My daughter, Dorothy, recently started ballet classes.
After her class ends, she’s taken to standing in the doorway of the studio to watch the older ballerinas. She leans against the doorframe, completely captivated as they stretch and take their place at the barre. It’s the highlight of my weekend—seeing her so delighted by them.
Perhaps I’m projecting here (blame it on the day job), but part of her little ritual also worries me. Does she want to press fast forward on her life so she can be, and dance, like them? Is she missing the beauty and joy in the present moment in favor of dreaming of the future?
That’s a natural impulse, of course, and we all do it at different points in our lives. But I think we do ourselves a disservice when it becomes habit. When we regularly take ourselves out of the present because we’re longing for something to happen, we lose the ability to create lasting memories. Could the stakes be any higher?
If you find yourself wishing life would speed up, I invite you to press pause and focus on today. And if you need some help doing that, here are three tips to bring you back to the here and now.
Pay attention to how much you pay attention to others. If you’re striving for something, take a moment to ask yourself why you want it so badly. Is it because someone you admire is doing it too? Is that enough of a reason to go after it yourself? I once started to pursue a path with my business because I saw others doing it, and it seemed like the logical next step. But when I began putting things in motion to do it, I felt anxious and overwhelmed. When I was honest with myself, I realized I didn’t want my business to be like theirs—it wasn’t authentic to me. So I went back to basics, and you know what? Success followed.
Recognize you’re not always supposed to be happy (and you shouldn’t want to, either). Social media can serve a lot of wonderful purposes, but because it often functions as a highlight reel, we’re tricked into believing we should always be happy. We aren’t and won’t. Sadness, stress, boredom—it’s all a normal part of the human experience, and it’s also usually the most formative part. My hard times have given me clarity of purpose, allowing me to grow and evolve into the person I am today. Be present, even when things get tough, and you just may develop a muscle you didn’t know you had.
Remember that everything is temporary. If you’re not content with where you are now, remember that you were at one point and you will be again. It’s easy to wish our way through uncomfortable seasons, but we often forget that time is doing all of the work for us. It passes—even when we don’t want it to, and with that comes change. It’s easier to be aware of and thankful for the present moment when we recognize how fleeting it really is.
While Dorothy admires the big kids, I hope she’s also enjoying her own journey. And making many lasting memories along the way.
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