How to Stop Worrying About the Future and Live in the Present

“For a long time, it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last, it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.”
– Fr. Alfred D’Souza

I can resonate so deeply with this and imagine others can too.

“Once I finish grad school, life will really begin.”

“Once we aren’t long-distance, our life together will finally start.”

“Once we buy a house, that’s when it’s all going to come into place.”

“Once the pandemic’s over, life will start back up.”

The problem with this mentality is all the while we are saying these things and waiting for the next step…life is happening. Life is happening right in front of us. This is life.

We get busy in the hustle of life. We complete tasks, we move towards our goals and we get wrapped up in the preconceived notion of who we are and how things “should” be.

Don’t wait to make it over the next hurdle before you start living your life.

You can do this by noticing and “cherishing the space between.” Cherishing the space between means taking in all that life has to offer, even during times that may seem “boring,” “bland” or not filled with the next activity. It’s about cherishing the space between the laughs, the cries, the next sip of coffee or next bite of food. It’s about being in the present, taking in the moments between your next appointment, reveling in the space between someone saying something and your response, the space between the next life event or big project.

Anxiety Treatment

One simple technique for noticing the positives around you is the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 mindfulness check-in. Here’s how you do it.

  • Name 5 things you can see (leaves falling from the trees, heat coming from my coffee mug, candle in front of me, squirrels chasing each other, sun poking through the clouds in the sky).
  • 4 things you can touch (armrest of the chair I’m sitting in, computer screen, ponytails on my wrist, soft blanket on my lap)
  • 3 things you can hear (football playing in the background, my fingers tapping on the computer keyboard, wind blowing outside my house)
  • 2 things you can smell (clean laundry, smell of peach candle lit in the other room)
  • 1 thing you can taste (hummus from my dinner)
  • And finally, take one deep breath.

Try practicing this the next time your mind tries to take you into the past or far into the future.

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