So I was thinking about what an artform it is to savor each moment in life. Oh how I want to live each day with a deep appreciation for each and every minute that I encounter. “Suck all the marrow out of life!” “Carpe Diem!” and all that jazz. However, it has taken me a long time to learn that in order to do so, it takes more than a fiery idea or a clever catch phrase. No, no, this kind of thing takes a particular kind of focus. Although some people have a natural tendency towards finding the joy in their surroundings, most people lean towards the opposite. It takes training the mind, which means practicing, which means lots of failure.
For myself, I have countless barriers that keep me from feeling good in most moments. I like to think that I find the joy in everything, but if I am to be honest, most moments leave me apathetic at best. Obviously, my traumatic events and abusive relationships were of no help to getting a good taste of joy. But today, I want to talk about some of the average, day-to-day barriers that prevent me from meeting my savoring each moment goal.
One barrier is my hyper focus on my responsibilities great and small. That check in a box signifying the completion of a task is pleasing on an orgasmic level. Productivity becomes a siren, singing seductive songs of “all work and no play,” (cleverly omitting the dull part). I look at my completed task list and feel satisfied, until I realize the day is gone. I look back and suddenly regret not stopping to admire my husband more or sitting on the floor to play with my children. Was cleaning that dish or sweeping that floor so important that I sacrificed the precious time with the people I love? Of course, taking care of my responsibilities is not all bad, but the balance is so easily swung out of whack. I then look at the check in the box with disdain. It is now a checked box of failure.
The next barrier is my desire to be extremely lazy with my free time. It sounds strange after describing my workaholic tendencies, but it’s true. My nonexistent free time that I force into my hectic schedule is filled with an intense desire to lay down and do absolutely nothing. My recreation is spacing out. I feel so zapped from my workload that putting energy into fun sounds exhausting and not worth the effort. In the moment it feels great and is exactly what I want. But when I look back, I think, why didn’t I do something special? Why didn’t I make that holiday more magical with decorations and music and events? Why didn’t I put the time in to get dressed up and do something that makes one feel alive? Oh yeah, because my idea of fun is to pretend to not exist anymore. Well that is not very moment savoring at all. I am once again filled with regret.
Nostalgia, oh what a barrier this one is! You see, I tend to romanticize the past. Maybe its from watching too many movies, but when I think back on my past, I see it in a montage of faces, words that were said, and emotions that rollercoaster through each scene. While I am in the present moment, I am focused on what I need to do to get through it. However, once the moment becomes a memory, I see it more clearly and see the meaning that the moment brought to my life, either good or bad. I have a respect for the time that it was, and a deeper appreciation that accompanies it. I see that while this is a good thing, the problem then becomes that I still don’t have an appreciation for the current moment. That warm fuzzy nostalgia feeling morphs into a dark realm of emptiness. My sad little brain starts having a devolving thought process. I start feeling huge regret for not savoring those past moments while in them. It’s almost as if I am in mourning for these moments that have died. A strange sort of abandonment issue starts to develop within my psyche. If I lost those moments, then I will lose all the current ones I have now, and nothing is mine to keep forever, and what is the point of anything if I am just going to lose it all?!! Whoa, this is getting out of hand, I tell myself. Clearly, I will never reach my goal of savoring moments with that attitude.
So what is the solution? Well, here are some of the tools I’ve learned so far:
- I assess which kind of moment it is and appreciate it for its individual value.
There is joy to be had in everything. Work, play, relationships, projects, you name it, it has value. So I try not to compare it to another type of moment and just enjoy it for what it is.
- I adjust my tasks as needed in order to have a healthy balance of work and play.
Productivity is good, but more often than not, play is actually more beneficial. Once basic responsibilities have been accomplished, playing can have a more positive effect rather than overworking. The quality of relationships have a huge impact on my happiness. So, those coffee dates just chatting, getting cozy on the couch watching movies, those moments that make me laugh, all help develop quality in my relationships and take precedence to getting an extra chore done.
- When nostalgia hits, I try to find a small something to make it special.
Sometimes, it’s about the little things. Nostalgia brings out the simplest parts of a memory that seemed so unimportant at the time. It brings out the smells, tastes, colors. So if the present moment feels dull, maybe it needs some pizzazz. A lotion or perfume can add a pleasant scent to attach to this current time. Getting an iced coffee can be a caffeine pick me up, but also a taste that I can delight in. Putting on some bright red lipstick can change my attitude from feeling self-loathing to feeling spunky.
I used to think these little things were not to be thought much of because they are not the most important things in the world. But maybe I had not given them the proper credit. Sure, they don’t save lives or anything, but there is so much that can be derived from them if I am smart enough to allow myself to enjoy it.
Savoring each moment is a challenge bigger than I had originally thought, but I now give myself the grace to figure it out. I do not have it all down yet, but I’m practicing, and I am learning.
How do you savor your moments when they feel dull? Feel free to share your ponders in the comments, I would love to hear what you think.