Cherish the Present Moment

Family Trip

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look to another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

 

It’s easy to forget what a blessing this one day, this one moment is. But everything you are experiencing today is never going to come about again. If you have children, they are growing and changing right before your eyes. Music and fashion are changing and evolving.

And you are changing too.

It’s so tempting to look to the future and imagine that it will be better than today. In some distant land, some distant future, we think we will have enough – enough money, enough love, enough leisure. Maybe even enough happiness.

But what if that day never comes? What if this is as good as it gets?

What if all the blessings you are ever going to get are already in your possession?

An even more sobering thought is this:

What if everything you have today were all about to be taken from you as soon as tomorrow – your health, your security, your loved ones? What you would yearn for then would be to have exactly what you have today.

You are surrounded by little blessings you take for granted, and every one of them will be yours only for a short time. It’s such a human tendency to not realize how good you have it until the blessings you have are lost.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s time to embrace and truly appreciate the magic and beauty and uniqueness of this one moment in time.

Keeping Things in Perspective

A friend of mine at one time was a branch manager at a bank when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Once a person hears the word “cancer” everything changes. Everything you once thought mattered suddenly isn’t all that important. My friend told me that one day two of her staff members were arguing about whether the shades on the window should be up or down. Since she was the manager, they wanted her to make the decision. She looked at them blankly and said, “It really doesn’t matter to me. I have bigger things to worry about, like whether I’m going to live or not.”

Whether or not you are facing a health crisis or any other kind of crisis in your life at this time, keep things in perspective. Don’t let the little things become more important than appreciating this one moment and the things and people that fill your life, things and people you should be cherishing.

This moment in time is a very precious gift. Don’t waste it wishing for things you may never get, or yearning for things to happen that may never happen.

Remember the words of Walt Whitman, which are “Happiness, not in another place but this place….not for another hour, but this hour.”

Don’t wait to be happy. This minute and this hour are worth cherishing.

Break the Habit of Worrying

nervous
 “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”
~ Leo Buscaglia

Worry. Can you think of anything that burns up so much of your life for no real purpose?

I admit I can be a worrywart myself. For example, if one of my daughters is late coming home, I may start to imagine that she has been in a car accident or that some other catastrophe has happened.

It’s silly, and I’m very conscious of that silliness.

I’ve been working on breaking the habit of worrying. So much of what I worry about hasn’t happened and isn’t ever going to. I know I’m not alone in having this bad habit.

Can you relate? How much of your unhappiness is caused by the habit of worrying? Of all the ways you can spend your time, worrying is one of the least productive.

Worrying is a sense of uneasiness, often accompanied by imagining or expecting the worst. When you are worrying, you think that something bad may be about to happen. Your mind continually returns to a dreadful, imagined scenario in your mind, and you can’t seem to let it go. You might stay stuck, completely focused on this figment of your imagination. Your thinking might become obsessive and intense.

As Erma Bombeck said, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.”

Why Worrying is so Bad for You

 A sense of impending doom can have a negative impact on both your physical and mental health. When you are caught up in worrisome thoughts, your anxiety level rises. You may feel threatened and out of control. When others tell you to snap out of it, you don’t feel any better. In fact, the more you’re told not to worry, the more worried you may feel.

If you worry frequently, the hours you spend worrying are being wasted rather than being spent on something more productive. But that’s only a small part of the reason worrying is bad for you. You may feel so anxious that you may turn to medication, alcohol, cigarettes or food.

Some people are so consumed with irrational thoughts that they are unable to focus on their job or other responsibilities. Worrying and anxiety can cause physical symptoms, such as headaches or muscle tension. It can even lead to dizziness or a fast heartbeat. It can make you a lot less productive.

Replace Worrying with Better Habits

It’s clear that spending a lot of time worrying about things that may not happen, or things that are inevitable that you can’t change isn’t doing you any good and doesn’t lead to a happy life.

Use the energy and increased alertness you feel to do something productive. Scrub your kitchen, weed the garden, walk around the block. Work out with weights or do any form of exercise.

