If you live 85 years, you will live over 31,000 days. Take one of them and live it like you’re done. Live it like you’re finished. Like you’ve achieved all of your goals and that you can now relax. If you have a home that needs work, that’s okay because now you can afford the work. Imagine for a day that money is no object. You have more than you need. If you have kids they’re doing great and their future is very bright. In short, you are healthy, wealthy and wise and it’s lead to you being able to do anything you like.
So what do you do if there’s no need to go get this money or go get that person? If status isn’t an issue and ending debt or building wealth are taken care of, and you and the kids are already living out some healthy plan that’s leading to increases in fitness, what’s left? If your friends all think you’re funny and interesting and you don’t have enemies because people finally get you, then what now? If every single thing you’ve wanted was resolved, what would you do?
It seems like an easy question. Most people would guess they would relax; that they would do enjoyable things like sight-see, or take courses for fun, or learn how to paint or maybe learn another language. More time for sports, and to visit friends and family. Rather than trying to move forward in the world people would be trying to absorb the world. They would shift from doing things that would improve their situation to things that would be enjoyable or enriching to do. Can you see the important distinction?
In one life we strive. Much of what we undertake is designed to affect other people’s thoughts about us rather than having an affect on the actual moments of our existence. We are trying to be impressive to those around us through our words and actions and achievements. In the other life we are invested in experiences. We want to have rewarding and enriching experiences that expand our sense of self.
So one of these is all about other people and one is all about you. One is egotistical and focused on being recognized and credited, whereas the other presumes inclusion and it’s all about a kind of healthy selfishness—a desire to take life as an opportunity itself, and to spend it well. Again, it doesn’t want to be impressive, it wants to be enjoyable.
So look at your day. Get meditative about it. Ask yourself if what you’re doing is connected to you enjoying your life, or if you need a big long story about how you’ll enjoy it at another time if you do this or that. You’re either living for your current experience or you’re trying to resolve something in your past or future, but if you’re in the latter group then you cannot truly relax because you’re not even focused on the time you’re alive within. Now is the only time you have. It is impossible to live an enlightened life if you’re not focused on The Now.
Get conscious. Start asking yourself why you’re doing the things you’re doing. Reassess. Just don’t tell yourself the same story and check off the same mental box and then continue blindly on. Really ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. Is this or that truly more important than going and having fun with your spouse or your kids? If the world was going to end tomorrow, which one would you choose?
Try to live like you’re done today. Try to live like all of your striving is over and that you are loved and life is secure. And if you get flickers of what it would be like to live like that all of the time, then chase them. Capture and hold that feeling. Because that is the feeling of being alive in the Now. And that state of mind is, in the end, the only thing in life that can every really be achieved.
Have a wonderful day.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.