Life lessons on living in the moment

Have you ever found yourself doing one thing but thinking about something else?

This is an all too common occurrence for me. I love to think, plan and experience new things. Each one of these actions by themselves are great. Do them at the same time and you take away from the moment you’re in.

A few weeks back we were out surfing. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the surf park is the perfect place to be in the moment. Waves come every two moments, so there is no choice but to focus on the task at hand.

Since I’m sitting on a surfboard, there is no way to multitask. I bob in the water, taking it all in.

On this day, my thoughts were quiet and I focused on the experience. I noticed everything.

Cooper, I was proud to see you get up after countless spills. Eventually, the determination paid off and you were riding some waves.

Brooklyn, After one long ride, you started paddling back to the middle of the lagoon. You knew there wasn’t much time to get back in position. Those little arms were moving as fast as they could and you had a grin from ear to ear.

Both of these moments stuck out that day and still do. I’m lucky I wasn’t somewhere else and got to see it.

Negative feelings

All sorts of things can distract from the present. Stress, anger, frustration or any other negative emotion is the enemy of the moment.

If I come home after a long day at work and I’m in a bad mood, time with my family is poisoned. I get precious few hours so I want to make the best of them. I try to take my own advice and push negative thoughts away.

What I am working on most of all is the choice to be happy. I find that so many negative feelings are my choice because of how I let things affect me. By letting these things slide away I prevent a negative ripple effect in my life and those around me.

Electronics

Smart phones are amazing pieces of technology. Today, they are a lifeline to the internet, work and entertainment.

With so many distractions only a swipe away, do these devices make our lives better or worse?

I don’t have a great story to capture my thoughts, but I do have this poem.

My electronic leash

You’re my constant companion day and night
You light up my eyes with a child’s delight

You can search, call or play, whatever you like
What else is there to do, go on a hike?

The app store is genius, with games galore
But it takes away moments, so remember the score

One exception to remember is Facetime or calls
It connects you to others, one and all

Music is nice, who doesn’t like tunes
Just don’t get carried away all afternoon

Emojis are fun to put in your texts
But I’m here and now and want to be next

Minecraft with friends is a favorite past time
You know what’s more fun, making new slime!

Every day those devices allow you to do more
Don’t let it affect what you’re on this earth for

Worry about the past

Rick Warren said, “We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”

The past is something that often steals from the present. Thoughts pop up and I find myself dwelling on some old decision or action. One thing is certain, the past is the past. I can’t change it, so why dwell on it?

Instead, I try to learn from those old mistakes so I don’t make them again. If I can do this, the moments I am making now will be so much better.

Focus on the future

My mind will wander off and think about the future. These thoughts are important, but there is a time and a place for them.

For me, It all starts with priorities. Understanding what things are most important helps shape my focus and thoughts. The things that matter to me, like family, are here and now. So, my first priority is today, not the future.

But I want as many today’s as possible so I make choices that help my future. I eat well, live a healthy lifestyle and take care of my body.

I also don’t want decisions I make in the present to rob my family of future today’s. That’s why we have life insurance, a will and a living trust. These things are irrelevant to enjoying today’s moments. Yet, without them they could take away from great moments in the future.

Some people don’t think you can plan for the future and still live in the moment. I disagree.

I spend a lot of time doing things that will make the future better. I listen to audio books, I take online classes, I write and I think about the things I want to achieve. I do all this at times when I’m alone, either in the car or when everyone is asleep. These activities are the moment and I’m not trading off what is most important in my life.

Thomas Monson sums it up perfectly. “The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.”

This post is part of a series of letters to my kids. My goal is to reflect on and capture as many life lessons as possible. Here is the current list I am working from.

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Originally published on chadbockius.com