Worrying about something far in the future is wasting the gift of this present moment. Bring back your focus onto today. Try to picture a positive outcome rather than a negative one.

In life there are things you can control and things you can’t. While you may not be able to eliminate the worrying habit completely, you may be able to reduce the time you spend worrying. Try telling yourself that you are only allowed to worry for five or ten minutes and then you are going to have to do something else.

As Mark Twain said, “Drag your thoughts away from your troubles….by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.”

Worrying often makes things look worse than they are. You might not be able to simply tell yourself to stop worrying, but see if you can replace the habit of worrying with something better.

John Lubbock said, “A day of worry is more exhausting than a day of work.”

Let’s find something better to do.

12 Things I Love About Spring

Curious Cutie
“With the coming of spring, I am calm again.”

~ Gustav Mahler  

I remember when I lived in Massachusetts and my mother would say that spring was her favorite season. I couldn’t relate. The problem for me at the time was that in New England, spring comes late and doesn’t stay long.

Now, living in the south, spring comes much earlier and with much more gusto. It’s truly a time of new beginnings and every spring I get a sense of relief that the cold days have passed again.

I have come up with 12 things I love about this time of year.

Living creatures are twitterpated. If you have seen Bambi, you know what I’m talking about. Geese segregate into pairs. So do ducks. So do bees and small birds. There is a feeling of happiness and mingling in the air.

Butterflies. I love the sight of butterflies. Big ones, small ones, brightly colored ones, less colorful ones. They dip, soar and fly quickly, announcing the arrival of spring.

New life. We have geese living behind the apartment complex where I live, and every spring they deliver a fresh batch of tiny yellow goslings. In the trees are new nests for smaller birds, and everywhere I look there is new life: tiny toads, tiny birds, tiny fish.

The sound of birds singing. More than any other time of year, the air is filled with the sound of songbirds singing happily. There is a cardinal that comes to my window daily and tweets until I look up and acknowledge his presence. There is a mockingbird that begins making a variety of sounds right outside my window at dawn.

Crocuses. Maybe my New England roots are showing, but I’m very fond of crocuses, the first plants to show a sign of life in the spring.

Buds on the trees. Another sign of rebirth is the hint of life that starts to show on bare branches. As trees are covered with more and more leaves, some of them burst into flower, seemingly overnight.

Green grass. When the grass gradually transitions from brownness and drabness into a burst of bright green, it is a reminder that the season of beauty and life has returned.

Dandelion seeds. I am not a homeowner, so I find tufts of dandelion seeds delightful. My grandchildren blow the white tufts off the stems, and my heart smiles, remembering.

Lilacs. What is more refreshing in the spring than the smell of lilacs? In high school, I walked to school and passed several lilac trees on the way. I could inhale the unforgettable fragrance, and the smell of lilacs still brings me joy.

Tennis and other spring sports. Tennis will always be dear to my heart, and as the weather starts to warm, it’s a reminder that it’s time to pick up a racket. Some prefer baseball, biking or jogging, but whatever sport appeals to you, it’s time to step outside and be more active.

Warmth. The feeling of the sun on my face is one of the best things I can ever experience. What a relief to put away sweaters and winter coats.

Hope of a new beginning. It’s time to start over, experience joy, comfort, curiosity and rebirth.

It’s spring.

The late Robin Williams said, “Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’”

Enjoy this exquisite spring day.

What do you love about spring?

Share a Smile Today

Keep smiling“Remember even though the outside world might be raining, if you keep on smiling the sun will soon show its face and smile back at you.”    ~ Anna Lee

 

A week or so ago, the husband of an older woman that I work with suddenly passed away. He hadn’t been ill for very long, so I thought she might be devastated. I wasn’t really sure what to say to her. I am a widow myself, but my husband was sick for many years, so I had plenty of time to prepare mentally for his eventual passing.

I spoke to her today to express my sympathy and she replied that she had so much admiration for me because during my husband’s illness I was able to keep showing up to work. “You always managed to keep smiling,” she commented. She told me that I had been on her mind, that my ability to keep smiling had given her courage.

