Bad news, priorities and living in the moment

Ever have one of those days where everything goes wrong or it’s bad news after bad news? All of us have. It’s just the way things happen sometimes. And most of the time, the things that happen to get you down turn out to be not as bad as they seemed at the time. Your emotions tend to do a good job of taking over and covering up the details.

This week has been rough for me. Events of the last few days have really taken a toll on my happiness. I decided yesterday, though, that it’s a wake up call to take a look at myself again. To live in the moment and appreciate what I do have. To focus on spending my time and attention on the things that truly matter. Sometimes you need that reminder to take a step back and see things as they are, so you can adjust your focus and energy.

“If you say something is a priority and you’re not funding it like it is, you aren’t speaking the truth.” — paraphrased Merlin Mann

I love this sort-of-quote by Merlin Mann. It’s incredibly easy to say something is a priority and get stressed out by the number of priorities you think you have on your plate. It’s a happiness and productivity killer. Too many people get overwhelmed and taken over by these so-called priorities. The fact is, as the quote says, if you aren’t acting on a priority like it really is a priority, then it isn’t. End of story. The key to being truly happy is to wade through that list of “priorities” and figure out what really is important to you and focus all of your energy on it.

Seems easy enough, right? Well, it’s not. The challenge is doing this on a daily basis, sometimes hourly or more. Whether it’s the work project, or focusing on the person you care about, or spending quality time with your kids. Be mindful of the moment, then decide how to spend your time and attention on what’s important to you. It’s about treating the present moment with the respect and attention it deserves.

“What you are is what you have been. What you’ll be is what you do now.” ~ Buddha

The key to all of this, in my mind, is to not dwell on the past or spend your energy worrying about the future. The past and the future are the triggers for those emotions that stop you from seeing the truth in the present. We need to learn from the past and respect the future, of course, but once you acknowledge that everything is impermanent, living in the moment is the only right answer. Not to mention, making the right decisions in the present is the best way to influence the future. So, instead of worrying about what the future will bring, why not focus on what’s in front of you and make that moment the best moment you can?

‎”To be upset over what you don’t have is to waste what you do have.”  — Ken S. Keyes, Jr.

Figuring out how to do all of this is definitely a challenge. There is no right answer. It’s the same way I feel about productivity systems, life hacks, or organized religion. Finding a custom framework that works for you is the best way to work toward happiness and success. Don’t get me wrong, regardless of the system, you will make the wrong decision and, at times, fail, but the important thing is to try, learn, and adjust. That’s life in a nutshell, though, right?

I hope this helps someone else going through a rough time. Just writing this post has helped me clarify my approach to the present. If you have a story to share or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me.