Always walking forward? Sometimes it’s better to be still.
As a Chronic Over-Planner and dreamer, I struggle with living in the future. While my body is stuck in the present, my mind is far afield in the Wonderland of Tomorrow. Psh. That’s a poetic way of stating a real problem. Let me elaborate. I came to Taiwan in August; an amazing realization of a lifelong dream to travel and live abroad. For the year or so preceding this dream, almost all my waking moments were spent planning or dreaming about life here.
All well and good – moving to another country does take planning and careful consideration. But here’s the kicker; now that I’m here, instead of buckling down and enjoying my current life, I’m already on to the next big thing, waiting and planning and dreaming my next move. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME??? Oh, I know exactly what’s wrong, and it happens to a lot of people. Life isn’t lived in continuous spurts of adventure and awesomeness. Those most blissful of moments when we are so happy we don’t think of the time, when we’re really stuck in the now, happen infrequently. Most of life is lived in the everyday, small moments when nothing happens. My life in Taiwan isn’t all that different from life at home. Sure, the environment has changed, but I’m still on the computer an awful lot, I still read a lot of the same kinds of books, I even eat the same now that I’ve figured out cafeteria food doesn’t like me, and my schedule isn’t that strange now. I’ve settled into life here, and it’s powerfully easy to let myself fantasize about future adventures in places where I’m sure it’ll be more frequently exciting.
That’s a delusion and dangerous. Once I realized what I was doing all the time, it scared me that I won’t ever be able to live in the Now. I Googled, I went on blogs, I read some books…it helped me at least to realize I had a problem, and that it was legitimate.
So, if you struggle with this too, what can we do? There’s a few things I’ve found that helped me. First off, realizing you have a problem will help you in overcoming it. (<<So not original.) If you can catch yourself fantasizing, you can stop and say, “Ah, there I go again,” and actively try and stop. I also created a gratefulness list, which helps keep me focused on what I have now that is awesome. I’ll include it at the bottom of this post.
Another really good tip is to find what you enjoy and do more of it. In “Living the 80/20 Way,” author Richard Koch makes the argument that 80% of our enjoyment in life comes from 20% of what we do. Makes sense, when you stop and think. What activities make you lose track of time? What things do you get really lost in? When were you last happiest? For me, I have a pretty short list. Eating out with good friends is on it. Blogging and working on my blog is another thing. What are yours? What can you include more of in your daily life that will help you settle into the moment?
This subject has the potential to fill a book, so I’ll save some related topics for later posts. But if you struggle with living always in the future, take a moment to think and realize it’s a problem, and figure out what you can do to stop.
My gratefulness list:
- I’m alive.
- I’m saved.
- I’m living my dream of travel in Taiwan.
- I have good health.
- I’m with my best friend.
- My work is fairly easy and enjoyable (cute kids!).
- I have opportunities to learn and grow through hardships.
- I’m surrounded by language.
- I’m making enough money to save.
What would be on yours?
(Photo Credit – R.N.)