“The present moment is filled with joy & happiness”: Lessons from tidying the cutlery drawer

Five months
today, I’ll be holidaying in a seaside cottage with my partner and his
family.  I keep picturing the scene, envisioning
myself taking a bracing walk along the beach before curling up with a hot mug
of tea, a good book and some tartan trousers (fantasies about my future
*always* include details about what I’m wearing).  I’ve also been checking out my availability
in February 2016 as a friend is organising a girls’ weekend away.  Most dates are fine but I want to avoid
clashing with a few work commitments already pencilled in.

I’m very
excited about these future plans but have to keep reminding myself that they
are some distance away.  Imagining good times
ahead is healthy and normal, but what if they distract us from the here and
now?  I don’t want to be so caught up in
daydreaming about winter escapades (and planning my capsule wardrobe to take
with me) that I overlook the treasures that summer still has to offer.  

The future
can pull so strongly on our minds and our hearts.  Throughout childhood we dream and scheme
about ‘when we grow up’ and somehow that hankering for all our tomorrows never
really leaves us as adults.  We picture some
time ahead of now and yearn for what it promises: holiday, new job, Christmas,
baby gets older, kids grow up, teenagers leave home, retirement…then I’ll be
happy / get more sleep / go travelling / relax (delete as appropriate).  Or worse we postpone living our lives to the
full whilst we await some event that we hope will happen but have no guarantees
about: when I lose two stone / get married / make enough money / am less busy.

The future
tugs and pulls and distracts us with all its tantalizing allure.  How much easier it is to look ahead to an
imaginary time that we can mould to our exact desires rather than embrace where
we actually are in our lives right now.
My mythical future home looks exactly like the place I’m living in now
only the boxes in the hallway have been replaced with beautiful bookshelves,
the worktop doesn’t need linseed oiling and the unknown source of all the dust
in the bathroom has mysteriously vanished.
Oh, and I never, ever, ever have to sit at my desk completing a tax
return.  

As this
example illustrates, our future-focus is not always a useful psychological tool
for getting through tough times and traumas.
Sometimes we use it to avoid the kinds of problems that come with
frankly pretty privileged existence.  It
simply gives us some time-out from being responsible for our lives.  In our dream worlds, we don’t have to
organise solutions, actually do any work or other unappealing things like save
money or start pensions; in fantasy future land, everything we want just
magically happens.  Small wonder it’s an
attractive place to mentally decamp to whenever we want to be absolved of
adulthood.

Yet one of
the many dangers of spending too much time in this comfortable place in our
heads is that it can overshadow the here and now, which is a great place to dwell
if we really look at it.  We lose sight
of all the goodness around us.
Feverishly craving the next stage in your child’s development can
obscure the joys of whatever it is they are doing today.  Fixating on a particular decorating project
can blind us to all the stuff we love about the home we live in.  Too much daydreaming about future adventures
almost stopped me appreciating the treasure to be found in a quiet Saturday
afternoon at home, tidying out the cutlery drawer.

Living
for the weekend makes us overlook everything we have to be grateful for from
Monday to Friday.

Living
for the holidays makes us wish away months and years of our lives.

Let’s not
forget everything we have to be grateful for in the here and now.  Whenever it is that you’re reading this, stop
for a few minutes and think about three good things in your life right
now.  And I mean right now, in this
moment.  Perhaps it’s sunny.  Perhaps it’s raining – but you’re inside in
the dry.  Perhaps you’re on holiday.  Perhaps you’re at work – but you’ve got a
brew and a few minutes to read this blog post.
Perhaps you like your nail varnish.
Perhaps your kids are playing in the garden.   Perhaps you’re eating a good lunch.  

If you can’t
think of anything, go to the nearest tap and turn it on.  You have access to running water!  That is something to be very glad about.

Think of
three things that you are grateful for right now.  Then next time you are drifting off into
fantasy future land, come back to the present and do it again.  

And again.

And again.

Rather than
living for the future, let’s live for our lives today.  I’ve heard that Thursday 30th July
is really rather a great day to be alive J

Three
things that I’m grateful for right now:
The
sun has just come out again!
The
peace and quiet of where I live
The
Orla Kiely notebook on the desk beside my laptop – a beautiful present from a
friend.

Share what
you’re grateful for right now!  You can
comment below or on social media: there’s Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or the A Life Of One’s Own
Facebook page
.  And of course you can
also email me (rae@alifeofonesown.co.uk).  

If there’s
a topic that you’d like to see me write about in future posts, send me an
email.  I’d love to know what you’re
interested in and to explore ways that I can help.

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Carpe Weekend

Most of us are familiar with the phrase ‘Carpe Diem’, or ‘Seize the day’.  Yet rather than seizing every day, often it is only on the weekend that we feel we have time to stop, collect ourselves and breathe.  This feature is designed to help with that: a small suggestion, tip or hint for you to try (if you wish!) over the weekend.  Maybe it will make a difference to your life, maybe it won’t, maybe it will prompt some other thoughts.  Enjoy – and seize your weekend!

I’ve been on a few trains recently after a period of not catching one for a while. I usually enjoy such journeys, partly because I don’t have to take a train everyday and partly because they offer such great opportunities for daydreaming. Yes, I could do work or check email or some other serious, important endeavour. Or I could just stare out of the window, take in the world around me and let my mind wander. Often, of course, a startling insight bubbles up or I find the solution to a pressing problem magically comes to me when I’ve done so, but these useful outcomes don’t happen on tap. Daydreaming is not a to do list item. Daydreaming is freedom. Try it this weekend. Even just a few minutes; look out of window or, better, lie on some grass and stare at the sky. Allow your mind to drift…who knows where it will take you.

[Pictured are some photographs taken whilst I paused to daydream on Thursday – much needed time out during a busy day]