Do you ever get caught up in “destination preoccupation?” I know I do. I notice my mind is on where I need to be rather than where I am right now. On a bigger scale, I might be focusing on the life I imagine for myself in the future instead of the life I am living right here in the present. My “to do” list sometimes overshadows my “to be” list. The other day I had an opportunity to realize just how silly this is. Many times after my morning beach walk, I take a few extra minutes to jump into the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean. I often tell myself I really don’t have time for this, and some days when I have an early appointment, this is true. On this particular day, however, my first appointment wasn’t until later that afternoon. Even so, my ego reminded me that there were plenty of items on my “to do” list, and if I ever wanted to be happy in the future, I had better get to them right away! But the water was unusually calm that day. The sun was shining. A breeze was blowing. The conditions were too enticing to resist, so I didn’t.
I’m so glad I allowed myself that ten minutes to just be in the ocean. The water was so tranquil I was able to float on my back and watch the birds and the clouds drift by in the sky overhead. I let the gentle waves carry away my worries about the future and those items on my “to do” list. I was right there in that moment. Gratitude filled my heart. As I emerged from the water, my mind started thinking about what’s next. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a living space that overlooks that magnificent ocean? I imagined how wonderful it would be to see and hear the waves rolling in each morning when I awoke and again each evening before I fell asleep. It would be wonderful to be able to step outside right there at the beach for my walk without having to drive anywhere or look for parking. Then it occurred to me. “John, you’re here now enjoying that ocean! You don’t have to wait for some day in the future. Don’t you get it? Enjoy it NOW!” So I did. I plunked myself down under a palm tree and basked in that feeling of peace and contentment for a few more minutes.
The events of that day reminded me of the story of the Mexican fisherman from “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferris. Click HERE to watch a two minute video that tells the story. It demonstrates one of the ego’s favorite mantras, “Seek and do not find.” The ego wants to keep you in the pursuit of happiness, but it doesn’t actually want you to be happy. It wants to keep you away from the present moment where peace, love, and joy reside. If you found them, the ego could not survive. Therefore, the ego keeps you consumed with the past and worried about the future so you skip right over the present moment. This ensures that your future will be just like your past, the pursuit will continue, and the ego can stay firmly in place.
It’s a clever plan, but it only works until you discover it. You can foil the ego’s plan by simply pausing to take a slow, deep breath whenever you feel that you are spinning out of control. This reconnects you with Spirit and re-calibrates you with the presence of peace. In that moment, perhaps you can also find one thing to be grateful for, even if the only thing you can think of is the air you just breathed. That’s fine. Oxygen is indeed something to be grateful for. The more you practice, the more things you will find right there in your present moment. Who knows? You might discover that you already have what you are seeking.
Do you find yourself living for future happiness, and suffering in the now? Are you stuck in the past or worried about the future? Give yourself the opportunity to be in the now where peace, love, and joy reside. I base all of my Life Coaching programs on the strong principles from A Course in Miracles. I know they work because they have worked for me. I will share some of the practical applications I use that help me shift from fear to love whenever I start worrying about the future or thinking about the past. Family Constellations is another great way to let go of old limiting beliefs that prevent you from the happy life you were meant to live now. Please visit my website for more information about Life Coaching programs, private Family Constellations sessions (in person, over the phone, or via Skype), and upcoming group sessions.
Until next time, remember that there really is no next time. There is only now, so don’t forget to enjoy where you are in this moment. And breathe…