As I write this about a week before Christmas, this seems like a particularly relevant topic. Many of us are thinking about presents – who we still need to buy for, what to get them, when we will wrap those gifts and when we will get it all done. Some of us, whether the young or the young at heart, are even thinking about that magical moment when we will unwrap the gifts we`ve received.
The present I am writing about today isn`t the new electronic gadget, pajamas or the book on your list.
The present I want to think about is a gift we all receive, and it is more valuable than any of those wonderful items.
The present I`m speaking of is the present.
We are all given this moment in time – the present – as a gift. And like any of the gifts you might receive at Christmas, on your birthday or some other special occasion, it must be unwrapped carefully to preserve its value.
And let me tell you – this gift is so valuable!
The past is gone forever (except in our memories), and the future is promised to none of us (though it can live in our dreams).
All we really have is the present – right now – this moment in time.
And since our lives consist of nothing more than the ongoing stream of these present moments, it makes sense for us to do a better job of understanding, valuing and unwrapping this valuable gift in the most beneficial way.
This topic overall is much bigger than I can describe in a few hundred words, so let`s focus on something very important – how to unwrap this gift we call the present.
The Unwrapping Habit
I know people that unwrap presents in a fury, with paper, ribbon and tape flying in all directions, and I know others who open them much more slowly, carefully and methodically, like they are trying to preserve the wrapping paper for reuse.
And in my experience, most people do this task in a particular way and always seem to do it that way as a matter of habit.
In much the same way we tend to unwrap our “nows” in habitual ways. Regardless of how you do it, since we are always experiencing a new now, we have lots of practice at this task. But, because of the volume of this experience, we do it completely unconsciously.
Let`s use the next couple of minutes of your present to think about ways to unwrap all of your future presents in a more beneficial way.
The First Step
Before you can unwrap the present, you must realize what gets in your way:
o Thinking about the past. The past is . . . well . . . over! Certainly your past experiences, both positive and negative, impact who you are, which is fine. But if you are thinking about, regretting or otherwise living in the past, you can`t unwrap your present very successfully.
o Thoughts of the future. The future is important, and you should definitely think about and plan for it. However, if you are living there too much, doing too much dreaming, you aren`t taking advantage of your wonderful present! Consider the gift of the present as a necessary building block for the future you want to see.
o Your self talk. If you are listening too closely to your internal dialogue, you can`t experience and appreciate the present.
o Your worries. Worries (about the past or future) are a special case. When you are in worry you can`t be in the present.
Three Ways to Unwrap More Successfully
Beyond recognizing the barriers that keep you from enjoying your present, what else can you do proactively to create the habit of more successfully living each present moment? While there are many habits that can aid you in this quest, here are four that I find particularly valuable.
o Appreciate now. Remember the absence of a present moment means someone is reading your obituary! When you learn to appreciate and be grateful for the events and experiences you are having, you are unwrapping your present more effectively.
o Notice and become more observant. Technology allows us to take pictures of about anything at any time with our cell phones. Being more observant though is more than a digital photo. It is a multi-sensory “snapshot” of your present moments. Be aware of the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present. Notice the energy in the situation. Ask yourself, “what do I want to remember about this moment?”
o Enjoy it! Even if the situation isn`t perfect or what you expected, find something to enjoy in each moment. Is this going to happen every minute of everyday? Perhaps not, but if you choose to enjoy, if you choose unwrap your present moments the way you unwrap a tangible gift – with joy and anticipation, you will be amazed how much more joy you will experience each day.
It is better than an iPod, a sweater or a even a new car. These tangible gifts may be wonderful, but they can never measure up to the gift that comes to us every minute – that`s 1440 times every day.
Thanks for investing your present moments in reading these words.
Potential Pointer: When you recognize the gift this moment in time is, you can begin to more consciously decide how to be aware and use the present as the amazing gift that it is.