Now Is the Time to Do the Things That Make You Happy

Woman riding bike

“The trouble is you think you have time.” ~Buddha

When I first read this quote after graduating from college, I fell headfirst into a tailspin of “do it now, do it now, do it now.”

I had to travel the world, while doing yoga, and learning Spanish, and hiking the PCT, and living in different cities, and building my resume, and reading every book ever written.

With every check I put next to an item on my bucket list, I found ten new things that pulled me different directions. I tried to do it all and ironically, felt like I got nowhere. I was so frantically searching for my place and planning my next step that I often neglected where I was.

I was trying to protect myself from feeling regret for not having experienced life to its fullest, but I was so busy doing this that I missed a lot on the way.

The reality is that in the present moment there is nothing to protect myself from; it is the safest place to be.

I began to look at the quote from a different perspective.

There are things that I can put on my to do list—take voice lessons, read that book, bake that cake, run more, practice more. There will always be more to do. However, there are also things I can do to live the life I want to live right now: love, let go, be a good friend, take care of myself.

I do not have time to be paralyzed by the thought of everything I want to do. Now is the time to take baby steps to achieve small goals and put big goals into action.

Now is the time to go on an adventure. It doesn't have to be traveling around the world; just something that makes your heart sing.

Now is the moment to be grateful and step outside and listen to the birds chirping.

Now is the time to let go of fear and allow ourselves to be free.

Now is the time to love.

There is no arrival point. There is no point in the future where there will be more time for self-love, for compassion, or for service.

Now is the time to make decisions not based on what I feel I should be doing, but rather what makes me happy, because when I am happiest, I am able to best love and support the people around me.

And I am happiest when I slow down to appreciate the little things, because in the end it is the little things that create a beautiful life.

I strive to check things off my to-do list, but in slowing down I allow myself to appreciate the space in between.

In yoga, the space in between postures is just as important as the postures themselves, but it often gets neglected. So it is in life; I focus so much on my next step that I forget to enjoy the journey and admire the beauty of where I am.

There is never going to be a perfect time to do everything I want, but by working little goals into my day-to-day life, I can focus on the little things and be patient and trust the big things will come.

I can celebrate achievements on a big scale (“I lived in Peru for four months!”) and on a small scale (“I didn’t eat added sugar for a week!” “I taught my first yoga class!”)

My newest goal is to be patient, grateful, and open to taking each day as it comes. I will not throw my time away, but I will not fear its passing.

Is it possible I won't get to do all the big things I want to do? Sure, that's possible for all of us. But if we do the little things that bring us joy each day, and choose to be fully present and engaged in each moment, there will be nothing to regret.

Woman riding bike image via Shutterstock

About Katie Jensen

Katie Jensen is a life enthusiast, yoga teacher, and occasional hot mess currently enjoying her journey in the Pacific Northwest. She is a lover of travel, connection, adventure, and mother earth. After graduating in 2013, Katie spent two years traveling the world. She is currently taking prerequisite classes in hopes of attending nursing school. Follow her on Instagram at @kayteejay91.

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  • Beautiful post on appreciating the present moment. I couldn’t agree with you more. We live in such a fast paced society that is constantly on the go it’s difficult not to misconstrue what the quote means but you explained it perfectly!

  • Andrea

    Beautiful. I really needed to read this right now – I’m so sick of waiting for things to materialise that I’m missing the beauty of the present moment. I need to pay much more attention to it; funny how we neglect the present moment during the times when if anything we should be paying more attention to it…

  • Katie Jensen

    What kind words! Thank you, Tanka! It is such a blessing to have a community to share little reminders with to stay present and cultivate joy!

  • Katie Jensen

    i agree, Andrea. It is so hard not to get caught up in what is coming next! But it is all part of the beautiful journey. Thank you for the comment! OM OM

  • alison

    lovely.Since my divorce 8 years ago I have accomplished so much-learnt to sail, made new friends, bought my own house, but sometimes I get so tired trying to do it all and kind of prove to myself and everyone else that I’m ok. Discovering mindfulness has helped me to just be, and realisie that it’s ok to just be home alone. Thank you Katie 🙂

  • Katie Jensen

    You are very welcome, Alison. I always am having to remind myself to slow down, but i am so grateful when i do. It is amazing that you got to do all those wonderful things, but nights at home alone are also such a treat. Sounds like you have great self awareness! You go girl!

  • bigdo

    I just.. if there was a way to do the thing I wanted to do, i’d do it now, but there isn’t… so i take baby steps towards other things.. *shrug* i guess that’s all you can do.. maybe it will make you happy, maybe it won’t… at the end of the day there’s always someone that has it way more fucked up than you, so being grateful helps… still, you always wonder, what was behind door number two, or three or four and so on.. Guess if we were supposed to know we would.

  • many times either we drift backwards in the past or get frightened about the going into the future and forget to enjoy the present moment. you have beautifully written on the topic.

  • One of the beautiful things I’ve learned on my own journey is how to make decisions, make them fast, and stick to them. Of course, there are a hundred decisions to make every day, so I make them fast and not worry about the outcome. That practice lends itself well to the more important things in my life. One thing I do look at when I make a major decision is how will doing thing XYZ benefit my life? In how many areas of my life will it impact? Then, I use that as a gauge to start doing the things I really want to do.