Living “in the moment” seems to be a popular mantra for happiness. Putting a priority on the here and now should make us more aware — more appreciative — of what author Dan Millman calls, “ordinary moments.”
However, in practice, it doesn’t always work out that way — or result in a happy ending. It seems there’s a difference — a significant one — in how the concept is interpreted, and put to use.
Living “in the moment” suggests a sense of mental freedom from life’s inevitable trials and tribulations — and the restrictions that ultimately result from dealing with them. Even the words themselves — in the moment — elicit a feeling of openness, possibility, adventure, curiosity, and growth.
Yet many deny themselves the chance to enjoy this simple pleasure by refusing to let go of the emotional baggage that prevents them from recognizing the opportunity to live a happier life.
The prospect of experiencing a heightened degree of mental release — with no strings attached — can seem like a rarity
An option reserved for those born into prosperity and affluence, or afforded to folks who are seemingly liberated from life’s problems and concerns.
This perceived inability to participate in full appreciation of the present typically results from holding onto negative anchors from the past. Like stubborn barnacles clinging to our subconscious, these persistent beliefs are a form of residue left over from previous unpleasant experiences and circumstances. And until their influence is neutralized, we can’t appreciate — or even recognize — what’s right in front of us.
In truth, we all have the capacity to set ourselves free from negative or even destructive thought patterns
By realizing our past does not exist in our present moments, we have the power to dismiss lingering shadows of suspicion and doubt, and give ourselves permission to be better, stronger, and happier.
That’s the Theory — and for Some, It Works
But for those who still struggle with a transition to being fully present and aware in real time, there’s another aspect of this concept that’s worth exploring. And it comes with a warning — because a single word changes everything.
When you hear someone talk about an action taken in haste or a comment made in anger, they often use the term, “in the heat of the moment.” This infers there was an external event or unexpected circumstance that influenced their behavior.
The word “heat” indicates an unusual or abnormal change in temperature, an escalation from “normal,” to an environment that incites stress, anxiety, and apprehension. “Heated” discussion topics and circumstances become trigger points, and are thought to require immediate action and attention.
The result? A knee-jerk or thoughtless reaction.
Instead of responding — vocally or physically — with logic and reason, the heat of the moment prompts a spontaneous and often defensive reflex.
The Big Question
When evaluating the probable outcome of either, (1) openly and honestly choosing to take a chance to improve yourself by trying something new in the moment, or (2) being pushed into a situation your gut disagrees with in the heat of the moment — which has more potential to result in harmful consequences?
Here are a few thoughts to consider when you’re presented with an “in the moment” opportunity:
- If the situation or person doesn’t care whether you say yes or no, it’s a sign you’re being given a free and open opportunity for expression. The decision is yours alone and, regardless of the choice, everyone walks away clean and feeling better for the experience. If you’re sensing the heat, it’s likely due to your own internal alarm system luring you to jump into the fire, or at least walk the coals — despite the nagging sense it may be the wrong direction for you.
- If the choice to engage in a conversation or activity feels forced, or you’re being pressured to participate in an event you’re not interested in, there’s likely an underlying agenda — to someone else’s benefit. And you may end up getting burned in the process.
- When in the presence of “heat,” you may become restless, tossing good judgment and objectivity out the door in favor of taking immediate action for fear of not being accepted, left in the dust, or thought less of in the eyes of others. Because when push comes to shove, and you’re unable to say no or remove yourself from unpleasant activities or surroundings, you’ve effectively given up control.
- If the possibility of trying something new excites you in a positive way, it’s worth exploring. The sense of adventure, creativity, and inspiration is easy to recognize, because it creates a motivating force urging you to take a chance — a risk — on something or someone your instinct recognizes as good for you and your future.
Every Day We’re Faced with Choices
Some arrive with little or no advance notice — requiring us to make on-the-spot decisions. Whether at work, home, on vacation, at a party, or driving to the store, we exist in the present — in the moment. And it’s important to acknowledge the difference between making responsible and ethical decisions that improve our lives and advance our awareness, or letting the smoldering heat of distraction burst into flames — destroying any possibility of a positive outcome.
An “in the moment” decision should leave you with the confidence that you made the right choice — and would do it again without hesitation
Personally, I always ask myself one bottom-line question: How will I feel about it in the light of day? If the answer is positive, even exciting, I’ll take the leap — in the moment. But if my mind senses doubt, incongruency, or possible regret, my angel whispers the truth in my ear — and I’ll step aside and move on.
So far, it’s working — and I have few, if any, misgivings.
© 2020 Jill Reid. All Rights Reserved.
It’s Time to Change the Channel in Your Mind
Life is conceptual — and the picture is evolving all the time.
Thank you for reading the article. You’ll find more tips and strategies on living a positive life in my book, Real Life
Jill Reid is the author of Real Life, and founder of Pathway to Personal Growth and Kitchen Spirit. Her books and articles explore life, happiness, self-improvement, health, productivity, relationships, and personal success strategies for living longer and stronger through positive lifestyle choices.