As the author of more than 30 books, including the bestselling series Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, Dr. Richard Carlson helped millions of people create lives of greater peace, connection and caring by focusing on the more important things in life. The last chapter of one of his books is titled "Live This Day As If It Might Be Your Last. It Might Be!" Ironically and sadly, Carlson died unexpectedly at age 45 on a plane flight to New York.
How better to drive home his point?
We really don’t know how long we have in this life. Yet, we spend so much of our life energy mulling over what’s in the past or worrying about what the future holds. We get caught up in the minutia of life, losing sight of the bigger picture of what’s actually important.
How much energy would we free up by living more in the now? How can we optimize the time we have? Here are some ideas:
* Clarify your values and create a life purpose statement. The clearer you are about what’s deeply important to you (your values) and who you are at your core, the more likely you will succeed in living your life "on purpose." Your purpose statement is a guidepost for knowing if you’re going in the right direction and provides information to put you back on course if you’re not acting in alignment with your values and life mission.
* Let the past be the past. How much time do you spend thinking about the past? Do you re-live old memories over and over, or think about what you should have said or done? Do you wish things were like they were in the "good ol’ days?" Whether it’s letting go of anger at the driver who cut you off just this morning, or regretting the loss of your first love, living in the past keeps you from fully experiencing your life right here, right now.
* Release worrying about the future. Mark Twain said something like: I have been through some terrible things in my life, most of which never happened. So much of what we worry about doesn’t happen, yet we spend countless hours and huge amounts of energy battling fantasy problems. Notice how much time you spend worrying about the future and gently remind yourself to return to the present. What physical reminder can you give yourself right now (a post-it note, a ribbon around your wrist) that will help anchor you in the present?
* Keep things in perspective. It’s usually our attachment to things being a certain way that leads to frustration. Practice accepting "what is" if you want to experience a greater sense of peace. Everything that happens is by divine design. Therefore, everything that happens is our teacher. We might not have chosen the timing of these lessons, and don’t necessarily have to enjoy them; however, if we choose the perspective that things happen "for us" and not "to us," life becomes a much more growth-filled, joyous ride!