This post was originally written by Leo Babauta for Zen Habits. Republished here with permission.
Our lives are spent building up to more important moments, later, the moments when we’ll be happy. But when those moments come, we’re not happier. In fact, we’re already looking ahead to the next big moments: an upcoming trip, a big project being completed, meeting up with friends, getting that great thing you ordered online, finding your next favorite book, meal, drink, experience. Here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for.
The Moment You’ve Been Waiting For
What if that wonderful moment we’ve been waiting for is this one, right now?
What if this very moment is the most important moment of our lives?
What if we stopped working for something later, and instead started paying full attention to right now?
What if we stopped thinking happiness is coming soon, and tried to see what was in front of us, and find happiness in that?
What if this were the moment we’ve been waiting for all along?
How to Appreciate This Moment We’ve Been Waiting For
If this is the most important moment of your life, some ways you could appreciate it:
- Stop right now and notice what is right in front of you. Find a way to be grateful for this particular moment.
- If you are looking forward to something in the future (or anticipating anything in the future), turn instead to what’s right here, and see this as your big moment, filled with wonder and the brilliance of life.
- If you are rushing (like I often am), instead give yourself the gift of full attention to right now.
- If you have to hurry for some reason … you can move quickly and still appreciate this moment, appreciate your motion, appreciate how your body feels in the middle of this.
- If your life seems “blah” right now, compared to how you would like it to be … take this as a beautiful opportunity to examine your ideals about life (why does it need to be exciting or entertaining?), to practice letting them go, and to see the incredible richness of the life around you, if you pay close attention and find curiosity inside you. This is a gorgeous opportunity, to be appreciated.
- If you are going through difficulty or pain … see this as a good opportunity to turn towards your pain or difficult feelings (anger, depression, frustration) … to be present with it, to stay with it, to be curious about it, to be kind towards it … maybe this moment isn’t filled with joy, but it’s still the most important moment of your life, because in this moment, you find the mindfulness and courage to open your heart to your actual experience, to see it as a path for learning, growth, and open-heartedness, to use it as a touching point into the goodness that’s inside of you.
- If this moment is filled with fear, uncertainty, immense change, or anxiety … see this as a powerfully important moment to turn towards these feelings, to see that you’re reacting to the great groundlessness of your life at the moment, and to start to learn to embrace this groundlessness, not as something to run from or push away or be reactive towards … but to get comfortable with. If you can find peace in the middle of groundlessness, you open up to the ever-changing nature of life, and can be at peace no matter what life throws at you.
- If there is someone with you right now, you can turn towards them and open up to who they are right now, and see them as a manifestation of life’s incredible beauty. How can you appreciate this human being, and see that your time with them is limited and precious?
- No matter what you’re doing, you can turn inward and see the innate goodness in your heart. This is always there, always accessible to us, and something not to be taken for granted. Also appreciate your body, your eyes that can see flowers and the sky, your ears that can hear laughter and music, your feet that can walk the Earth, your breath.
These are just a few ideas — let yourself explore a thousand other ways to appreciate this most important of moments, in the most loving way you can — with your full attention.