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As a highly sensitive person, our imaginations tend to carry us away into
so many "what if" future scenarios that we cripple ourselves.
One big trap that robs our serenity is feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of our
future busyness. I don't know about you, but for me when I have a really full
schedule, I can look ahead at it and feel drained.
By living in the future and fearing how much work I have to do and how little
relaxation time I'll have to enjoy my life, I lose my energy.
I've noticed some people tend to have tons of energy and get a lot done.
They tend to truly live more in the present moment and not project their fears
into the future.
And actually, I have learned to live my life like this for the most part. I have
found worry to be over-rated and really not very effective.
What's the secret? Maybe it's different for everyone. But I've found a few
things that seem to work.
1) If we focus on giving to others, that we GET TO do X,Y,Z, it totally shifts our
perception, the lens through which we view the world. Life is no longer one
big responsibility that feels heavy, but a gift to breathe another day.
2) I examine my thoughts regularly. Does this belief bring me fear? If so, do
I wish to keep it? Or would it be more fulfilling if I chose another belief that
fills me with gratitude and hope...
3) When I was in Overeaters Anonymous, we had a slogan "One day at a time."
This really helped me to realize I didn't have to figure my whole life out all
at once. Life would unfold one moment at a time.
So what if we married the present moment and divorced worry? What would this
look like? Maybe we'd find ourselves breathing a lot more deeply, which brings us
back into the present moment. It also calms our nervous system.
It's not how busy we are that's the problem. It's the tension and stress created
in our body and mind when we think we can't handle our life that is the problem.
This reminds me of Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor.
It always amazes me how he could tirelessly work countless long days and nights in the
concentration camps,helping his fellow human being, and see beauty and meaning
amidst the most absurd, painful and dehumanizing conditions.
It's because he was focused on others, not himself (the giving piece). He questioned
his thoughts and decided to create a reality in his own mind that served him to be
present with others. He lived in the moment.
If he could do it in those conditions, then we can do it too, right?
I'll end with a reading from December 17 in the book Healing After Loss.
The supreme value is not the future but the present. Octavio Paz.
The present is bad enough when we are hit with fresh grief. But we
compound our sorrow by spinning our minds out over all the years and
occasions of the future when we will so sorely miss the presence of our
A certain amount of this is not only inevitable, but helpful--a kind of
rehearsal for what lies ahead, and a way of getting used to our loss by
thinking of all of its ramifications.
But after a while we need to remind ourselves that life is lived one day
at a time, and that this day, this present moment, is all we have, all we
can be sure of. Sir William Osler speaks of living our lives in "day-tight
compartments"--as a ship's captain, with the touch of a button, shuts
off parts of that ship into watertight compartments.
It is we who control the buttons of our own preoccupations and concerns,
and we will do much better if we focus most of our attention on the moments
and hours of the day that is before us.
I will try to contend graciously and productively with this day."
Let's talk. I invite you to consider how you might get back some of your
energy and your life. I'll be teaching the Frontier to Freedom class on
Thursday, 1/10/19. Please join me at a new location for this month.