How and Why I Kept Smiling in Hard Times

There were very difficult days during my husband’s illness. For month after month, year after year, I was juggling work, family responsibilities, taking care of his round the clock care and financial struggles. As his illness progressed, I got less and less sleep. I was tired to the bone, and kept putting one foot in front of the other.

According to my friend, I kept smiling.

What I knew during that time was that feeling sorry for myself didn’t do any good. It didn’t change what was going on outside. It didn’t change that there were large, painful circumstances beyond my control. It didn’t change the fact that my husband was dying.

I was taught years ago to say The Serenity Prayer when I feel weak and vulnerable. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

I couldn’t change my circumstances. I couldn’t make my husband’s illness go away.

I had control over only one thing and that was my own attitude.

There was an even bigger reason that I kept smiling. I learned a long time ago that if you act as if something is true, it sometimes becomes true. If I pretended to be happy, confident and self-assured, I was a lot closer to being just that.

Smiling is Contagious

 Did you ever notice that most of the time, if you smile, other people smile back? Although this isn’t true 100% of the time, it is true quite often.

A warm smile from a loved one, a grin from an acquaintance, even the curled corners of the mouth of your dog may be just the thing you need to lift your mood.

Even if you are hurting inside, smiling at others because you know it makes them feel good is the right thing to do. Spreading misery and negative energy doesn’t make your problem go away, and it may increase the burdens of other people.

Find a reason to smile today and find someone to share a smile with.

 

The Gift of Love in All Its Forms

 MUMS HUGS
“Love is the master key that opens the gate of happiness.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes

This morning I dropped the three grandchildren who live with me off at school. My grandson who is usually less affectionate than his sisters, turned and called over his shoulder, “I love you!”

It was a simple thing, but a moment that helped me to start my day with a smile in my heart.

What is more precious to experience than love?

When people think of love, they often think of romantic love. As a widow, that type of love is no longer part of my life, although I admit holding precious memories in my heart of that experience.

There are plenty of other kinds of love. Today as a grandmother in the autumn of my life, my heart is still warmed by glimpses of the love I do have in my life. I admit there are times that I feel a bit sorry for myself, sure that others have lives that are fuller and more blessed than mine, but I know in my heart that I have all I need.

What I have and who I have in my life is enough.

The Love of Children

 My maternal instincts have always been very strong. I have always cherished my children with a deeper love than I ever felt for anyone else. The unconditional love of a small child is the closest I have ever felt to God.

Years ago I remember my mother watching a talk show on TV and the question was asked, “Who do you love more – your husband or your children?” My mother adamantly stated that she loved her husband much more deeply than her children. The audience was fairly evenly divided in their responses.

I don’t think it’s really important to compare the different kinds of love I have experienced. To me the type of love I felt for my husband when he was alive and the love I felt for my children was a completely different experience. But the depth of unconditional love that comes from children is incomparable.

The Love of Close Family Members and Those Like Family

To experience love from close family members is another huge blessing. Whether you have been able to develop a deep, intimate relationship with a spouse, parents, siblings, cousins, grandparents or aunts and uncles, you are blessed.

Certainly some families are closer than others, but to have a family is to have sense of belonging to someone.

Some would say that blood is thicker than water, while others would say the people they choose to love are much more important to them than the ones who happened to be related to them.

I say it doesn’t matter. Or as Jane Howard said, “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”

I am so grateful to have people to love. Who are the people bringing love to your life today?

A New Year of Possibilities

Sunshine Lotus

photo:

“In this moment, there is plenty of time. In this moment, you are precisely as you should be. In this moment, there is infinite possibility.”

~ Victoria Moran

 

When a new year begins, it is a reminder that anything is possible. Whatever resolutions you have failed to keep in the past, whatever disappointments you have experienced, today is a reminder to pick yourself up and try again.

Anything is possible.

Just because you haven’t attained your heart’s desire up to now doesn’t mean you won’t.

Isn’t that exciting? The future lies ahead and can be so much better than anything that has happened up to now.

Mistakes don’t have to repeat themselves. Today offers the opportunity for a new beginning.

You are closer to success and happiness than you think you are.

