Think back to the last time you had a near-death experience or had just recovered from a nasty illness or setback. Remember how you felt? You probably felt exuberant, so alive and grateful to be living. That feeling is elating.
What separates that moment from any other? In other words, on a daily basis we tend not to be acutely aware of how precious and beautiful life is, but perhaps we should.
Perhaps we should.
If you think about it, it’s a huge miracle that we exist in the way we do at all: sentient beings living cooperatively on this beautiful planet, enjoying the benefits of culture, technology, health and affluence (mostly). That we have plentiful and delicious food, entertainment, employment and education (mostly). That we have friends, loved ones, and even great colleagues (mostly). That our bodies even allow us to sense the glory of nature, smell delicious food or aromatic flowers, feel the softness of a child’s skin or kitten’s fur, taste the sweetness of a ripe piece of fruit, and hear a classic symphony. Yes, it’s a true miracle.
Instead, what do we focus on all day? Our problems, what we don’t have in our lives, what are loved ones are not doing or providing to us, our discomforts, our failures, our shortcomings. I can hear some of you thinking: yes but I have financial problems/a bad boss/a chronic illness/an abusive relationship. I’m not saying our lives are perfect. I’m saying that we have so much to be grateful for despite our problems.
This focus on the negative is not a bad thing necessarily. It can be adaptive and good, but only to the degree that we are solving that problem by focusing our attention and energies on it. But at that point when we are simply worrying or complaining instead of finding a solution, we’re wasting precious time, energy and the opportunity to savor our incredible lives.
If you’ve been living your life this way, you don’t have to feel bad. The past is the past, and all you have control over is this very moment. So in this moment, what do you choose? Pain and heartache? Or joy and gratitude?
You may have squandered some of your past but don’t squander your now, and your future.
What do you choose?