Last time I wrote about change and living in the moment. Now I’ll talk about how I do this.

Life is hectic. It can be difficult to live in the moment. Living at times is a struggle with the constant bombardment of negativity and pressure. But, it can be done.

Be the eye of the storm.

I grew up in a place where hurricanes were common. One of the things I remember most was the noise, the wind roared like an angry beast threatening to devour all that stood in its path.

The day would begin overcast then on the far horizon I could see the deep gray clouds that grew darker as the weather approached. The winds would pick up in gusts tossing leaves and debris into the air like a maelstrom of confetti. Then the rains came, softly at first, but as the storm grew, the wind whipped the warm droplets into a horizontal frenzy. I’d run inside.

One memory I had as a child was listening to the fury of the winds and I watched in horror as an air-conditioning unit in the window began to move, it vibrated in the frame and rattled like a giant was trying to pull it out into the storm. An angry giant. If it weren’t for my parents boarding up the windows it would have surely been taken by the storm. My grandmother held me as we cowered.

Then, as suddenly as the storm came it was over. We were in the eye, the center of the storm. Outside the sky was blue and all around us were storm clouds.

To me, this is how life is. Chaotic and unpredictable. But, you can be the center of the storm finding balance and equilibrium while life blurs by.

I have a mantra I repeat when life gets too hectic and I’m feeling overwhelmed. It is simple and effective. It is, “Not here, not now.”

It reminds me that the thoughts that are racing through my mind are just that thoughts and may not have any real bearing on what is happening right now. It snaps me out of my virtual reality and puts me smack in the middle of reality. I suddenly realize I am sitting in my office, alone and staring at my monitor. It reminds me that whatever I am concerned about or worried about is not happening at this moment. Or that if it is, I need to take a step back and objectively analyze the situation.  Look for concrete steps of actionable items.

Am I mulling over what is going to happen? Am I frozen by what has happened? But neither is right now, right this moment. It forces me to think and ask, “What can I do right now?”

Living in the moment is about breaking the habit of, borrowing trouble from the future. Or dwelling on what is now the past.

Now there is a distinct difference between thinking of and worrying about future events and taking a nonemotional look at possible events and taking steps to mitigate the damage or result. Instead of running in circles about a possible outcome you say to yourself, “if x happens I will do this.” This is the first step in taking control. Which after all, is what has you in such a tizzy anyway. The loss of control.

No one relishes the feeling that their life is out of control.

To take a nonemotional look at something requires getting out of our own drama. Imagine if this were happening to a coworker and not yourself. How would you help them if they asked? What advice would you give them? What can they do at this moment with what abilities and resources they have at hand?

The same applies to past events. You can’t change the past but you can plan for your future, you can take the lesson learned and take physical steps to deal with it.

There is a French saying that is not too common but I like it because it sums up much of what has happened in my past. It is, “L’esprit de l’escalier” or stairwell wit. Basically, it is when you come up with the perfect comeback but the moment has passed and the only one to hear is the empty stairwell.

To sum up, what have we learned?

That to live in the moment we need to change our bad habit of borrowing trouble from the future and to worry about fixing the past.

We now have the mantra of, “not here, not now.” Our magic spell to focus our attention to where it can actually do some good about what is on our mind. We learned to take a nonemotional look at a situation and take inventory of what we can actually do vs what we want to do.

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