Enjoy Now

I absolutely love my work as a therapist!  I feel so blessed to be able to do what I love, working with real people, on issues that really matter!

Even so, the other week, I was really looking forward to my day off from seeing clients.   I had two thoughts:  (1) Perhaps I could slow down and relax a little (I was very tired); and (2) There was so much to get done – responsibilities for family, the practice, civic responsibilities, organizational items, household, church, and on and on.

As the morning progressed, I noticed a gradually increasing feeling of being “stressed out,” feeling tense, feeling irritable when “interrupted” (yes, even by my own Honey!), not being able to settle on one course of action, being frequently distracted, and generally just feeling like I was “spinning my wheels.”  I finally stopped and asked myself, WHAT is going on?

Though I did not have the immediate answer, it was obvious that I needed to slow down.  So I took a little hike in the mountains nearby.   (With my mile-high mental task list, this actually took some faith.   But I figured if I did not take some time to slow down, I would most likely continue to be unproductive anyhow.   Besides, given my irritable mood,  if I didn’t take a hike voluntarily, my wife would likely tell me to take one later!).

After a little time in the mountains and considerable prayer, I was much more centered.   It was also more evident to me what had been happening.   I had allowed myself to become so stressed out (code phrase for fearful) about the many things on my list, as well as world events beyond my control, that I had forgotten how to attend to one moment at a time.  On an emotional level, I had been trying to handle everything at once!  In thinking this way, I was less able to do anything.   I shared my discovery with my wife.   Then, with some effort, I did significantly better the remainder of the day.

A key principle of stress management, of productivity, and of happiness is to accept what we cannot change and focus on what we can.  The result is that we stay in the present moment, and with the present task at hand.

In recent years, this has been termed “mindfulness,” and usually attributed to Buddha.   The “Mindfulness Movement” has been a huge thing in the mental health world.   And I think it has been a most wonderful and helpful development.

But this concept is not new, nor is it uniquely Buddhist.    The Psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46: 11) and “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in It (Psalm 118: 24).  The Savior himself taught, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself” (Matt 6: 34).

This does not mean that we do not learn from the past or plan for the future.   Rather, I believe it means we do not live in the past or the future, that we enjoy and give our full attention to this very moment, to those around us, to the task immediately before us.   It means that we enjoy a beautiful sunrise; that we give our best, unhurried efforts to our work; that we enjoy our children while they still enjoy us, our loved ones while they are still with us.   In a stress-filled world, this takes A LOT of faith and practice!  But it means we can find joy and peace today –regardless of what is behind us, or before us.

More recently, Thomas S. Monson has said, “This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now.   The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief.  . . .  I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do.  Instead, find joy in the journey—now” (LDS General Conference, October 2008)

Life is only made up of moments, the most important of which is always the very one you and I are in.

Right here.   Now.

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