Worried about the future at the expense of today?

Worried about the future at the expense of today?

I was recently asked whether, as a childless woman I’m afraid of dying alone.

The rationale for asking was – well you don’t have children (or siblings for that matter), women tend to live longer than men, so surely that means you’ll die alone, doesn’t it?

Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t.

Can you predict the future?

I certainly can’t.

worried about dying alone?I can’t predict what will happen next week, never mind what will happen in (let’s be optimistic) thirty plus years. And I’m certainly not going to spoil today by worrying about something that may or not may not happen many years in the future.

So in answer to the question.

I’m not worried about dying alone and neither should you be.

What I am concerned about, and you should be too, is living now; making the absolute most of my life today, now, this moment.

Because in the end, that’s all there is; this moment.

It’s not surprising that we’re always looking at what’s missing in our lives as Western culture is focused on making us feel like we constantly ‘need’ to have and to be more. Brené Brown describes this as a culture of scarcity, one in which we always feel ‘never…. enough.’  We’re bombarded by advertisements and social media showing others living a ‘perfect’ life and it can be hard to resist.

  • How many times a day do you think ‘I’m not…. (happy, good, perfect, thin, successful……) enough’?

  • How many times a day, do you think ‘I’ll be happy when….’?

And, be honest now,

  • How much do you focus on what’s missing from your life,

  • How often do you think about what a ‘wonderful’ life you’d have if only you had children?

I thought so.

And when you focus on ‘never enough’ or what’s missing, is it making you happy?

I thought not.

There is another way.

What if you embraced your life as it is, in this moment, warts and all?

What if you focused on what you HAVE in your life instead of what you don’t have?

How would that change your life?

worried about dying alone?I know your life didn’t turn out as planned and I’m not minimising your pain or how hard it is to let the past go and move on.

But you know that constantly focusing on that one thing you can’t have isn’t going to make you happy, don’t you?

So for a moment think about what you DO have in your life. Maybe pause and make a list of ten good things about your life. If ten is too many start with five, or three.

At the top of my list are freedom and flexibility, and just about everything else flows from these. It’s because of this freedom and flexibility that I live a life I love, which brings me joy and excites me every day.

Let me give you an example. As I write this, today was the funeral of a friend and business colleague. She was 60 and definitely didn’t die alone. When she first became ill, she told me that once she’d got over the shock of starting chemotherapy, one of her first thoughts was what’s the gift in this?And she inspired me to write this blog.

So if she could find the gift in having chemotherapy, I’m sure you can find something positive in your life.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t strive to make changes in your life. What I’m saying is that worrying does sap today of its joy and most of what we worry about never happens anyway. So I don’t know about you but I’d rather have joy today.

Three ways to live more in the moment.

Here are three ways to put this into place and live your life more in the moment.

  1. The first is obvious, use the list you just made above. Do more of the good things in your life, especially those that bring you joy.
  2. If you find yourself rushing, pause for a moment, look around and appreciate the beauty around you and in the moment.
  3. Consider what nurtures and re-energises you and do more of these. For me that’s things like reading, being outside, spending time on my own and spending time with close friends.

If I’m completely honest, the future is where I spend a lot of time. Not the distant future, but a few days or weeks hence, so being in the present is a challenge for me. I’m very much a work in progress and practicing mindfulness meditation is also helping.

None of us know what the future holds and I’m determined to make every day count.

I want to get to the end of my life and have plenty of wonderful memories to sustain me and to say confidently ‘yes I lived my life to the full.’

What about you?

Please leave your thoughts below (you don’t have to use your real name).

If you want to stop worrying about dying alone so that you can live today to the full how about booking a complimentary session via my online diary  and we’ll spend 20 to 30 minutes discussing how you can do this. The hard sell is not my style and I know you’ll get something from our conversation.

Thank you to The Mindfulness Summit  for inspiration and to The TranquilPath for bringing this to my attention.

 

8 thoughts on “Worried about the future at the expense of today?”

  1. Love the Leo Buscaglia quote, Lesley, it’s so true.

    Worrying about the future in the mistaken belief that this somehow gives us control or stops ‘bad’ things happening, totally robs us of joy and a full experience of this present moment – which is actually the only time we really have.

    And it’s so difficult to stop telling ourselves these stories about what’s going to happen in the future, isn’t it?

    Once you catch yourself at it though, you have a choice – believe the story, or to come back into the now (which is where your life actually is).

    I love the choices you’re making – you’re an inspiration. And thanks for the useful tips to help us stay present.
    Linda Anderson recently posted…Is That a Proper Job?My Profile

    • Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom Linda,
      You’re right, believe the story of what may or may not happen in the future or come back to the moment.
      As you say that’s where life is. That’s all there is, this moment. Now.
      Lesley x

  2. Thank you for this post Lesley – which as you know, is music to my heart 🙂 I didn’t realise until I got to the end that I had inspired you – so thank you also for the extra music to my heart!

    The biggest source of conflict we humans have is in mentally arguing with ‘what is’, and mentally ‘rehearsing’ for possible what-if’s… neither of which do anything other than tie our energy up in knots; so I applaud you and anyone else reminding people of the value of living right NOW with what is – that is how we build lives we love and gain freedom. Moment to moment, simply and consistently. It requires only awareness and self-acceptance – and a dose of patience and self-love too 😉 xx

    • Thank you Helen. I don’t know why it’s a surprise that you inspire me 🙂
      And yes, I agree awareness and self- acceptance are great starting points. I’m still working on patience & self love!

  3. Thank you for this reminder Lesley! It’s so easy to live our lives thinking about what’s missing (and being envious of what other people have) – instead of being thankful and appreciating what we have.
    It’s something I’m working on daily, and I’m finding more peace and joy in my life because of it.

    • Thanks for commenting Ann,
      yes the grass always seems greener doesn’t it? And it’s tempting to spend so much time looking at the other side of the fence that we don’t realise how lovely our garden is.
      And I’m glad that you’re finding more space and joy because of this.

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