My family and I recently returned from our annual summer vacation in Maine. It was filled with all the wonderful things vacations can bring – fun, relaxation, yummy food – but there was also a subtle reminder to find joy in the present and to simply cherish the here and now. This sweet reminder came from my three year old daughter.
When Emma was asked at various times throughout our vacation what her favorite thing that she had done so far was, she would very simply answer with whatever it was she was doing at that very minute.
Such things included (but are not limited to):
“Closing my eyes and falling asleep” as well as “Hiding under the tent” (tent meaning the towel that she had covered her head with). Because, seriously, who doesn’t love a good nap and a little alone time?
Tiny moments, BIG reminder.
I found myself thinking about how amazing it would be if only I could focus on the joy of what I’m doing on daily basis and really live in the moment. And not just while I’m on vacation! So often our ability to find joy in the moment is clouded by our focus on planning, getting to the next moment or event, trying to navigate our way through the tough “stuff,” or just by the everyday distractions that accompany the daily grind. I know that I am certainly guilty of this, no matter how hard, or how often, I try to focus on living in the moment and be truly present. Truthfully, it’s something I struggle with on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, sometimes it takes something drastic – a medical diagnosis or the death of a loved one, for instance – that stops you in your tracks and changes your perspective on life. You become more focused on appreciating, and savoring, all of those small moments. Then time goes by, things go back to “normal,”and we become distracted yet again. I know it’s at least a phenomenon that has happened to me.
There is a quote that says, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” (Lao Tzu) Well, if you’re like me and have ever suffered from both depression and anxiety, you might find yourself wondering why the those two wouldn’t just balance out and make it super easy to stay focused on the present. Ha! I think it often takes a very conscious effort to find that peace we need in order to live in the moment and recognize the joy. It’s not always easy, to say the least.
Living in the here and now, finding joy in the small things, seems to come so naturally to most young children. It is truly a gift I hope my daughters don’t lose. Yet more proof that I’m constantly learning (and re-learning) important lessons from my children. They truly are the greatest teachers when we take the time to listen. And I will certainly take all the reminders I can get.