This year, there will be enough time, enough money, enough possibilities. You are exactly where you are supposed to be, surrounded by the people you are meant to have in your life. The events of your life are unfolding exactly the way they are supposed to.

As Randy Pausch taught in his Last Lecture, the brick walls you have encountered are there for a reason. They are there to develop your persistence and perseverance. They are there to remind you to take a leap of faith.

You can do it.

Today is a blank page in an unwritten book. It’s up to you to fill the blank pages with good thoughts, positive attitudes and upbeat reactions.

Letting Go of the Past

Do you find yourself looking over your shoulder at mistakes you have made, goals you may have failed to attain or things you haven’t done quite right?

Let it go.

As Oprah Winfrey said, “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”

Your mistakes don’t have to define you. Just because you have failed in the past doesn’t mean you will always fail.

You are closer than you think to happiness, unlimited possibilities and becoming the best person that you can be.

Today is a new beginning, the start of a new year and a new chance to do the right thing. Starting now you can strive toward meeting your potential and know that the best days of your life are ahead of you.

Embrace the present and the chance to start over and try again. Believe in the possibilities that are all around you today.

This can be your best year ever. All you have to do is believe.

 

50 Reasons to be Happy

Beach Fun
“Be happy for no reason, like a child.”
~ Deepak Chopra

Can you think of reasons to be happy today? Here are 50:

 

 

  1. You’re alive
  2. Somebody loves you
  3. You can read
  4. You have enough to eat
  5. You have safe, pure, drinking water
  6. You have a roof over your head
  7. You have experienced the kindness of strangers
  8. There is more to learn
  9. There is more to do
  10. You’ve made a difference in the life of at least one person
  11. You have a dream
  12. Hugs and kisses
  13. Sunshine
  14. Learning from others
  15. Learning from your mistakes
  16. You have at least one friend
  17. There are many more friends you haven’t met yet
  18. The internet puts the world at your fingertips
  19. The power of imagination
  20. The hope of new life: babies, puppies, kittens
  21. The eagerness and excitement of children
  22. The wisdom of the elderly
  23. The joy of memories: you can remember the happiest day you ever had
  24. Clouds
  25. Stars
  26. You are right where you are supposed to be
  27. The universe is unfolding as it should
  28. Seasons
  29. Music
  30. Social media keeps you connected to old friends
  31. You can express your opinion
  32. Deep breaths
  33. The aroma of good food, fresh coffee, the ocean, candles
  34. The new opportunities of each new day
  35. You have another chance to try again
  36. Family: parents, grandparents, children, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles
  37. You believe in something or someone
  38. Unconditional love of children and pets
  39. Flowers
  40. Movies
  41. Color
  42. Birds
  43. Butterflies
  44. Taking time to play: sports, dancing, board games, swings
  45. Smiles are contagious
  46. Laughter
  47. You have what you need for this one day
  48. The inner peace of loving what is
  49. Possibilities
  50. The best is yet to come
photo by:

Spreading Happiness When We’re Feeling Sad

Broken Flowers
“The greatest gift we give to someone who loves us is simply to be happy.”
~ Robert Brault

Some days it’s easier to be happy than other days. We suffer disappointment and loss and it shows all over our faces.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have our way all the time? In a perfect world, we would always have plenty of money and be surrounded by love. We would be free of aches and pains and have no memory of hurts or disappointments. All the traffic lights would be green. It would never be cloudy or rainy or too hot or too cold. Cars would never break down, strangers would never be rude. There would be no illness or death or unemployment. We wouldn’t have to be afraid of not getting what we wanted.

It’s not a perfect world.

When we choose to dwell on what isn’t perfect in life, we allow our inner peace and contentment to slip away. Worse than that, when we carry an aura of gloominess or sadness, our negative energy quickly spreads to others. Frowns can be as contagious as yawns to everyone we run into, including strangers and those we love the most.

When people we love see us frowning or scowling, it may be hard for them to hang onto their own good mood. Suddenly their smiles become frowns too.

