will help you lift your spirits and your life.

Our Changes in Fortune

November 3, 2019 by  
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Wow and double wow! I never expected the huge and heartfelt response I received after my closing comment on my last week’s blog, asking people to send their best wishes and love to little 2-year-old Kate who had just been diagnosed with leukemia. So, at minimum I want to take time right now to give a HUGE THANKS to all you beautiful, wonderful people who cared enough to take time to send your heartfelt wishes to little Kate and her family. That means so much to me, her parents, the rest of the family, and to little Kate and her twin sister Ellie. I’m thinking that Kate and her twin sister could feel the love and the caring that was sent to them. I sure could!

We all know that life has its big bumps, surprises, and setbacks. And, yes, it also has many wonderful, fun, exciting, and pleasurable moments as well. It behooves all of us to constantly remember to live in the great “right now” moment. I’ve written a lot about this previously and most people know they should try to live more in the “now moments” and not spend too much time worrying about the future or beating themselves up for the past mistakes and or bad decisions. But, if you are like me, you have to keep reminding yourself to think more in the “now”. That kind of thinking can be very critical for our mental and emotional health and our great enjoyment of life. Meditation can help with this. Meditation works because, if you do it right, you truly are living in the moment!

Knowing all this and preaching it to others, I still wake up worrying about what I need to get done in the immediate or not too distant future as well as fretting a bit over what I missed out on doing yesterday. I have noticed, however, if I take time to write down my next day’s plans and actions the night before I go to sleep, I usually wake up much more likely to just get out of bed and get going on my to do list. My mind seems to be so much clearer and my thoughts are much more positive in the “now moment”.  Of course, we all need to think about the future and make plans, much of which is very fun and exciting like when planning a trip to Disneyland with the kids, or a vacation to Europe, etc. It’s the same with the past – we enjoy taking time (but not too often) to relive our great experiences and the really memorable moments in our life.

Talking about great moments in time… did you read about the older lady in Paris that recently discovered that one of the paintings she had hanging on her walls — one that she wasn’t even particularly wild about — was very, very rare? She sold it for a shocking $26 million dollars. I sure hope she’s not like so many jackpot and lottery winners that have never had a ton of money. So many of them have lost everything years later, making the news again because, not knowing how to handle tons of money, they spent it all and/or were scammed out of it. Whether fortune smiles on us or we have a ton of bad luck thrown at us, we need to learn how to handle our changes in fortune. I want to talk a bit next week about the smarter ways to handle money when good fortune comes your way.

 

Keeping Your Mind in the Moment

August 30, 2019 by  
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Some very wise person once said, “Time is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once.”  I’ve thought about and written quite a lot about this thing called “living in the now”.  I think I keep writing about it because it motivates me to live in the moment more often. As you might have experienced, living in the moment is very hard to stay conscious of and to do on a frequent basis.  But if you concentrate and keep trying to live in the moment, you are likely to do more and more of it.  And yes, I think it’s a great idea to write that down as a goal because, as you probably know, if you commit your goals to paper or on your phone or computer, you are much, much more likely to do it.

In Ernie J. Zelinski’s great book, The Joy of Not Working, under a section titled “Mastering the Moment”, the author says, “In some cultures, a moment can last the entire afternoon. Activities have natural starting and ending times not dictated by the clock. People don’t limit their conversations to fifteen or thirty minutes. Conversations start when they start and end when they end regardless of the number of clocks in the immediately vicinity.”

He goes on to cite a study that I found really surprising, and even a bit shocking. The study and research showed that most couples in North America spend only about 18 minutes a week in real conversation.

Zelinski also noted, “Out of 500 people surveyed by World Tennis magazine in a sex/tennis pool, 54 percent said they think about sex while playing tennis.” Wow, I play a lot of tennis and I don’t think I fit at all in that 54% group. Those tennis players obviously haven’t learned to live in the now, and I am quite certain if they did, they would win a lot more matches. I wonder how many people think about tennis when having sex. I think that might make it much harder to finish the sex round.

Ok, next week I want to write more about Zelinski and give you a few quotes from him and this subject of “living in present moment”, or the way I say it, “living in the great right now”.  I am also, due to feedback from readers, going to move my blog from Friday mornings to Sunday morning. This should give you some time to really ponder the subjects I bring up. So, look for the follow-up to this post next Sunday!

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