“Don’t miss all the beautiful colors of the rainbow looking for that pot of gold.” ~Unknown
Have you noticed that time seems to go by faster as you get older? Holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries all come and go—and before we know it, here they come again.
One theory neuroscientists have is that when we are young we have more novel experiences. These novel experiences create more vivid memories. As we age, we have less “new” or “first time” experiences. There are no unique memories to stand out.
We can also look at it another way. When we’re doing something new, we’re very focused and “in the moment.” Time seems to stand still because we’re not thinking about the past or the future. We are truly living in the present.
So then by being present in our lives, no matter what we’re doing—cleaning dishes, writing a paper, or watching a sunset—or how old we are, we can experience it like it’s a “first time.”
How often are we truly present in our lives? It’s hard, isn’t it? We have so many things to do, places to be, people to see.
We all know that we should slow down and enjoy life more. We may try for a little while, but then we're off to the races again, filling our lives with more busyness and distractions.
We start our day with well-meaning intentions: kindness, compassion, patience, and love. Then stuff happens—we hit traffic, computer goes on the fritz, or have an argument with our significant other. By mid-day, we often find ourselves worn down, defensive, and depleted.
As a massage therapist, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with many interesting people, from actors and musicians to teachers and retirees. We share life’s ups and downs—joys and sorrows from birthdays and weddings to sickness and death.
Our perspective determines how we see and judge everything in life. And try as we may, we cannot run from the perspective that comes from growing older.
I’m lucky to work with many older clients who remind me of what’s really important in life. And what I hear most is how fast life passes you by. And the advice I hear most often: to really try to enjoy every moment.
Which then boils down to presence—presence with people, with activities, with whatever’s in front of us.
PRESENCE WITH OTHERS
No matter what you’re dealing with in life, be gracious to others. Be grateful for what you have in your life and be willing to “pay it forward.”
Be present with your loved ones.
With all the distractions around us, it’s easy to get sidetracked. We may be tempted to “multi-task” by checking email or sending text messages while talking to them. But it’s so important to let your loved ones know that they’re being heard and that you value your relationship with them.
Be present with everyone you encounter.
Whether it’s a clerk at a grocery store, your neighbor, or a co-worker. Oprah has said that after talking to almost 30,000 people on her show, she’s found that everyone has the same desire—to know they are seen, they are heard, and that what they say matters.
Be yourself; don’t try to impress.
We waste a lot of time worrying about finding the right outfit or making our hair look just right to be “presentable” If you want to wear a muumuu with tennis shoes, do it!
Nurture your friendships.
As we grow older, it’s so important to have our friends to lean on, to cheer us up, and keep us going.
Always have a good joke to tell.
Everyone loves a good joke and laughter can be healing as well as contagious!
PRESENCE WHEN IT'S NOT EASY
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Know what’s absolutely important in your life and don’t get caught up in the petty things.
Don’t let your happiness depend on circumstances. You can decide to be happy, no matter what’s happening around you.
Keep music in your life.
Music can be very therapeutic and can help boost your mood. You can take a dance class, learn how to play an instrument, or just rock out at home to your favorite music.
Let go of grudges.
Do yourself a favor and find a way to forgive and move on. Holding on to bitterness and anger will only hurt you. It doesn’t mean you necessarily forget what happened, but forgiveness allows you to release the negative and make more room for the positive.
It all boils down to remembering what’s important in life. And we definitely don’t have to wait until we’re retired to do that. We can decide today, no matter what we’re doing or whom we’re with, to let this moment know: yes, I see you, I hear you, and you matter.
Photo by Alice Popkorn