By Philip Groom, author of ‘Heroic Quest – An Optimists Guide to Life’
The greatest gift you can give yourself, or anyone else, for that matter, is the present. If you can forget the problems of yesterday, and stop worrying about tomorrow, you won’t end up ruining today. Living positively and mindfully “in the now” is the only way to achieve lasting, authentic happiness.
“Yesterday is history and tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift, and that is why it is called the present.” ~ Alice Morse Earle
All great endeavours start with a first step, and I believe that deciding to live in the present is the first step toward genuine happiness. The path is windy and rocky, and like most paths these days it will have its fair share of dog mess, but if you take it one step at a time, everyone can reach the end. First of all we should really consider what happiness is. There are many definitions, but a couple that I think work well describe happiness as:
“An optimistic, enduring state that consists of positive feelings and includes both peace of mind and active pleasures or joy.” ~ Aristotle
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
I think that some essential elements of happiness are;
1. Enjoying your life and being content with what you have.
2. Not wanting to be anyone else, anywhere else or with anyone else.
3. Being at peace with yourself and the world around you.
4. Being comfortable in your own skin.
Real happiness is not the transient pleasure associated with splurging money, getting drunk or high, or enjoying a thrill ride at an amusement park. It is enduring, and more about serenity and contentment than gratification. Real happiness, like anything worth having, takes time to develop and nurture, and once you know what it is, it is easier to find and hold on to. Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect; it means you have decided to look beyond the imperfections.
“There are no perfect people or perfect lives – only perfect moments.” ~Unconfirmed
You won’t believe where I found this astute quote. I was reading an article about Sylvester Stallone who played Rocky in the series of boxing films of the same name. He also wrote and directed the first Rocky film, which many people either do not know or have forgotten. He has spoken frankly about his life and how he was not particularly happy or at peace for long periods during his illustrious “A” list career, despite all the money and adoration he received. As well as being an actor, writer, and director, he is also an accomplished artist, which he says gives him moments of perfection and satisfaction. Mr Stallone can’t be sure whether he read the “perfect moments” quote or invented it, but I think it is a great observation, and really puts life into perspective. Life is a mysterious tapestry interwoven with infinite moments of perfection; we just need to develop the clarity and patience to recognise them.
Moments of perfection can take many forms: a flower; a snowflake; a child’s laughter; a smile from someone you love; a cold beer on a hot day; the sun on your skin; a piece of music; the first bite of a piece of hot buttered toast; a thunderstorm… the list is endless. They are everywhere if you choose to find them. And they are often the simple things that most people take for granted. Perfection can be joy, peace, happiness, calm, clarity, love, balance, optimism, euphoria, serenity or even enlightenment. It would seem to me that the reason that highly spiritual people find enlightenment is that they practise every day and instinctively recognise the “moments of perfection” so that they add up to form “continuous perfection.”
We spend most of our time and energy striving for control, trying to create or hold on to the perfect life or to be a perfect person. We become so preoccupied with the past and the future that we miss the perfection in the present, the magic of the every day! Eastern spiritual and religious traditions also recognise the concept of living in the present and appreciating the moment; they call it “mindfulness.” Mindfulness is about being completely in touch with, and aware of, the present moment, as well as taking a non-evaluative and non-judgmental approach to your inner experience and thoughts. This is often achieved during meditation, where you let go of your thoughts and let them float freely through your mind by attaching no meaning or importance to them. “Less is more” is a phrase that is used in all areas of life, but it fits in here nicely. The more you let go of striving for the perfect life, the more time you create to enjoy the moments of perfection that surround you. These moments, where you are able to appreciate the beauty, perfection and simplicity of everyday life, eventually multiply and join together to produce many moments. The more you let go, the more you get back.
“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” ~ Aristotle
‘Heroic Quest – An Optimists Guide to Life’ is available as an e book now from Amazon by clicking HERE.