Having spent the better part of my life trying either to relive the past or experience the future before it arrives, I have come to understand that in between these two extremes is the place to be.
Living your life in the present is absolutely necessary in order to get the most out of life. It sounds like a cliché to say ‘live in the present’; but, in reality, many of us live everywhere except the present moment. Living our lives in the present is a struggle we all face from time to time; that is why this was chosen as the Fourth Kidmandment.
In order for us to teach our children about this concept, we need to understand WHY living in the present is so important, and what the CONSEQUENCES are if we spend too much time either dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
In order to live a life filled with excitement, we must be conscious creators of our own lives. Living in the present helps us be aware of who we are and what we are feeling, by being in touch with our natural energy force. Being conscious of what we are doing in the present—without being influenced by past experiences, fears or emotions—is the doorway to experiencing a natural state of peace. Learning the joy of just “being” is the only way true happiness may be found. The fact of the matter is that the only thing that is real is the present moment. The past is gone; the future is not yet here. So living in the present is our only opportunity to fulfill our hopes and dreams.
Good Parents quote sayings like, “Don’t cry over spilled milk!” Simple, trite sayings like this are nice, but they are superficial. Great Parents go deeper and teach their children about living in the present. By doing so, they arm their children with the tools they need to let go of negative words and negative energy from the past and just enjoy the moment at hand—so they may choose how to positively perceive this present moment.
It is a simple concept, yet a tremendously difficult one to achieve. There are many reasons for this; one of which is that most of us were never taught this concept ourselves.
Let’s not make this mistake for our children. If we introduce this concept at a young age, before they have already learned bad habits, it will be much easier for them to embrace.
It’s never too early to instill these important beliefs in our kids. Of course, it’s never too late, either. Even teens can and will follow our lead, given the opportunity. After all, teens want to be happy too—no matter how hard they may try to hide it.
All of us have been insulted—called “dopey,” “fat” or “ugly”—sometimes, and most painfully, by people we love. Often, we hold on to this “old baggage,” these painful memories and hurt, the rest of our lives.
The scary part is, the more we repeat these insults in our thoughts, the longer we continue to live in the past. And the longer we live in the past, the more baggage we carry. Unfortunately, the more baggage we carry, the more we associate ourselves with negative events and name calling; ultimately, we may define ourselves by those events or insults. Events become stories; stories become labels. Labels begin to stick and dramatically limit our creativity.
Our self esteem can only handle so much negative talk! Before long, we start believing all that crap! People who live in the past suffer because of the pain associated with these negative labels; they allow themselves to get trapped in negative images of themselves.
Instead, what we want for our children (and for ourselves) is to learn from the past, grow stronger and move on.
Living in the past isn’t our only problem. It’s just as destructive for us to live in the future! Some of us fall into the dangerous “I will be happy when…” syndrome.
The problem with living in the future is that it implies that we are not—or cannot be—happy in the present.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t set long-term goals; far from it. We should think ahead, plan for the future and look forward to it, yes. But planning for and eagerly anticipating the future is vastly different from simply believing that “when the future comes,” then we will be happy.
So, how can we teach our kids to keep from living in the past, live happily in the present and help them look forward to a great future?
Actually, this, too, is pretty easy to do: by our actions, of course. If we live in the past—complaining about things that happened to us when we were kids or our spouse’s actions from years ago—this is what our children will learn. If we live in the past, our children will learn to live in the past, no matter what we tell them.
If we live in the future—always talking about how great things will be once we retire, or once we get remarried or when we build the dream house we hope to end up in—we’re unintentionally teaching them that happiness does not come from within, here and now, but only from tomorrow and years to come.
Therefore, we should live our own lives in the present and “model” to our kids that nothing is more rewarding than a good workout, reading a good book or hanging out with friends—today. Our actions will teach them that a Jaguar, a Rolex or a seaside cottage with its own private lagoon will not make them happy, but that happiness comes from within— living in the present moment.
Try to remember that people in general will only listen to half of what we say, but twice of what we do! So I challenge you: Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 on how well you are doing at living your life in the present.
Living your life in the present will not only be doing yourself a favor, but will tech your kids one of the 10 most important skills.