Close your eyes for a moment and breathe in. Hold that breath for a moment before you let it out slowly. One of the lessons inherent in living mindfully is that each breath is, potentially, your last. Paying attention to the here and now recognizes the immense importance of the present moment.
While it’s tempting to spend your time daydreaming of your future and working towards your goals, it’s really a terrible waste of a life. Your life is made up of the ‘now moments’. If you walk through life looking only up ahead at tomorrow, next week, next year, you lose sight of the gift that your life is right here and now.
Some people spend a great deal of time dwelling on the past; chewing on what happened like a cow chews its cud and wishing for what might have been. In reality, your past is what created the magnificent creature that you are right now. Your wisdom is the result of your experience and whether you look back on your past with pleasure or regret, it has led you to the point where you are right now.
I once received an email just at the right moment to help me make a major life decision and move on from a bad situation. It asked me to imagine my life as a book. All of the pages up to right now are written in, filled with the story of my life until now. It contains all the joy, all the pain, all the mistakes, all the triumphs. Then I was asked to imagine turning the page to today and looking down on a beautiful, spotless white page, completely empty. It asked me to consider, did I want to cut and paste from the previous pages? Or did I want to fill the empty pages with a new story? It was a transformative moment. I realized I was in that difficult situation because I kept repeating the same behaviours over and over again. It was such a compelling thought that I immediately got up and made the call I needed to make to end the uncomfortable situation and stop the cycle. Right now, you have that choice. Are you going to cut and paste and repeat your past? Or are you going to write a new story.
That new story starts right now. You can’t skip a few pages and start in the future. You start right now to live the life you want to live, to create the life that you were meant to live.
Of course sometimes you have messes that have to be cleaned up to allow the space for your new life. You have to clean out the old to make way for the new. I know someone who has, several times, walked away from his life, leaving it all, everything. Every time he walks away, he leaves everything behind. Last time he left all his family photos, his papers, his clothes, even a jar full of coins that he had saved. He left it all, put a small case with some grooming items, one change of clothing, and a computer in his car and drove away. He cut off all contact with friends and family. He walked away, became a new person and started a new life. That’s an extreme case and it certainly can’t be easy to start over with absolutely nothing. But even he had some baggage that he couldn’t drop. He still had his memories, habits, expectations and regrets. Walking away is not a resolution, coming to peace with your past is.
I’m not suggesting that you spend years in therapy rehashing your childhood, or trying to figure out why you act the way you do. Therapy has it’s place and if you have serious issues that need professional intervention, then absolutely seek out that level of help. We have already seen that what we focus on we attract into our lives. Recognize your past, acknowledge its influence and impact on your present, and then refocus on the here and now so that you can move on to a grand new future. Dwelling on what went wrong in the past will only attract more of the same into your life.
Abraham, speaking through Esther Hicks, has a very neutral way of referring to all the bad ‘stuff’ in life. He calls it ‘contrast’. When we are born into or live in a situation with a lot of ‘contrast’, like a dysfunctional family, abuse, or poverty, it helps us to identify what we don’t want and so move forward to what we do want.
I attended one of the Abraham-Hicks workshops in Toronto and I was impressed by the pace and the sheer quantity of information about the Law of Attraction. Esther invites questions from the audience and then speaks rapidly and very animatedly, responding off the cuff to any and all questions. Often people ask questions about why we have negative things like crime, illness, violence. Abraham always reminds us that we are born into a place of contrast so that we can make a choice about what we want to attract into our life. Less contrast, Abraham says, leads to less change. Great contrast, or more pain, leads to greater change for the better. So rather than regret the amount of ‘contrast’ in your life, value it, because it acts as a catalyst to propel you into a future of even more positive growth.
There’s another reason for starting with the present. This is where you are right now and I’d be willing to bet that it’s not all bad. I bet you have some things, people, behaviours, experience, and ideas that you value and you would miss if you left them behind. You may be far closer to living your ideal life than you recognize. Probably the most important part of living a life of joy and happiness is being grateful. In fact, I will continue to bring it up over and over throughout this process. Gratitude should be a daily practice and right here, right now, in the present, you have much to be grateful for.
Take the time to figure out where you are right now so that you can decide where you want to go in the future.
Action Step: Where Are You Now?
Write yourself a letter describing your life at the present time.
How happy are you? What is your day to day life like? Describe your surroundings, your job, your relationships, your physical health, your financial situation.
When you’ve finished, read it over and look for the things that are going right for you right now and that you would want to bring with you into your future.
List all the good things about your life today.
Now read it again and look for the things that you want to change. These are the contrasts that will help you to identify the life you want to create in the future.
List all the things you’d like to change as you co-create your ideal life.
As you review the things you’d like to change about your life, do you feel any doubt or ambivalence?
What are the things that might hold you back as you move into the life of your dreams?
Do you have any embedded feelings or habits that might act as an anchor, holding you down and preventing you from moving on?