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How to Listen to Your Heart and Live in the Moment

This story is adapted from Heart Boss by Regan Walsh.

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”

— Mother Teresa

The family dinner wasn’t going as planned.

“I’m trying to let go of being in control,” my mother whispered.

“How’s that working out for you?” I asked.

“Not very well,” she replied.

My mom fully owns her need to control situations — specifically family dinners. Where people sit, what they eat, how much time we need to sit and visit before a meal is served, and just how they generally go down. I’ve witnessed this for over forty years — not in a bad way, just aware that my mom likes things to play out a certain way (hers).

I can’t really blame her for this desire to control. She’s good at being in charge. She successfully raised six kids, ran a business with Dad, and when Dad died, she ran the family and the business.

The challenge is control freaks can get so caught up in their vision that they miss the moment they’ve planned so hard to create.

At dinner, for example, my mom was upset that half the family was eating while standing in the kitchen, not while sitting in the dining room, where she wanted them. But they were having a ball — talking, laughing, watching the kids. And isn’t that the point of family dinners? So what if it wasn’t happening the way she orchestrated? The joy and togetherness she ultimately wanted to feel was indeed happening. She just needed to step back so she could see it.

Recently, as Mom and I talked about some of her upcoming medical appointments and procedures, she lamented a brutal observation.

“Most of life,” she said, “is waiting for events to pass.”

I felt sad because she’s my mom, and I don’t like seeing her in physical or emotional pain. But my sadness is also rooted in guilt because despite coaching others out of this trap, I, too, have found myself occasionally wishing time would just speed up. (I see you, toddler parents. And I have a pretty baller liquor cabinet should you need to visit.) My husband recently acknowledged that he often feels this way, too. He worries constantly about clients, expectations, and performance, always just trying to make it to the next week.

Many of us do it. I know, because I spend my days with women feverishly running on their hamster wheels, working so hard to get to next that they completely miss now, asking if this is it.

Truth is we all control the pace of our own lives. There is not actually “so little time.” Everyone gets the same twenty-four hours a day. And each of us chooses how we use it and controls how and when we stop to savor the now.

Sometimes, for me, that means putting my phone in another room and taking my daughter on the porch in the afternoon sun, singing songs and playing together, just the two of us. Other times, it means asking Nick to feed the girls so I can walk to my favorite restaurant and eat solo at the bar. Many nights, it means closing our laptops, putting the girls to bed early, opening a good bottle of wine because it’s Tuesday, and retreating to the porch for a date.

Of course, embracing the now means leaning into moments that are uncomfortable, too. Like the stretch of time when doctors were trying to fix my pee problem, and I had to do private part exercises while counting Mississippis. Or the first time I went into labor, which included a locked hospital entrance, a tow-away zone, a metal detector (Nick set it off three times), and an elevator incident with a woman wearing an orange jumpsuit and shackles. (Exactly as we had planned!)

But this is life, friends. And the good news is if we can get good at embracing the uncomfortable moments, we can really relish the ones that make the highlight reel.

At my very first job, while working with Colleen on event production, I was the youngest staffer on the team — and the first to close a deal on a new initiative. The CEO gave me a $1,000 bonus.

“Don’t just blow it on clothes,” she advised. “Make an experience.”

There were all sorts of reasons to simply shop. But my parents were heading to southern France, so I found a plane ticket for $500 and crashed with them at their rental home in a town called La Garde-Freinet. We shopped together in markets. We went to a beach in St. Tropez carrying a table umbrella we had mistaken for a beach umbrella — plus an ax to properly lodge it in the sand. We picnicked on our blanket, overlooking yachts bobbing gently on the stunning water, eating fresh peaches and olive tapenade.

I couldn’t have known that in a couple of short months, Dad would be dead.

But I had embraced the now, choosing an adventure over shoes, and what a choice it was.

To learn more about how you can follow your heart and live your best life, Heart Boss is available on Amazon.

Regan Walsh is an executive coach and life coach who finds joy and fulfillment in helping women worldwide lead lives that sizzle. She has worked with thousands of women from Nike to Wall Street and has been featured by media outlets nationwide, including Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Today, Fast Company, and more.

Regan’s own journey has been fraught with self-inflicted stress, unsatisfying busyness, and plenty of needless striving. Thankfully, it has also been a journey of intentional searching and incredible transformation. Regan believes life’s greatest honor is to be exactly who you are, whoever that is. Regan helps women realize that person, be true to her, and find not just happiness, but contentment.

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Zach Obront

Zach Obront

Co-Founder of Scribe, Bestselling Author of The Scribe Method