Live for Today

‘My favourite day’ Winnie the Pooh

The ‘Here and now’ are important for a joyful life

I, and many far wiser than I could ever hope to be, believe we can live and age better by focusing on the present.

Why? I offer five reasons.

1. It’s the only reality!

Thich Nhat Hanh (born in 1926) is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist.

2. It’s ‘the first day of the rest of your life’.

It’s a daily fresh beginning, giving you the chance to try again, to discover new things, friends, passions, take an initial step to achieving your dream, do better – or just enjoy life and be happy.
Delighted that both Winnie the Pooh and the Dalai Lama agree.

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th and current Dalai Lama since 1940.

I doubt you have seen His Holiness mentioned in the same sentence as ‘the bear of very little brain’ before!

3. It’s good for you

Maslow (1908-1970), an American psychologist, is best known for creating Maslow’s ‘Hierachy of Needs’

We cannot know the future. The past is history and we can, and should, learn from it. But, by living in the moment, and giving full attention to what you are doing now, you are less likely to worry about the future, ruminate on regrets, or feel guilty about past actions.

A wonderful cartoon by Karl Stevens in a recent The New Yorker magazine.

Being ‘mindful’ is good for wellbeing, for example, mindful walking (being aware of your body, your breathing, and what you can see and hear as you take each step), mindful eating (focusing on the taste, look and sensation of your food), meditating or doing a jigsaw.

So, find your ‘flow’ – the concept of psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – to help you find happiness and productivity. In essence ‘flow’ is a state of complete absorption in an activity, especially creative ones, being challenged and becoming totally lost in the moment. I recommend dancing! For more on ‘flow’ see here.

4. You’ll notice and appreciate many wonderful small things

And, as we’ve discovered over the last year, focusing on what’s real and happening now can provide much happiness and comfort, from birdsong and a cloudless blue sky – to a piece of chocolate cake!

Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) was an Indian monk, yogi and guru considered as the ‘Father of Yoga in the West’

5. And a good day today can help towards a better tomorrow

If you try to make today the best it can be for you, and hopefully those around you, then you’ll be helping to create a better future. One small step, one day at a time.

As Albert Einstein, the theoretical physicist who lived to 76, said

Life is a preparation for the future and the best preparation for the future is to live as if there were none’.

Two cautionary notes

Nevertheless, it’s wise to give some thought to your future, what you want to achieve and how. Living fully in the ‘here and now’ does not mean ceasing to dream of, and plan for, good tomorrows. And it’s no justification for hedonism or failing to consider the possible negative consequences of your behaviour. Living in the present is one key ingredient in a recipe of behaviours and actions for a happier, healthier life. ‘How to Age Joyfully’ (my book!) and/or other sources can tell you more.

Secondly, if each day is a real struggle, and your mental health is suffering, do reach out, perhaps to friends, family, helplines, charities, or, if necessary, professional services – whoever is best placed to help you.

So, finally…

May you live today, and all your ‘todays’, to the max and to the best of your ability. This day won’t return – unless you’re in the film ‘Groundhog Day’! And nothing in life, including tomorrow, is guaranteed.
So relish and revel in each and every day you are given.

Stay safe; stay strong; stay smiling.