Right Here, Right NowJan 24, 2022
This week’s Winning Edge Mindset Blog is written by Richard Jackson MBE – the founder and co-architect of The Winning Edge programme. Here he shares his thoughts on why living in the now is so important to our mental wellbeing and how we find out where we really want to be...
One of my son-in-law’s is celebrating his 50th Birthday and it’s led me to reflect on how it doesn’t seem that long ago since I celebrated mine. Only it was some time ago. Because time goes so quickly, and the older we get, it seems to go even quicker.
What’s the antidote to this? How do we slow everything down and be ‘present’ and make the most of what we’ve got, whilst also having our eye on the prize and having a sense of purpose?
Now- it's the only place where you can spend your time and wherever you are while you're reading this - is now.
There is only now, it’s the only place you can live and even if you assume that now is as long as a minute, you only get 1,440 of those each day; you can’t bank them. Once they’ve been spent, you can never get them back.
So few people live in the now, the present; they either live in the past - regretting what they have or haven't done, or they live in the future - worrying about what might or might not happen.
You can’t live backwards, you can only learn backwards. You can’t live forwards, but you can plan for the future whilst enjoying the ‘now’.
That’s why it’s so sad so many people seem to sleepwalk through life, never noticing all the special things and people around them. It's why they end up, at whatever age they are, not knowing how they got there.
It's so easy to blame our parents, employer, the government, societal pressures, our manager, our spouse/partner/parents/friends/children – for where we are in life, the list of suspects for our woes is potentially endless.
Of course, there will always be people who’ve had such traumatic experiences that they have a right to absolve themselves of responsibility for who and where they are, but it can be said that this applies only to a very, very few.
I’m sure you’ve heard people say such things as: ‘I have to go to work’, ‘I have to pay my mortgage/rent’, ‘I have to pay off my credit card bill’, ‘I have to take the kids to their clubs every Saturday’, ‘I have to do what my manager says’, ‘I have to visit the in-laws’, 'I have to wash the car’, ‘…do the ironing’ – you get the picture.
When people say: ‘I have to go to work’, the question to ask is: ‘Does everybody work?’ The answer: ‘no’. So, why do you work? You work so that you can achieve the kind of lifestyle or money or self-respect you would not have if you chose not to work. Do we have to pay the mortgage or rent? Does everybody? No. Does everybody pay off their credit card? No. Does everybody visit their in-laws? No.
The stark truth is that whenever we have a choice between two or more options, we always choose the one that suits us best. In fact, we always do what we want to do at any one time based on our values and emotional needs and the consequences of doing or not doing whatever it is. There are consequences and outcomes to our choices in life and so we always behave in a way that is consistent with our emotional needs. When we make a choice, it's always the easiest for us emotionally at that time compared with any other choice at that time.
Many years ago, a man told me that he had to look after his terminally ill mother-in-law. He and his wife hadn't had a break away for three years and he said he had to do it because he was doing it for his mother-in-law. When he realised that he was looking after her because he would feel guilty if he didn't and that nobody could make him do it, he decided to re-build the relationship with his mother-in-law that his blindness had broken. He also saw himself in a more positive light – that he could take some credit and self-esteem for what he was doing because he freely chose to do it. He realised he should be proud of his values – what was important to him.
How many of us have resented other people for things that we choose to do? Parents complain about running their children around - the 'taxi service' as it's called - without ever realising that they run their children around because they love them and want them to enjoy their after-school clubs or evening activities, to broaden their horizons and give them great experiences.
We don't always like what we choose or want to do, but we always choose the option with the consequences that are easiest for us to bear emotionally.
Here’s something to get things into perspective - how many days do you think there are in an average lifetime? Take a guess: 30,000 days? 50,000? 100,000? 150,000? 200,000? 250,000 days or more… The majority estimate it at more than 100,000. Many come up with 250,000.
In fact, the number of days in the average lifetime in the Western world is around 30,000 - and you've probably used up quite a few already.
And I hope you enjoy your weekends because you get around 4,000 and you've already had several.
You may know that according to the Bible, we are supposed to get around three score years and ten in an average lifetime, which means around 70 years. The average has gone up since those dim and distant times but let's stick with those 70 years, purely for illustrative purposes. Many moons ago, when I was 49, a very good friend of mine said to me: if you get 70 years, allocate a day of the week to each of those decades – 7 days, 7 decades, it means if you were born on Monday Richard, you’re now way past Friday lunchtime.
Now you work out which day of the week you’re on – 0 to ten is Monday, 11 to 20 is Tuesday, 21 to 30 is Wednesday etc – and I bet you will wish you are on one day less.
I'm on Bank Holiday Monday and I know that I am squeezing the juice out of that day!
Life is going so quickly, and we need to value each precious day. As Jim Rohn, the business philosopher said: 'Wherever you are, be there'. When you're with loved ones, be there in every sense of the word - not just physically, but emotionally too. Switch off the mobile or the tablet, close the laptop lid and make the most of the precious time you have with those you care about. And stop and smell those roses once in a while. And when you're at work, be at work - in every sense of the word.
So, next time you find yourself complaining about where you are - where you're spending your 'now', check out where your feet are because they always confirm that you're where you want to be.
Make the most of ‘now' or go somewhere else; life is too short to spend much of it not making the most of it.
. . . . . . .
How good are you at living in the moment, enjoying the now? Or are you constantly thinking about the next thing you need to be tackling? In the busyness of our lives, it can feel challenging to stop and smell the roses but stopping and smelling the roses helps to keep us grounded and present. Yes, keep your eye on the prize – on future goals but it’s also important to live in the moment.
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