This happens every December. I get really excited to watch the movie Elf. I would watch it all year round but then I may get tired of it, and that just won't do. Besides being funny and awkward and sweet, Elf has one secret to life all figured out.
It's something I try to practice everyday, but it's not always easy because our minds have this amazing ability to have thoughts firing at all times. Reminding us of all the things we need to get done, didn't get done, totally forgot about doing, should of done, did wrong, could do wrong, or totally nailed. It's exhausting just thinking about it. So, back to now. There's this magic that unfolds when we live in the moment: the mind chatter stops. No worrying about the future, no regretting the past, no wondering what others think about it all, just the simple observation of what's happening now. And chances are, unless you're about to be eaten by a tiger, things aren't so bad right now in this very moment. (For starters you have an electronic device upon which you are reading this. That's major points as far as my 6 year old is concerned.) It's the buildup of possible negative outcomes we play in our minds or the self-imposed pressure that can make the moment not so pleasurable. When life is taken moment by moment it’s not as bad / stressful / painful / discouraging as our thoughts will lead us to believe. I had a moment the other day when we were finished with dinner and my daughters were running around, doing handstands instead of putting up their dishes, and I took a step back and realized just how crazy and fun and fleeting it all is. I observed the moment and is was pretty damn sweet. Normally I would observe the dirty dishes and want the girls to put them in the dishwasher right away, then think if I don't have them put their dishes away immediately they will grow up to be slobs and not know how to keep a job and will become homeless. And that's how the runaway train of our mind works. It's all made-up bullshit that keeps us from enjoying right here, right now. When we stop and notice more, we give space to savor what's really going on. The madness of little girls being really, really happy, so happy that handstands are in order, for no reason. Being present reduces stress and gets all the noise out of our heads. So, how do we do it? I'm thinking wearing bright yellow tights everyday is a great way to keep us living in the moment. A constant wearable reminder. But let's face it, not all of us can pull that off. Another cue we can take from Buddy is to call it out. When emotions are swirling and thoughts are coming in one after the other, pull back, notice what's happening around you and say it. (You can say it in your quiet head voice if you're in public and don't want to be looked at like you're weird.) When we observe then give voice to the observation, the mind chatter ceases. For real. Taking a shower, driving, watching your kids do handstands...whatever it is, call it out and get back to the moment. I know, it may seem childish, or petty, but it works! Living in the moment allows us to cast our worries, fears and all the other jumbled mess that goes on in our minds everyday to the curb. And we can all stand to live with a little less worry, regret and mind chatter. And there really is a lot to notice. The leaves blowing in the wind, the flowers growing without us even paying attention to them. Experiencing moments just for the sake of experiencing them helps us realize there is not one situation in life that is bigger than us. Within each moment there is a reminder of our capabilities, joy and love that resides deep within. Give it a try it. Or try wearing the yellow tights. If you try wearing the tights, please send pictures. I'd love to hear how it goes for you and if it makes a difference, or if there is another method you have to get back to the moment. Please leave your comment below.
In the meantime, cheers to this moment, and this one, and this one.
Lots of elf love,