I hesitated to call this blog mindfulness because it’s such an over-used term and I think we have become de-sensitized to it. Mindfulness is not very complicated, it simply means to be present in each moment. We spend much of our lives in fast-forward, thinking and even worrying about the future. We look forward to events with either pleasure of dread.
When we are younger, many times we operate in a fast-forward mode. My son is 11 and won’t be 12 until June but he’s already telling me he’s 12 because it’s closer than 11. I get it, kids want to be older. When we do reach young adulthood, we fast-forward to our desired life, whether it be the perfect spouse, the ideal job, or our dream car. In our younger years, we are always dreaming of more. Dreams are great-we all need to aspire for the best life possible for ourselves.
When I was a young police officer, I couldn’t wait until I felt 100% confident on the job. That’s not bad, either. I simply wanted to know, that no matter what call I received, I would know exactly what to do. If you’ve never been in law enforcement, you can’t imagine how many variables exist even in the most simple of calls.
I reached that point of 100% confidence at about 5 years into the job. I then began to envision going into supervision and at 10 years, I became a sergeant. With personnel issues, I aspired to know exactly what to do in each situation, and I reached that goal, as well.
About 10 years into the job, I began my count down to retirement. I was feeling a bit burnt out and couldn’t believe I still had 10 years to go. I ended up staying for 25 total years. I now look back on those times and realize I didn’t fully appreciate the fact that I was doing my dream job. Those were the times I would miss forever. I got to ride a bicycle, motorcycle and horse during my time there. I wasn’t always in a fast-forward mode; sometimes I would be on my Harley Davidson and realize things could never get better than that.
Looking back, I wish I’d taken every moment in and been 100% present. The people I worked with were the best and we’re still friends. There were times that were heart breaking, like police funerals or just sitting with a rape victim at the hospital. Police work is difficult and it’s hard to explain to those that have never done it what it’s like to spend your days off in court, to tell a family their father has been killed, and to see the terribly unkind things people are capable of. Maybe that’s why I fast-forwarded.
When we get older, we tend to rewind. Those were the days, we tell ourselves. Sometimes we rewind and wish we’d handled things better. Sometimes rewind has regrets embedded in it. When do we simply press play and enjoy the here and now?
Now that I’m middle-aged, I’m doing my best to be present. I love being a parent and enjoy every minute of it. I think that’s one benefit of being an older parent. I wanted to be a parent for so long and my son and I have a rich relationship.
I’m also doing my best to envision something more for myself professionally. I’m middle-aged but not old. I have a lot to offer in terms of experience and education in my industry. I can say with some degree of confidence that I won’t be riding a Harley at work but I can enjoy the relationships developed and be at peace with how I got there.
I’m grateful that I’ve realized that fast-wording is not helping me to live my best life. It’s hard to be grateful in the present when wishing for more. It’s hard to listen to someone in a conversation if my mind is off somewhere else. I am using this mindfulness to be a better parent, better sister, and a better friend. I engage in active listening and try to stop my mind from formulating a response while someone is speaking.
In contrast to this message, consider what will be important in your last hours in this life. Is your car repair, grocery list, or extra pounds what you’ll be focused on? I imagine it will be relationships that will matter to you. Be mindful in those relationships and give them your energy. I have narrowed my circle of influence to those that add something positive to my life. People that are constantly draining and take energy without giving back are no longer in my circle.
Take stock of your life and see where your energy needs to be. I can only focus on today and actually, this very moment. Don’t wait to let people know you’re important to them. Tell them what they mean to you. I’ve freed up so much energy by being present and focusing on what’s important in the present. Don’t give energy to worries that may never happen. If you have a spiritual belief system, let your creator know you’re grateful for this moment, no matter what is happening.
It’s said often that life is short. In fact, life may not be short, but the time we have to accomplish what we’re meant to do is. The distractions of life can take us off course. Decide what’s important to you and put your energy there. That means you need to let go of what is no longer serving you-resentment, regret, anger and all energies that deprive you of the present. Those are energies of the past and, no matter how justified they may be, they are robbing you of the present moment.
The present moment is all we have. Practice being present. Life is made up of simple but wonderful pleasures that we ignore in search of “the big one”. Enjoy that cup of coffee, that phone call from a friend, and watching a movie with your spouse and kids. These small moments are among the greatest pleasures life has to offer.
Breathe it all in, experience these moments with gratitude and peace. Peace in our world begins with each of us as individuals. Peace is not elusive, it is available to you the moment you gather the reigns of your mind. Your mind can either be a team of restless, wild horses or a controlled vehicle with all energy moving in the same direction. That choice begins in this moment.
Peace to your today and always.