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Living in the Moment

What does it mean to live in the moment? This is a question I recently have spent a lot of time pondering. After a recent death in a friend’s family, I faced these hard questions myself. Am I where I want to be in life right now? What if I died tomorrow? Can I confidently say that I lived in the moment and actually took the time to enjoy life?

In thinking about those questions, I was faced with a lot of hard truths. I wasn’t where I wanted to be. Death has a way of throwing what’s important in your life, square in your face. I struggled to grapple with how I should dedicate my time. Being a young adult, there’s a pressure to constantly move up in life. You’re told to graduate college, find a job you love, get married, buy a house, get a new car, start a family. Every single one of those achievements are massive and hard to accomplish. Each time I was able to check one off of the list, it felt like it was time to move onto the next big endeavor. In doing so, I’ve realized that I stopped living in the moment. Life is flying by faster than ever and I would love to hit the pause button. But how?

I’ve recently spent some time watching various speakers talk about success and happiness; the message that keeps standing out to me is such a simple, repeatable behavior. Those who are most successful at maintaining happiness are the ones that practice gratitude. I realized that I haven’t allowed myself any time to just pause and think about all the great things I have in life, at this very moment.

A gratitude practice can look different for different people. These are some of the practices I have found helpful in cultivating and maintaining a gratitude practice:

  1. Making time every other day to be in silence for at least 30 minutes (no distractions). Some may refer to this as meditating but it has given me the opportunity to clear my head so that I can make space to think about what I am actually thankful for.
  2. Before sleep, review my successes of each day and what I’m thankful for. Each day may look a little different. Some days I may be thankful for a big accomplishment, how hard I’ve worked, or my ability to simply take a breath.
  3. Spend time watching the sun go down (I do a lot of thinking here).
  4. Prayer.

I can’t pause life, but I can pause myself and dedicate time to thinking about all the things I can be grateful for. Since realizing that I have control of my pause button, I’ve noticed a lot of the stress that I was carrying has melted away. I’ve been able to just enjoy the moment and be. I feel happier, and I feel alive.