Being a present-moment kind of girl has never been one of my strengths.
On the positive side of things, I’m an ambitious, achievement-focused kind of person.
On the negative, I worry a lot about things that don’t need to clog up today.
Sometimes this means you’ll catch see me gazing out the window on car drives, ignoring my car mates, miles away from where I’m actually at — stewing on what should happen in the next three years.
Other times, that means sitting at Andy’s dining room table in beautiful Oregon, worrying about what next Tuesday will be like when I’m back home in Atlanta.
Both are unnecessary.
Today is point A and I’m always battling the desire to know about point C. What about what’s after the next thing?
I’ll be honest though; while it’s helped me accomplish a lot, that phrase about “depressed people are living in the past and anxious people living in the future?” I’ve had my fair dealings with anxiety.
A great accomplishment over the past two years has been that — I’ve let a lot go. I’ve found balance in being in the moment and anticipating what comes next.
And a lot of that came from realizing how little control you can have in life. Realizing that sometimes the best things are unplanned.
For me that’s meant finding a new everyday life rhythm.
I’m content in my job and while I want to grow and move up the chain; my todays are focused on doing my tasks better than yesterday; learning something new every opportunity and finding ways to set myself apart.
In my personal life I’ve found a lot of peace in strengthening my faith. i don’t control the overall tide of life myself; but I can trust in the one who does. And I can have good faith that if I’m focused on today; tomorrow is going to come together.
How many times have I written about this? A lot.
The reason I write about it today is because one of the best ways to STOP worrying about the future is to acknowledge your worry. Realize that it’s pointless. Find the motivation of what’s REALLY getting to you. Make a plan, if you can, for how to absolve that. And then redirect your focus positively in the moment.
And sometimes writing about it is the best way.
Being in a long-distance relationship has affected my ability to not worry about the future in polar opposite ways.
When Andy and I are together, it’s almost paralyzing how much I want to worry about fixing this long-distance 3,000 mile issue immediately. Then in other ways, it’s so much more complicated than a quick fix — that I realize i only need to focus on the way his hair smells. What his shirt feels like when I hug him. How nice it is to go to the store together. The crunch of his steps next to mine when we take a hike. How the intonation of his voice changes at different times of day. Or how when he gets really sleepy he starts twitching. Those are nice things people who see each other everyday appreciate also; but for us when we’re together–they’re intensely meaningful.
This time last year when I visited Seattle for the first time and Andy and I were embarking on our first stint apart; I experienced for the first time “present worry.” I was in the moment — experiencing Seattle and precious time with him. But I was worrying about when the present would end. Worrying about having to get on a plane and say “see you later.”
We had brought burritos up to his favorite park in Queen Anne to look out at the Space Needle and under the bench we shared was a simple plaque that said:
“Present Moment, Only Moment.”
Maybe to you, it’s kind of a “duh.”
But in THAT moment. I thought “I’m such an idiot. I need to just look around. I need to just give him a hug. I need to just be here.”
Ever since Andy and I saw that plaque it’s been a way of living when we have these stolen days together.
It’s a mantra when I get sad thinking about missing him–and he’s sitting next to me. It’s a meditation when I’m tempted to daydream about the “what ifs.”
As a result of HAVING to stay in the moment I’ve come up with my own list of ways to control yourself when you get all worked up about controlling life:
- Take in the five senses of right this second. What do I smell? How does that fabric feel? Have I ever seen the light fall like that? Isolate the sounds floating through the room.
- Keep my phone tucked away as much as possible.
- Abolish a schedule and instead focus on overall task priorities for the day.
- Actively acknowledge a desire to think about the future or worry // and deny it. “No, we’re right here right now.”
- Start your day with a prayer. Give away those worries at the start so that your day can stay clean. (This is my favorite.)
- Create conversations. Mull over the best questions. Put your heart into it.
- Distract yourself with something new happening TODAY. See something for the first time. Find a new route to take. Try a fresh recipe. Stop by that bar that always catches your eye.