Learning to Live in the Moment

“Live neither in the past nor in the future, but let each day’s work absorb your entire energies, and satisfy your widest ambition.” Sir William Osler

One afternoon a few weeks ago, I was spending time with my 4-month old son. He was sitting on my lap, playing with his current favorite toy, a stuffed moose. As he babbled and gurgled, I found myself thinking, “I wish he could entertain himself so I could get some work done.”

Later that evening, after my son had gone to sleep for the night, I found myself with a few rare hours to spend however I pleased. What did I do? I looked through photos of my son, thinking about all the fun he and I would have together the following day, wishing that it would come sooner.

Too often, I find myself so wrapped up in the past or future, I am unable to live in the present moment. There is always something else I wish I was doing, and I am dissatisfied to simply receive the right now and today.

We are masters of wishing for things, largely because we live in a consumer society. Instead of being content with the present reality, we reminisce about that thing we used to have, or dream about getting that thing that we don’t yet possess. Because of this, we are discontent people. We are discontent in our relationships, in our careers, in our life stages.

Another obstacle to living in the moment is the all-too-common activity of multitasking. We are frequently consumed by the need to be productive, and we allow ourselves to become busied and distracted (case in point: while I was in the process of writing this very post, I was simultaneously checking email, paying a bill over the phone, scanning an Elle magazine article, and browsing Facebook to see whose birthdays were coming up. The true irony is that when I do five things at one time, only a fraction of my attention is given to each activity, and I am not actually doing any of them). This way of life derails us from appreciating the here and now.

Receiving each moment as it comes has been a new discipline in my life. I try to respond to the present with acceptance, joy and contentment. As I watch my son learn how to sit up, take a hot morning shower, chat on the phone with my parents, go for a walk during the last warm days of summer, eat fresh cheese at the farmer’s market, or spend a few quiet moments with my husband, I remember the words of Michel de Montaigne: “Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee.”

I am learning to love what I have in the present moment, and that is the true art of living.

10 thoughts on “Learning to Live in the Moment

  1. I always feel guilty. Guilty that I'm not doing more! More working/more getting out of the house/more reading…more more more.

    So thank you for this post. It reminded me that more isn't the most important thing. Just doing one thing at a time, and doing it well.

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  2. Hey Larissa ~ I am learning this for myself right now! So many of my thoughts are occupied with the future, especially because it involves some BIG plans! But it's still so important to LIVE in the here and now.

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  3. I absolutely LOVE this post…my therapist told me this ages ago and I believed her, but you have put it much more poetically than her clinical description…and I believe you more. :o)

    Thank you for sharing,
    xox

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  4. i've been having a hard time doing that lately too, i've been so busy and worried about what's coming up and not what's happening now. i think we all have that problem sometimes, oy.

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  5. I love the story about you and your son! It's really surprising how hard it is to “Carpe Diem”, but I think recognizing those special moments when they happen is definitely a step in the right direction.

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  6. well said. Part of me is not looking forward to having my fancy schmancy light small laptop to bring to school and take notes on a computer in class vs. the old fashioned way. having my laptop with me all the time will now make it so that I can check fb/gmail/etc. whenever I want. So maybe I will choose to leave it home every now and again. Hope you and baby are doing well!

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  7. It is actually bittersweet to read this, because I saw myself, at one point, while reading your words. I can't add much more to the subject, because I think that with time (and age!) you'll eventually learn what the important things in life are.

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