There is now an emerging field in the area of economics known as "happiness” research. This comprises an absurd amount of data that suggests that if we want to have stress-relieving, life-appreciating, joy-delivering, mood-lifting and butt-kicking happiness, then we should live in the moment.
To live in the moment means to be consciously aware of the present or “the now.” In other words, we do not dwell on the past or be anxious about the future. Perhaps you are as foolish as I am in that I, of course, want happiness, but I cannot seem to forget about the past or be curious about the future. Regrettably, I seldom focus on the moment!
As we know, when we focus on the past, our feelings are often akin to shame, guilt or regret. When we think about the future, fear and anxiety repeatedly rear their ugly heads. Maybe you are wondering if I do not follow my advice, why should I pen a column on happiness equaling living in moment? That is a great question, so let me start by answering it. Here it goes: The best way to learn is to teach! Therefore, I am going to teach us how to be happy, so I can learn it, internalize it and most important apply it. Talk about shameless self-serving advice!
We do not have to take the academics’ word for how to achieve happiness. Instead, we can just carefully observe our four-legged friends. Animals are in the present all the time, and their secret power is to pull us in with them. If you have a dog, I am sure you can relate. For example, even if I were only away from my home for 30 minutes, when I walked through my front door, my maltipoo (Bruiser) would get amazingly so excited to see me. It was as if he was saying, “You’re here. I’m here. I love you and now I am going to pee all over the floor!” Talk about living in the moment! Yes indeed, contrary to most of their owners, dogs are concerned with what is happening to them right now, not what happened to them last week or what might happen next Tuesday. Living in the moment appears so productive and especially easy, so why is it unbelievably difficult to accomplish for many of us? If Bruiser were alive, and he could talk, I suggest that he would bark out this word of wisdom: “Pops, the past ain’t gonna change anytime soon. It is gone, and we can't do anything about it. On the other paw, the future is unknown. The only thing we can really enjoy and affect is the present moment. So, let’s me and you keep it simple and have some fun!”
Speaking of simple, I have a friend with special needs. His name is Marc, and he has had an incredible influence in helping me change my perception of life. Marc’s actions are a heart-warming reminder that simplicity is what brings true happiness. It does not come from our wealth, notoriety or our possessions. Marc shows me that happiness comes from the simple things embraced in the power of humility and compassion. Marc shows me that happiness comes with holding on to our childlike curiosity. Marc shows me that happiness comes with not pretending to be something that we are not and embracing who we truly are. Yes indeed, Marc is truly special, because, just like Bruiser, he lives in the moment!
Lastly, I argue that if you know someone that truly has an awesome life, you can bet he or she has a black belt in living in the moment. Nevertheless, many argue, as I do, that it is hard work to find happiness. Or is it? Marc would say, “Bow Wow!”
Harry Pappas Jr. CFP®
Master of Science Degree Personal Financial Planning
Certified Estate & Trust Specialist ™
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™
Pappas Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors
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