Enjoying the Moment: How to Stop Living in the Future

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” ~John Lennon

 

Spring has definitely sprung.

Everywhere I look in nature there is new growth and blossoms. Change is all around.

Springtime has a way of enhancing our awareness of the changes that happen on a daily basis. If we don’t stop and pay attention we might miss it.

Some of us live in a constant state of desiring change. Maybe you want something different for your life. Or you have difficulty enjoying your life as it is right now.

Have you ever caught yourself saying something like “When ____ happens I will ____.” For example:

When I get that promotion I’ll be happier and enjoy my life.

When the back yard is finished I will finally have that housewarming party.

Once I have a boyfriend/ girlfriend/ significant other I will feel fulfilled.

If I had a new car I’d actually enjoy my commute to work.

It’s a self-defeating cycle to place our experience of happiness/ contentment/ joy on a future or externalized event.

So often we never reach that future event, or when we do there are additional challenges. The promotion finally comes, but it also comes with added responsibilities and an extra ten hours of work per week. You get involved in a new relationship but still don’t feel the happiness you were hoping for.

Living in the future (like you are doing when you tell yourself these “if … then…” statements) keeps you from enjoying this moment. It prevents you from soaking in what is around you in this moment. And, this moment has the potential to fill you with joy/ happiness/ contentment.

Sure, having a new car, a promotion, fewer bills, or a relationship might impact your happiness to some extent. But it is not the end-all-be-all to your experience of joy.

It’s also not the reality of your life.

There is a fine line between working toward a future goal and living in the future. There is a benefit to creating something for your life (working toward a promotion, saving to buy a new car, investing in healthy relationships). But living your life as if that future goal is the only thing that will bring happiness is self-defeating. 

Create a balance between loving what you currently have and creating a future you will love.

So, what would bring you happiness or peace in this moment? Finding ways to stay in the moment can help with absorbing the amazing abundance already around you.

Pay attention to the beauty in nature around you – in the blossoming flowers, chirping birds and warm sunshine.

Relish in your relationships. Take a few moments to connect with a co-worker about your weekends. Play a game of thumb-war with you kid. Smile and chat with the clerk in the grocery store.

Take a deep breath before responding to an email. Eat your lunch without working. Go for a walk on your break. Drive a different route heading home after work.

Call a family member you haven’t spoken with in a while. Express gratitude to others. Hug someone you love. Tell your family how much they mean to you.

This is all you have… this moment.

Don’t let life pass you by while you’re making other plans.

 

Adriana Joyner, LMFT, is a Sacramento Area therapist specializing in counseling for people healing from painful life experiences and traumas, and gender support for those within the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway 50 at Sunrise Blvd.  For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (916) 547-3997 or email adrianajoynermft@gmail.com.