Are you struggling with focus?
Are you waiting to live?
Do you often find the day slipping by your hands simply because you wish you could undo the past or you can’t wait for the future to manifest itself?
What if you need a new approach to living, one that makes everyday a delight, one where every moment counts?
Sincerely, I have also dealt with that feeling like I’m just going through the motions, like life is just happening to me. Until my epiphany with Spencer Johnson’s book, The Present, I didn’t clearly understand how to break unhealthy thought habits that were holding me back from enjoying my life now.
I found out that what I needed was to be present – a sense of being fully engaged with life as it is happening now and making the best of it.
I will share with you the lessons I learnt from that book so that you can see that the Present moment is indeed a gift and today can be the best day of your life:
1. Understand that the past and the future can be distraction
Harnessing the goodness of the present moment requires paying attention to what is happening in the now. We do our best work when we are most absorbed in what we are doing so much that we are thinking of nothing else.
You can’t deliver your best effort when you are thinking of the yesterday you cannot change or the tomorrow, over which you have no real power.
2. Your Interpretation of your circumstances matter
Many people wait for a change of circumstances to feel better. This is a recipe for lasting despondency. Some people are their own worst enemy. Their interpretation of difficulty is a sense of victimhood coupled with the paranoia that the world is against them.
Does your interpretation, the meaning you give to your circumstances, empower you to rise above it? Never forget that your attitude is always more important than the facts. When you change the attitude of your mind, you change your life.
Always find interpretations that empower you in every situation, no matter how difficult.
3. Don’t try to avoid pain or deny it
There are three common reactions to pain. You can either deny it, avoid it or drown in it. Oh! There is a fourth, you can choose to grow through it.
Let me say this that some of our spiritual, mental or emotional growth will be stunted if we choose the first three. Let us face it, we are not guaranteed a pain free life, whether you are good or despicable.
Perhaps, you were heart broken, you lost your job or something tragic happened. I agree with you – nobody likes to go through pain. But Guess what? The healing process lies within the power of your attitude.
The earlier you start choosing a positive interpretation and start looking for ways it can serve your personal growth the better.
Zig Ziglar said,
“Sometimes, adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful.”
We need your comeback story not your helplessness story. Rise up and take your life back.
4. Focus on what is happening now
This is the key to enjoying the present – just focus on the task at hand. Don’t think of what you could have done or what you are going to do next, how good tomorrow will be or why you were treated unfairly.
Let the beauty of doing a great work consume you. Treat every task as an opportunity to create something wow now.
I have found that I can’t be happy when I’m just getting by, just doing the minimum requirement. Do you agree with this?
If you look closely enough, this can be the reason for your unhappiness. You are not giving your best effort or concentration to what you are doing now.
5. Learn from the past
Spencer Johnson wrote,
“Learn from the past anytime you want to make the present better than the past.”
Are you unhappy with your choices or mistakes in the past? The only way to ensure you won’t repeat the same mistakes is not to regret it or to feel remorseful but to extract the lessons from it.
Ask yourself, what went wrong, and how could you have acted better. How can you ensure you prevent a repeat occurrence?
According to Leke Alder,
“Experience is not the best teacher. Wisdom is.”
Follow the counsel of George Santayana,
“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
If you keep making the same mistake over and over again. It’s time to ask if you are really learning from your mistakes.
6. Stay above the negativity radar
Nothing spoils the present moment like anxiety. Guess its source? Negative interpretation of the past and negative expectations about the future.
Zig Ziglar hit home run when he said,
“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”
Be careful about negativity lest you say like the Biblical Job,
“For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dread has happened to me.”
Negative thinking creates a self-fulfilling prophecy by attracting the circumstances and state of mind that will make your fears happen.
Don’t allow fear or negativity to grow a tree in your heart. Hell feeds on its fruits.
7. Plan for the future
Until you learn from the past, you can’t maximize the future. But the best way to maximize the future is to plan for it. See, hope or luck is not a strategy in realizing your desired future.
Dreams are mere fantasies until you have a plan. Until you can count the cost and determine the price to pay and the steps to get there, anxiety will continue to plague you and rob you off your joy in the now.
I advise you, plan your life. If your life is worth living then it’s worth planning. Nobody except you and God can have a better plan for your life, not your employer, your parents, siblings or society.
I can’t agree more with Jim Rohn,
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you will fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they may have planned for you? Not much.”
8. What are you going today to make it happen
John Maxwell frequently mentions this in his books, “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is in your daily agenda.”
Nothing has the power to change your life and to help you maximize the moment than action. After the great vision of the future and the process of planning for it, here is where the rubber meets the road – what will you do today to make it happen?
No matter how seemingly small or inconsequential, take action today. Consider a day wasted in which you have not done something that will aid the realization of your future goals.
Spencer Johnson wrote,
“Plan for the future anytime you want to make the future better than the present.”
9. Purpose is the golden key
All the aforementioned will have no meaning except you have a strong sense of purpose for your life. I consider it the most important of all.
There are some difficulties I have been through, go through and some that I’m planning to embrace because of purpose. I consider them as the price to be paid to arrive at my future destination.
You will understand it clearly in Friedrich Nietzche’s words,
“He who has a why to live for can bear almost anyhow.”
Your purpose not your quest for comfort is the key to intrinsic and lasting motivation. It will keep you from asking, “Is this all there is to it?” when you finally achieve your desired goals.
Please always ensure that your goals, plans and effort is consistent with your purpose. This is lesson No1 in the art of living.
10. Let your definition of success empower you
People’s definition of success has the power to affect their joy in the now. If you definition of success is strictly material, it means you won’t be happy until you acquire. If it is dictated by society, it means you won’t be happy until you have their approval.
But who wants to live by these often shallow definitions that lumps all of us into a mold that doesn’t fit our unique shapes.
Choose a definition of success that empowers you. Life is progressive not magical. You won’t change your life over night. Allow yourself to grow and become.
My best definition of success is one that makes me feel successful today as long as I choose to live by it. John Maxwell defines it,
“Success is knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others.”
With this, I can feel successful every day.
Let’s have a conversation
In what ways have you let the past or the future rob you of feeling successful now? Are you planning for the future or just wishing for it. What is your definition of success? Is it helpful for your personal growth or frustrating it? Please share your thoughts to encourage and help others.