On Being Present
Updated: Apr 2, 2020
Recently, I have gotten the same advice in more than one way. Finally, I had to say "Okay Universe, I get it, you are brilliant, thank you!"
The advice? Don't forget to be present, to really be present, and connect with what is happening around you in the moment. Don't compare your current life to past successes or feel too pressured to move onto the next big thing.
I think there is an immense amount of pressure with creatives to continue moving forward with gusto. I completed this piece, my essay is getting published, I just had a great performance - what's next?!
Take the time to focus on your accomplishments and be mindful about the future. Slow down, and remember that living and experiencing is a part of the creative process too. And I strongly think that a bit of that, at least for me personally, is being thankful.
I may have lost some of you, or you could be rolling your eyes wondering how you can possibly be thankful when things aren't working out for you. When you're stuck, when you're struggling, when you've lost a loved one or a part of yourself. Different things work for different people, and for me, cultivating a mindset of thankfulness got me through a dark place of losing someone I loved, of intrusive thoughts and pain that held me captive for far too long. And that pain doesn't always go away - in fact, we are lucky for the brief hours or days when it does - but concentrating on why I am thankful reminds me of why existing is worth it.
I may have shared this quote in a post previously, but I have it written on a sticky note and hanging up in my cubicle as a reminder when I've lost my way:
"Cultivate the habit of being grateful, for every good thing, and bad thing, that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thankfulness for the bad things? I know, I know. Give me just a second to explain.
Being thankful when you've lost someone, with the current political climate or when experiencing financial stress doesn't seem to make sense, and it isn't always easy. In fact, I may be coming off as very ignorant and privileged right now - perhaps you find me completely delusional. When someone first shared that quote with me, I felt the same way. I was angry. How dare you? I thought. How could I possibly be thankful when every breath is full of pain? How can I experience gratitude when others are suffering?
But I sat on it, and I practiced it. I was thankful for the little things at first. Watching a movie I liked, taking a walk on a sunny day, calling my grandma on the phone. I wrote these things down, in journals or on scraps of paper or in text messages to myself as a constant reminder that there is good.
And I don't want to feel guilty for feeling thankful or happy. I don't want that for you either. We deserve that, especially when things are hard. You are allowed to experience joy amidst the bad. Give yourself permission to laugh or smile or to truly appreciate something.
Be present, pay attention, connect yourself with your current environment, and always be thankful.
I am consistently thankful for all of you. :)