Provision #112: Enjoy the Present Moment

LifeTrek Provision

The last six LifeTrek Provisions have been intense. Change is not easy. Even small changes can be difficult to make and maintain. Large changes require even more effort, planning, and support. But they’re not impossible. We truly believe that people can change their fundamental way of being and doing (sometimes in an instant, but usually over a longer period time). The last six LifeTrek Provisions, taken together, represent an effective strategy for personal and/or professional change. If you desire assistance to put these tips into practice, give us a call (757) 345-3452. We’d be happy to become your coach.

The emphasis on change inevitably involves a focus on the future. The desire to change implies a judgment on the past and the present. We are unhappy about something: our job, spouse, partner, children, friends, health, weight, temper, status, power, position, money, congregation, community, country, environment, or world. The desire to change reflects restlessness about who and what we are. It means we are not totally happy with our life.

This unhappiness, which is arguably the human condition, plays an important role in human life. Were it not for the restlessness of the human soul we all might still be hunters and gatherers. But the human animal has the power to imagine a different, better, or nobler way. Before you know it, others are attracted to the cause and we’re off to the races. Coaching is a time-tested approach to assist people in running the race of life. With a coach we get to where we want to go more quickly, easily, and reliably.

But how do we find happiness along the way, between yesterday and tomorrow? The emphasis on change can drain the happiness out of today as we become ever more focused on the discrepancy between the already and the not yet. We know where we are. And we know where we want to be. How do we find happiness in the present moment? How do we embrace the process of becoming, with its inevitable fits and starts?

It may sound simplistic, but the answer is to enjoy the present moment. We cannot live in the future, even though we’re all headed in that direction. Neither can we live in the past, even though we’ve all come from that common corridor. We can only live in the present; it is the only moment any of us ever have. Happiness is a matter of living “mindfully in the present moment” (Thich Nhat Hanh), or of going with “the flow” (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi). It’s about paying and framing our attention.

Paying Attention

One cannot be happy in the present moment unless one is paying attention to the present moment. Our mind has the ability to drift off in many directions. Just because our body is here doesn’t mean our mind is here. Ever forget where you were going or what you were about to do? Ever find yourself dwelling on the could-a, would-a, should-a? Ever find yourself obsessing over what might have been or could now never be? Then you’ve had the experience of not living mindfully in the present moment.

We all have these experiences. They cannot be eliminated entirely. Go there too often or too long, however, and it becomes increasingly difficult to enjoy the present moment. Bob has found that running anchors his attention in the present moment. Whatever may be the problems behind or before him, running tends to push them out of mind and out of body. Deep breathing and walking are other effective techniques. On the ride home from work, breathing deeply can replace the pressures of the day with the relationships of the home. Walking around the block before walking in the door, listening to the birds and enjoying the fresh air can work even better.

Framing Attention

Once we start paying attention to the present moment, we may have to frame our attention in different ways so as to enjoy the present moment. Not every moment is what we want it to be. Pain and suffering are real parts of the human experience. Next week we’ll talk about how to find happiness in spite and in the midst of any situation, no matter how challenging or terrible. Until then, pay attention to the present moment. Don’t live in yesterday or tomorrow. Just pay attention to the here and now. In so doing, you may discern profound signs of meaning and hope.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

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