Fully appreciating the present moment has always been a major struggle for me.
It’s an area I grapple with—even after years of working on it.
I can’t recall when exactly, but the tendency started in childhood.
I remember reading Sweet Valley High books in fourth grade and wishing I was older so I could have the freedoms the older kids had. When I was in middle school, I wanted nothing else but to get to high school. In high school, I spent many nights thinking about how things would be different when I got to college. I’d like to say that college was a blast—and while I did have my share of fun—the truth was I spent many months worrying about various things I simply had no control over.
I didn’t fully appreciate most days during my time in corporate. Looking back, I was lucky to be where I was at a time when many fellow graduates couldn’t find jobs during the recession. The job also allowed me to build up assets and experiences that I wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.
It’s easy to forget how expensive big purchases like furniture and a car are. It’s crazy now to think about how much our pre-minimalist lifestyle was, and how I traveled on average to one international destination each year. Add getting married and buying a house—two other major life changes—and it’s little wonder where all the time went.
Speed forward to today.
This month marks about two years since I took the plunge to quit my job and embark on new path. It’s a decision I’ll never regret in spite of a few of the major fears I had around the leap coming true. Even though I’m a very different person now, I continue to struggle with fully appreciating the present moment and how far I’ve come.
One part of me knows just how much work and change taking the leap has been on the inside and outside. I’ve gained much more perspective than I would’ve been able to even fathom beforehand. It’s been a significant and intense experience of exploration, learnings and effort.
Yet there’s another part of me that discredits my progress. It’s the part that thinks I could’ve accomplished more during this period. There are days when I struggle with impatience and feeling like I’m not doing enough.
I used to think this never-good-enough mentality was a driving force behind my will to continuously improve.
It’s become increasingly clear there’s a better way. We can only do so much in the course of a day. There will always be more to do for the rest of our lives.
Life is a series of small actions made in the moments of each day. What makes up the big changes in life are the days, weeks, months and years of hard work.
Life, then, is the day by day and the step by step.
If we’re not enjoying the process, then what’s the point?
I know the answer to the question is not much. Yet I can’t help it when impatience and dissatisfaction creep in unnoticed in the busyness of the day or when things take longer than expected.
I’m actively working on how to better appreciate the present moment.
For me, it’s helped to have a daily reminder on appreciating today instead of always focusing on the next step and what’s not yet done. I’ve started to write down the good parts of my day and my accomplishments every evening. It’s a daily practice of reviewing, expressing gratitude and appreciating the day to day, something that I don’t usually take the time to do.
Only with practice will the struggle will diminish over time. Day by day, I’m working on better appreciating the present moment. What about you? What practices have been helpful in appreciating the present moment?