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?