Insights: Life is a Sequence of Moments

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Life is short.

We have heard this often throughout our lives. The problem is that we do not realize this until one day we say “Wow—this is it?”

Why is it so difficult for us to digest this message?

Our brain is only set up to accept small changes. I hear from clients as they watch a parent or a friend pass that they knew they were going to die yet it was still difficult to comprehend even once they passed.

If we can comprehend the limitation of our lives, we would pay more attention to every moment.

We need to find a balance between being present and learning from the past and exploring what we want in our future. This is how we make life meaningful.

I like to use the analogy of driving as a way to live life. Eighty percent of our energy and attention needs to be in the now, looking at the cars around us. Ten percent of our energy should be looking ahead, making plans and goals for life going forward. While driving you want to look ahead at traffic, but not too much as you will crash into the car ahead.

Ten percent of your time and energy should be spent looking behind, learning, grieving, letting go, and holding memories of the past. While driving, seeing what is behind helps to make a good decision going forward.  If we lose this type of focus while driving, it can cause problems for us, as it does in life.

When we are not present in the moment, we loose the connection to ourselves, to others and to what we are experiencing.  The moment goes by and we have not fully experienced it.  Think about when we have strong vivid memories, maybe of a vacation we were on, or when we got a puppy or started dating someone.  We so enjoy remembering those memories.  They are so strong because we were fully present to the experience.

We can actually make all of our moments like that, even if we are simply doing the dishes.

After my recent back surgery, I have been unable to bend over, so I cannot use my dishwasher. Instead, I’m washing my dishes by hand and actually enjoying it. I know it sounds strange, yet life is made up of the simple moments.  I felt grateful in that moment for many things: the view out my kitchen window, the dishes I remember buying, the dinner I just ate. I experienced all this because I was fully present.

Most of our lives consist of these types of expeiences. The big events only happen on occasion. Joy needs to come from the simple things. There is a peacefulness to life when we live just as it is in the moment.

Often when we are thinking ahead, we are trying to control the moment rather than just experiencing it for what it is. Now this does not mean we neglect having goals. Having goals and dreams are important, but write them in pencil. Allow life to present itself to you.

I like this quote by Cookie Monster: “Today me will live in the moment, unless it’s unpleasant, in which case me will eat a cookie.” Of course, if we really lived this way, we would gain lots of weight!

Humor aside, we all can distract ourselves from our reality, looking for something more exciting, yet it is truly more about enjoying the small things in life, because they really are the big things.

As author and speaker Wayne Dyer said, “present-moment living, getting in touch with your now, is at the heart of effective living. When you think about it, there really is no other moment you can live.  Now is all there is, and the future is just another present moment to live when it arrives.”

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected].

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