I’ve written about living in the moment before and most likely I will again. It is a spiritual practice with rich rewards but it does take practice. The happiest people I know are those who have cultivated this skill, leaving the past in the past, forgiving themselves and learning from mistakes, and not projecting too far into the future. Sometimes I call this ability to live in the present, “living like a dog.”
Dogs are truly remarkable creatures. Loyal, non-complainers (unlike my cat who is capable of maligning my character to anyone in the vicinity), quick to forgive, I find they carry life lightly. My little dog Toto truly lives in the moment. If I ask him the time, he says “now.” Same food day after day? He’s delighted. Only water to drink? He’s grateful. Going for a walk? Best activity ever invented. On the occasions when I can take him off the leash to run, it is pure bliss for him, echoed in the electric activity of his little body.
When he is naughty and I scold him, he has forgotten the whole thing in ten minutes and is back to adoring his people. He makes friends easily, is slow to judge, and holds no resentments.
He even asks for what he wants (to play), and lets me know when he needs something (when he asks to go out).
For him, this all comes naturally, because he lives in the present moment. For me, most of this takes effort. The thing is, though, that I have a choice in how I will live and can choose to practice this living in the moment.
A few days ago I was with a client who was making himself miserable over something that might happen. What Buddhists call “the monkey mind” had taken over and he was obsessively thinking about scenario A leading to scenario B leading to scenario C and so on until, in his mind he had met with complete financial ruin. Was any of this true? Not so much. He has several successful small businesses, lives in a nice home, and provides well for his family. So I asked him if he was all right at this very moment. And he said yes. He was more than fine at that very moment; he was well taken care of. I reminded him that the singular moment was all he had.
And that is all any of us ever have. This very moment. I have the power to choose to live in each moment of each day. To notice what is around me. To choose to not go down the “what if” path and to choose instead to delight in what is. Just like Toto.