A few years ago I spent some time learning about minimalism and mindfulness. I worked out. Wrote a lot. And thoroughly enjoyed the life I was living in spite of some really difficult circumstances.
Lately I have realized that my life is full to bursting and not in a good way.
So many of us these days live in two income families. With kids. And houses. And chores. Life’s treadmill keeps running faster and faster. Our employers want more and more work for the same pay. The kids have a never-ending list of wants. Eventually we wake up and realize there is no time for ourselves and even worse, we spend our days stressed to the max as we rush around solving other people’s problems.
About three months ago I decided to make a change.
The problem as I saw it was:
• Problems at my day job were causing me to spend too much time regretting my situation and too little time enjoying myself
• I worked far too many hours and needed more time at home with my fiancée
I was an avid reader of Zen Habits by Leo Babauta (highly recommended) and I had read a few books on mindfulness. Somewhere along the line I learned that the only moment in which we can act is now. My situation was difficult for sure. I couldn’t reduce my hours and I couldn’t make my problems at work go away, but I could change the way I reacted to life’s stresses.
What I did has made a huge change in my enjoyment of life and I want to share it with you. I printed a bracelet for myself that says “Master This Moment.”
The bracelet is a constant reminder to live in this moment and not to let worry for the future or regrets about the past drain precious time.
Every morning I put on the bracelet and whenever I face a difficult situation, I ask myself the following question, “What does mastery of this moment require?” Sometimes the answer is quite surprising.
There are times when we are stressed, but can do nothing about the situation. In those times I try to use my time productively for something that is important. Sometimes mastery of a particular moment means taking a nap. Or going for a walk. Or spending time with Tina.
Sometimes mastery of a particular moment is planning for the future.
The bracelet has made significant changes for me. Before I started wearing the bracelet, I spent a lot of time being frustrated and angry about my situation. In the months since, I have pushed those emotions aside and focused on what is important to the situation at hand.
A good illustration of this was my selection of apple trees. Four months ago, I would have been so focused on what was going on at work that I would have made the decision about which apple trees to buy on the spur of the moment, planted the trees, and moved on to the next task. Keep in mind that it takes about five years for a new apple tree to fruit, so the decision is fairly important.
By pausing a moment to think about mastering this decision, I went to the store and bought several different kinds of apples. Turns out they cost about the same per pound, so buying different varieties was no big deal. Who knew?
Then I sliced the apples and put them on similar plates in the kitchen with a label underneath. I invited the children down one at a time to sample each apple and tell me what they thought. This was a great family activity. The kids felt included in the decision. I learned that the kids and I all like the same type of apples (which I now buy regularly) and to my surprise, I learned that Tina likes apples that no one else really cares for.
The point is that by slowing down and thinking about the best way to master a situation, I am much happier with who I am. When a stressful situation comes along, I reach for the bracelet as I pause and think about how to respond. My impact on others has changed dramatically and I am much happier with myself.
You don’t need a bracelet to make this change. But if you would like one, I purchased 100 of them and I’m giving them away to anyone who buys a signed copy of One More Degree. I hope you give this idea a try and I hope it works as well for you as it has for me.
Thanks for sharing this moment with me.