Hanging onto what is good

Life is like an hourglass and the sands are slipping through imperceptibly. In spite of today’s imperfections, there is still plenty to be happy about in this one day.

What is good in your life today? Did you have the opportunity to listen to your favorite song or to walk through the park? Did you enjoy a good meal or get a hug from a child?

Hang onto what’s good.

And remember to smile.

When our hearts feel wounded or sad, we can remind ourselves that the people we love need to see our strength and courage. Even if we feel gloomy, we can practice pretending to be happy.

Can you find the strength to smile at a dozen strangers today?

Can you bring some positive energy the people who love you?

Sometimes pretending to be cheerful can make us feel a little more cheerful.

Whatever bad times we are experiencing, they are temporary. They aren’t the end of the world.

Better days are coming. And everything is going to be ok.

 

photo by:

Enjoying Happiness in This One Moment

Joy (Explored)“Be happy for this one moment. This moment is your life.”
                       ~ Omar Khayyam

 

You can choose happiness just for this one moment. You don’t have to decide to be happy for the whole year or the whole week or even the whole day. Take a single moment out of today and choose to be happy.

Do you think this is difficult?

Life is full of bumps in the road and times that aren’t perfect. If you’re living a life that is full of sadness, loneliness or disappointment, bring your focus back to this one day and this one moment. Look for one thing or one person to appreciate right now.

If the sun is shining, enjoy the brilliance and the warmth.

If it’s cold or rainy, experience the refreshment of the universe all around. Be grateful for your home where you have a roof over your head and a place to call your own.

If it is quiet around you, lean into the peace and tranquility you are able to experience in this moment.

If you have family or friends, feel the love that they bring to your life. Realize that children are growing and changing right in front of your eyes. So are flowers. So are trees. Life is ever-evolving and each individual moment is an irreplaceable gift.

Blessings All Around

 If you have a computer or a smart phone that allows you to access uplifting quotes, realize what a blessing that is. These devices also allow you to access social media where you can connect with other people at any time day or night.

Wow.

In this moment, notice that your ability to read is a wonderful gift that allows you to tap into the words of many people who have shared their wisdom and energy through poetry, prose or music.

This one moment in time won’t be repeated. The things you see, smell and hear today won’t pass this way again.

Savor this one moment and all the people and events that have led you here.

Embrace and enjoy the wonderful moments and experiences that make up your life.

photo by:

Hope for a Very Happy New Year

Happy New Year!
“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”
                        ~ Alfred Tennyson

All around the world, people gather to celebrate the arrival of a new year with fireworks, food, dancing and socializing. Some travel to exciting new locations just to experience seeing in the New Year in the company of others. Last night, celebrations were going on in Times Square, in London, in Dubai, in Australia. From small towns to big cities the world over, people gathered to watch the ball drop or to toast their glasses or to kiss at midnight.

What makes seeing in the New Year such an exciting experience?

When the calendar changes on New Year’s Day, it brings with it a clear sense of hope.

It’s a brand new year.

Absolutely anything is possible.

The previous year is behind us. Our mistakes and disappointments have passed and we have a brand new chance to try again.

What will the coming year bring?

Today is like a blank page, completely unspoiled, not yet written on or painted on or torn or wrinkled. The direction you choose today and for the coming year is completely up to you.

Embrace the possibilities.

Breathe in the joy that is today, the start of a new year.

What can you do to make this year a better year than last year?

What can you do to make today a happy and joyful day? How can you make this a happier year than last year?

You can choose to have a better life this year. It’s a fresh start, a new beginning. Whatever your external circumstances, you can choose to be happy and content.

Let go of everything that hasn’t gone exactly as planned. Forgive yourself for the resolutions you didn’t keep last year, for the things you did or didn’t do as well as you would have like.

It’s ok. You did the best you could. And you get to try again.

What a joyful feeling of hope in all the possibilities that are ahead in the coming year.

The dreams you haven’t realized yet can still be met in the future. If doors have closed in your face, there are better possibilities ahead, possibilities and opportunities you may not even have imagined yet.

The future can be much better than the past.

It all starts in the hope and the joy that is today.

photo by: