Most days seem very long…long and slow. I wanted to take some time today to consider how to go from long and slow…to full and fulfilling. In regular circumstances, we welcome worry into the day we’re in by looking back and looking forward. Very rarely are we just where we are. In considering how to best exist in the day we’re in, these wise words from Mother Teresa come to mind:
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
It’s easy to get on board with this, but much harder to put it to practice. Keeping ourselves focused on the moment we’re in is something that we have to redirect ourselves towards multiple times a day, from the moment we wake up. It might just be that adding some purpose and plans, while remaining flexible, will allow us to focus on the day we’ve got and foster some real peace and joy. How can we keep ourselves in the present day long enough to add value to it?
- Today needs all your energy. Let’s face it. It’s likely that distributing energy and effort between where we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going is just too much for today. It will actually make things feel heavier when you are adding to the current pile you’re carrying. Today comes with things to do, but it also comes with room to breathe. There’s time for quiet, time for exercise, time for work, and time for generosity. What’s also very true is being where you are will naturally prepare you for whatever tomorrow brings and heal the wounds from yesterday. Ultimately, your days will be less slow when you are fully in them.
- Yesterday happened. Don’t allow it to keep happening. The things we’ve done, the words we’ve said, etc, often replay in our minds. These moments on repeat have a deep effect on our hearts, bodies, and souls. If there is something unresolved from the past, take the steps to wrap it up and do what’s needed to let that go. Sometimes the heavy stuff from the past fall into the, “I wish I could undo that” category. Here’s the thing. You can’t do it over, but you can acknowledge to yourself and whoever it involves that you recognize your missteps. If anything from the past, from this category or another, still keeps coming up, take time to think about why. Ask yourself if there’s anything you can do about it. If you can, do it. If you can’t, practice letting it leave your mind quickly when it pops in. Let each day be it’s own story by not replaying the past.
- Tomorrow is truly unknown. Stop trying to “WHAT IF?!” what it’s going to be. I got some simple advice recently…advice that’s not easy to take. Stop getting lost in: What ifs? This activity of imagining all the things that might happen is poison to the heart and soul. Imagining what tomorrow might be is a natural thing, but an awful distraction that leads to unnatural amounts of anxiety. If you are going to write the story of tomorrow, let it be about what you hope for and how what you choose today can prepare you for it. Don’t imagine that anything is finite or for sure besides God’s presence and your desire to care for your life and for the lives of others. When tomorrow comes to mind, think about the possibilities that are in your control. Don’t write stories about things you can’t possibly predict. Today will be full when your mind is engaged in what’s at hand. Who we are today will prepare us to receive the unknown of tomorrow.
- Fill today with a good amount of routine. With so much unknown, it’s good to wake up with some things you can expect. Something simple that is surprisingly helpful is setting an alarm. Just because you don’t have anywhere to go, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to do. Plan for purpose. Set time aside for the things you have to do and the things you want to do. See small things as big moves. If you move from working on your desk to reading on your couch, you’ve accomplished something. If you set time and space aside for being quiet, you’ve accomplished something. The days will blend together less if it feels like every hour matters. Don’t let the day happen to you. Make it happen. Because it is likely you will be interrupted, it’ll be easier to go with the flow if there is a flow.
- Have at least one identifier for each day. Switching it up here and there is just as important as routine. Think about something special that differentiates one day from another. Maybe it’s an online gathering you have, or a show you like. It might be that there is something you eat on Saturday that reminds you that it’s Saturday! Having a daily identifier gives you 1- something to look forward to and 2- a way to embrace each day for what it is. If it’s just another day, then it’s easier to fall into complacency and boredom. You’ll also be easily drawn towards the past or anticipate the future. Knowing and owning the day will guide you towards the moment. Find a way to let each day stand out.
- Prayer, quiet, and conversation. You will have a full and fulfilling day ahead of you if you’re in touch with God, others, and yourself. Quiet time will reveal where you are and allow you to identify what might be causing unrest…because there will likely be some level of disrupted peace in your heart each day. Stillness will also refresh you and center you. Set time aside for quiet, as well as prayer. Prayer that is part of a routine is crucial for a multitude of reasons. Creating a daily prayer routine…what prayers, where, and when… will help equip you with peace and clarity to respond to the things you can’t control. And friends and family will help support you and strengthen you through it all. Conversation with others is necessary because community is necessary. It’s also necessary because figuring everything out on your own can add burdens. Sharing burdens lifts them. Be quiet. Be with God. Be with others.
- Give it a shape! Don’t think of it as a straight line. Give each day a shape. This is a weird way of explaining how I’m trying to see each day in my head. It’s not just a chronological series of events that I’m getting through. It’s an all encompassing experience. Each day is it’s own big oval! Or a diamond! Or whatever shape comes to mind. It’s full and complete on it’s own. A line cannot hold anything. Try not to see your day as a line. It’s an experience that you can both design and be surprised by. It may be formed by the past and forming the future, but it doesn’t depend on either. It’s where you are and what you’ve got.
Do what you can to bring purpose and peace to each and every day. Let small moves be meaningful. Don’t have the past on repeat and let the future come on it’s on. Put your energy and effort into the present.