Living in the Present-Discussing Eat, Pray Love

If I am being honest with myself (and believe me I try to be at all times) I must admit that I have gone off track in the last few weeks. My eating isn't as clean and wholesome as I prefer it to be, I haven't been able to stick to my training schedule or stay as active as I planned, I haven't been sleeping enough and I have been a bit of a stress tornado, ready to touch down on the next unspecting person or thing in my life. Not good.

On the flip side I am continuing to work my way through two very thought provoking books: Operation Beautiful and Eat, Pray Love. As a believer in the idea that many things happen for a reason I am convinced that this book has made its way into my reading rotation (I often read more then one book at a time- usually a novel and a non-fiction) because I was meant to do some serious thinking about who I am and who I want to be so that I can get back on track and continue moving forward because when I go off track its usually about more then a few too many cookies or a skipped workout. Something under the surface needs some serious attention.

Now we aren't talking major life overhaul here at all, at least not in the sense of a physical relocation or a career change of any kind. What I am looking to do is take inspirations from both these books and apply them to my life, or more importantly the way that I think about my life. I believe happiness isn't always born out of the best circumstances but rather the perspective that people have about them. I need to take that little idea from my own play book and truly live it.

As I am traveling with Elizabeth through India in Eat, Pray, Love I have found myself marking pages that I know I want to re-read because for one reason or another they have spoken to me in some way. One part that stood out was page 132 where she discusses the Buddhist idea of the "monkey mind".

Like most humanoids, I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the "monkey mind"-the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl. From the distant past to the unknowable future, my mind swings wildly through time , touching on dozens of ideas a minute, unharnessed and undisciplined.....Happy thoughts make me happy, but-whoop!- how quickly I swing into an obsessive worry, blowing the mood.....The other problem with swinging through the vines of thought is that you are never where you are. You are always digging in the past or poking at the future, but rarely do you rest in the moment.

This part of the book jumped out at me when I most literally said out loud "I have a monkey mind!". I jump from thought to thought, idea to idea, always planning for the future or dissecting the past. I rarely just look at the moment I am in and allow myself to sigh and think "Gee, this is lovely isn't it?". Uh oh...

 Elizabeth goes on to describe a friend who was surrounded by a beautiful landscape and could only think "I should come back here someday". She was there, in that beautiful, wonderful place in that moment but only thought of how important it was that she return someday. She couldn't just enjoy the moment while she was in it.

And I cringed as I read this because I do it all the time! How often do I spoil a perfect moment by thinking about when the moment will be over and how I will feel then. I so often dwell on the act of leaving a place or a person that I am failing to enjoy the time that I have there.

I know now that living in the present moment is the next step in my journey towards true and lifelong happiness. I must learn to truly appreciate the time that I have and avoid worrying about what has or may happened. I must learn, no matter how cliched it may seem, to stop and smell the roses.

I plan to start by making the conscious effort to stay present as often as possible. I will remind myself why the present is important and what it can teach me about myself. Good, bad or somewhere in between I think that perhaps there is a lesson in everything as long as we choose to recognize it.

For today I am happy that I have taken a day off work and can use it to relax my body and mind. I can catch up on blogs (reading and writing), read EPL, cuddle with the pooch and just thoroughly enjoy a personal day for what it is: A day for me!

So tell me, what makes you happy in the present moment?


  1. Snuggling with my sweet puppy!

  2. I really want to read Eat, Pray, Love as well. You're passage about it definitely fits me at times. I get so wrapped up into moving forward that I often forget to stop and smell the roses. It's a good thing to realize about yourself now, because you can always make changes! :) Happiness for me is biking through farm land. Fresh air, wind in my hair, its almost like flying.

  3. Such a beautifully written post! I admit too that it's a constant struggle to stay positive in the moment. I'm always thinking, "well in the future, I'll be happier because I'll have more money saved, more vacation time, a stable schedule..."
    What makes me happy in the moment? Just being outdoors in a quiet place, with someone I love.

  4. Great post and right on target. I've been suffering for the past week from just feeling "off". What makes me happy in the moment is just to take a minute to think about all the wonderful things and people in my life. I can do that anywhere!

  5. I LOVE Eat, Pray, Love! It's such a good book, so excited for the movie!!!

    I am just all-around happy with my life. I have a job that I truly enjoy and I love where I live and the goals that I'm working towards :)

  6. Great post! I felt the same thing when I read that part - sometimes it's just so hard to focus on one thing isn't it? I've found that since starting hot yoga, I'm able to focus a bit more just on one thought, but this takes a lot of concentration and I can't say that I maintain that focus after I leave the class. Having said that, hearing that you and Elizabeth and lots of other people have the same problem, clearly it is not an easy thing to do!

    Things that make me happy in this present moment are being able to take some time off to focus on what I want to do (rather than what I should do) and just relax!

  7. I do the SAME thing with my thoughts! It drives me crazy, but I can't seem to stop it. I just always have a dialogue running through my mind.

    I can't wait to get my hands on the Eat Pray Love book. I have it on hold at the library and have been waiting for it forever.

  8. wow, what a great reminder! i think that's what causes so much unhappiness: focusing on the past or the unknown. it's something i definitely need to work on. tomorrow will take care of itself!

  9. I've been working hard to change my job situation recently, but I need to keep bringing myself back to what's important in the "now"- I have a great boyfriend who I love very much, I'm loving training for a marathon, and I'm getting to live in a place that I probably never would have had it not been for all of this

  10. I find that the more I go to yoga, the more I am able to stop the monkey mind, and just be present. I've found that I really need yoga to help slow my thoughts and myself down, to enoy the moments, the little ones that go unnoticed for the most part through the hustle and bustle.

    Right now my hubby makes me happy for leaving me a beautiful note. :-)

  11. Great post! I loved reading Eat, Pray, Love. It really made me think and I STILL think about it sometimes. I like this post because you show how you can make changes to your life that are significant, without doing something drastic like moving away. I definitely have a monkey mind too and have trouble living in the present, my mind is always rushing to what I have to do next! I think this is a great thing to work on

  12. I loved Eat Pray Love also! I don't know that the movie can teach me what I learned from the book though.