This has been a season of weddings. My son is getting married tomorrow and I officiated at a dear friend’s wedding in August. That meant two sets of bridal showers, a trip to Santa Barbara to buy dresses, a weekend making place cards and wooden directional signs and, of course, the two ceremonies themselves.
Early on I decided I wanted to savor every moment of this once-in-a-lifetime, estrogen-laden experience. I wanted to focus on each event as it happened. I didn’t want to miss any of the subtle details.
Of course, life is full of these precious times. In fact, you could argue that every moment deserves to be savored to the max.
Unfortunately, we become so harried and busy that time becomes a blur. We cram so many events into our schedules that we absently rush from one commitment to the next. Constantly juggling the responsibilities of work, family, fitness and fun means we have little time left over to value any part of what we’ve done. When we do have a break we’re usually planning the next activity or rehashing a recent to-do.
Our rush-rush lifestyles exact a heavy emotional toll. We’re perennially stressed and overbooked. We don’t have a moment to ourselves. Tempers flare as we snap undeservedly at others in our households. We’re overwhelmed by our frenetic pace.
Intimacy and relationships suffer. The very essence of solid relationships “time together” is absent. We fail to connect adequately with those we hold most dear. We’re unable to offer or receive support from loved ones. We may even accuse them of being insensitive to our needs.
Enjoyment is in short supply. We fail to appreciate what makes our lives so very special. If others challenge our hectic pace, we’re quick to rationalize, “I’d love to have more free time. But with my schedule there’s no way it can happen.”
Sometimes it’s not until we have a life-altering event that we grasp the value of each moment. We wait until a brother-in-law dies in a car crash or the doctor confirms our worst fears before acknowledging the beauty in the mundane.
When it’s gone we’d give anything to reclaim it. Its absence blasts a gaping hole in the way things were.That’s why I want to revel in these treasured moments. I want to absorb every nuance, every stage. Each is as fleeting as the sunlight sparkling in my bedroom window. I must enjoy it while it’s here.
Tips for making the most out of life
To fully savor life’s precious moments, start with these simple steps:
Don’t overbook yourself. Fight the urge to accept too many commitments. Saying no to unnecessary requests helps you focus on what’s important and keep stress at a manageable level.
Allow for open spaces in your schedule. You needn’t account for every moment. It’s OK to sit for an hour with nothing to do. In fact, having ample quiet time helps you tune in to other, less obvious, details.
Avoid multitasking. Multitasking is inherently distracting and agitating. It encourages scattered thinking. It makes conversation fragmented and superficial. Sometimes we have to do it for our jobs. But don’t make it a regular habit.
Honor the ordinary. Life is composed of the tiniest miracles. Notice them all around you. Then celebrate their presence in your day.
Pay attention to what you are doing. Start noticing little details. Hear the sound of your computer as you search the Internet. Feel the water on your hands as you do the dishes. Mindfulness immediately quiets your thoughts while drawing your awareness to your immediate surroundings.
Turn off distractions. Countless gadgets are vying for our attentions. Cellphones bring endless interruptions. Facebook connects us to our 400 most intimate friends. “Glee” and “America’s Got Talent” keep us drawn to our big screens like magnets. Most of us can’t imagine life without electronics. Still, there’s a time to turn them off.
Silence your inner critic. It’s easy to become judgmental, to tell yourself you’re not being productive. Recognize the negative messages. Relax any tension they cause. Replace them with constructive thoughts, such as, “It’s OK to enjoy what I’m doing. This is enough.”