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A Simple Way to Be Present and Live Life to the Fullest

Couple Talking

“As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love—even the most simple action.” ~Eckhart Tolle

People have always told me to stay in the present and make every moment count. I nod my head, manage to stay present for about an hour, and then alternate between living in the past and the future.

It can be a struggle to stay in the now, especially when life seems better in the past.

I am at a huge crossroad in my life, which adds to the struggle of being fully present. Next year I will leave my hometown, where I’ve lived all my life, and move by myself to an unknown city.

It’s easy for me to get caught up worrying about the future. How am I going to support myself? What will my career path be? What If I never find someone to make a life with?

Even though my life is about to drastically change, I know now that I need to enjoy every moment and grasp it right when it’s happening.

Last summer an unexpected stranger taught me a valuable lesson about staying in the present and living to my fullest potential.

In June, I went to an intense music festival. I am a violist, and during this time, I traveled to upstate New York to meet with fellow musicians and spend eight hours each day practicing and rehearsing for upcoming concerts.

I was surrounded by thirty of the best string players in the in the country. It was an intense and nerve-wracking experience showing up the first day, not knowing what to expect and wondering how I was going to keep up.

When I arrived, I tentatively went through the lunch line. I handed my lunch card to a middle-aged worker and scanned the cafeteria anxiously. “Good Morning, Angela,” he said. “So nice to have you here.”

Bob handed back my card and smiled at me genuinely. His kindness jolted me into the present and warmed my heart. I felt lighter after that and continued my day feeling thankful.

I ate eighty-four meals at that cafeteria, and Bob always asked me how my day was going, listened, and offered thoughtful responses, even though there were people behind me,

In three days, he knew every camper’s name, and he even remembered the names of campers that had come years before.

He wasn’t a huge part of my life, but Bob is one of my biggest role models. He didn’t have the most glamorous job, but he always showed up with a smile on his face and was never rude or impatient. He made every day a little brighter for us.

I wondered why Bob wasn’t doing a grander job. It seemed like he would excel at public relations or maybe even sales. My friends later informed me that Bob used to be a professor at the university, but was forced to resign after acquiring an unfortunate illness and started to work in the cafeteria.

Life doesn’t always work out how you think it’s going to turn out. I’m sure Bob never thought that after earning a PhD, he’d work in a cafeteria setting, but what inspired me was the fact that he didn’t let his circumstances derail him.

Bob fully committed to his job and made many people’s day better at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

It amazed me that Bob always seemed to intently listen to my response about my day.

I’ve recognized that I always want to sound like the smartest person in the room. Instead of actively listening to people and giving them the full attention they deserve, I think about next intelligent thing I can say.

Now, I try to actively listen to people and fully give them my attention. I have found active listening to a wonderful tool for staying in the present.

Since last summer, I strive to enjoy every little moment. I live intensely in the present and try to not worry about the past or future. I think we could all stand to do that more. Enjoy your morning tea. Cherish laughing with your friends. Notice the scenery while driving to school.

Also, remember that while that you may have a “boring” job, you can affect people in a positive way if you try to make the best of it. Bob changed my life and he doesn’t even know much about me besides my name and camp experience. That’s power right there.

The most important lesson Bob taught me about staying in the present is that happiness is a choice. You can be in any life situation, but it’s your decision if you want to be happy. Happiness isn’t defined by an external event but rather an internal attitude.

So yeah, I don’t know where I am going to live in a year, who I am going to meet, and what I will be doing. You know what I do know? I know that I will make every moment count and live it to the fullest.

I will appreciate everything and see the light, because even if you are scanning teenager cafeteria cards all summer, you can still have a smile on your face.

Couple talking image via Shutterstock

About Angela Lois

Angela Lois is a twenty-one-year-old musician, writer, and self-growth enthusiast. She is extremely passionate about mental health and mindfulness and dreams of turning her passion into career that allows for growing and healing of individuals from all different areas of life. Angela plans to start her mindfulness blog, Touching Heaven before the year is over. Email her at dancingviola2@gmail to connect!

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  • helen

    This was lovely to read. Really inspiring. Thank you x

  • Abi Burgess

    You are such a wonderful writer. So relatable. I love you <3

  • Angela Baucom

    Thank you so much friend. So lucky to have an inspiring friend like you!

  • Angela Baucom

    Thank you so much, Helen. So glad you enjoyed it. Have a wonderful day!

  • Peace Within

    Love this. Thank you.

  • Angela Baucom

    Thank you for reading! Have a lovely day.

  • Freddie70

    This article made me cry. I recently left a high paying, very stressful job because it was literally killing me as per my doctor. I have been working on rebuilding my life not knowing what my next stable job will be and how things were so clear and straightforward
    previously.

    I realized that I am not alone in making such a major life change and keeping my head in
    the past wont help me move forward. I am going to start focusing on what’s going
    on right now and learning ways to improve my situation. Thank you so much for
    this post!

  • Peace Within

    You too =)

  • Tania Yardley

    Thanks Angela. May the right things find you. My favourite line is “enjoy your morning tea”. That says it all and makes me laugh. I like it. I think I’ll go and enjoy a cup of tea.

  • Elle

    I am a working mom in sales- I often comment on how “busy” I am and don’t have time to “enjoy” anything.. I would like to see my day as an opportunity- instead of a burden- so I love the advice of using active listening as a tool for staying in the moment- brilliant and slows it all down and brings it back to the NOW. I look forward to trying that tomorrow thank you

  • Angela Baucom

    Tania, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I hope you enjoyed your cup of tea;) Have a blessed day, Tania.

  • Angela Baucom

    Elle, I know how that feels! I also go back into the “busy and stressed” mode often. The active listening is such an great tool. I never realized how little I was actually listening to my environment. Thank you so much for reading and your response. I hope you have a wonderful day!

  • Angela Baucom

    Thank you for your honesty! And I commend you for having the courage to leave an unhealthy job. I have full faith there is an amazing job just waiting for you. I wish you the best of luck

  • G

    “Fear is the mind killer” and nothing scares us more than the things we cannot control, the question is why fear what we don’t know and why live walking on eggshells when the inevitable is bound to happen….We make choices and with those choices we have consequences, indulge and splurge and if you fail try again.

    Nobody ever dies regretting that they tried everything but they sure are bitter when they have a whole lot of what if….success comes to those that dare to be great and the ones that throw everything at life, why not do the same…

    We live and we will die but the story that binds the beginning and end is yours to create….be the author of a bestseller not another lame commonality.

  • DH

    Another way to think about “boring” jobs is to perform your best in whatever job you do, not for other people, but for yourself. You don’t have to please anybody else, but you can do what you can at your job because of personal standards and it makes you grow. And paradoxically, people may benefit even more if you operate this way, because you’ll be emanating and expressing yourself in an authentic way.

  • Angela Baucom

    DH,

    What a wonderful insight. You are so right that job is just as important as us as it for them. I hope you have a great day.

    Blessings,
    Angela

  • Angela Baucom

    G,

    This reminder was perfect for me today. You’re right fear is a”mind killer” and can capture us and hold into a sort of internal prison. But, change which causes fear is the only constant in life. So rather than fear it; we should embrace it…to attract more positive change our way.

    I hope you have a wonderful day. Thank you for sharing your beautiful insight.

    My Best,
    Angela

  • I’m still here

    UC Berkeley is a Soviet Republic.