Cultivating a Meaningful Life
Lying down at end of life, so many people say, “It all went by so fast.” I can even attest in my own life, the older I get the faster it seems to go. Now with the advent of the various web debris floating around our environments, it’s as if there is information overload at times and we can get to the end of the day often saying, “The day went by so fast.” Those of you who have been following my blogs can hear the echo of past blogs talking about how we can so easily get kicked into a state of auto-pilot not realizing this very present moment that is right here in front of us. Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “Life is routine and routine is resistance to wonder.” I would add, “Routine keeps us from realizing what is most meaningful moment-to-moment.”
I’ve never heard someone unhappy with having experienced a meaningful life. In fact, there is much debate about whether cultivating a meaningful life might be what’s actually most supportive to our mental health. We need to look no further often times than right here, right now in order to embrace meaningful moments.
Even if you are struggling with anxiety or depression, there are moments in your daily life that often go unnoticed that might be fleeting, yet meaningful. For example, holding your baby or that of another, walking by a beautiful garden, holding the hand of someone you care about, being present with your pets, talking to your parents or children, even living in your house. Why might these be meaningful? Because just like anything else, it often takes the act of something being taken away from us to really recognize the meaning of it. Think of someone passing away, of 9/11, or of the Tsunami. If we were able to go back in time, we might stand in front of the World Trade Center and be in awe of the buildings, or really pay attention to a person we lost. We can break out of our routines not having to wait until it’s lost to realize the meaning behind things.
Mary Oliver says in her poem “The Summer Day”
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Here is one way I call Present Moment Nostalgia to support us in really feeling into the meaning of the moment.
- Imagine yourself many years from now looking back onto this moment. What is here presently that no longer will be here? Will your children be older? Will your pets be gone? Will you be in the same home? If you’re walking by flowers, noticing that these are temporary.
- Now travel back in time to the present in your mind and be in this moment, knowing that it is impermanent, knowing that it is a precious moment to feat on right now.
- Notice how you are feeling. There may be a mixture of feelings there, just see if you can be with them, without judgment. Feast on your life.
Go ahead and share your thoughts, stories, and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Goldstein, E. (2009). Cultivating a Meaningful Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 9, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness/2009/06/cultivating-a-meaningful-life/