“Having spent the better part of my life trying either to relive the past or experience the future before it arrives, I have come to believe that in between these two extremes is peace.” – Author Unknown.
If your legal practice or life are anything like mine, you have too many things you need to do and too little time to get them done. I often wake in the morning and think of what I need to get done at work that day. Frequently, at the end of the day I realize that I only accomplished a portion of what I wanted to achieve and in the meantime, a number of other pressing matters have been added to the list. Some time ago, I realized that when I was working long hours I thought about taking some time off. Ironically, when I was on vacation, I was thinking about my clients and the work that was accumulating and would be waiting for me upon my return. Many people in this day and age take phone calls, or review texts or emails while they are in a meeting, visiting a friend, spending time with family or are engaged in an activity that is supposed to be enjoyable such as a meal, sporting event, concert, or show. I realized that I was actually only partially present in some of my telephone and in-person conversations. In addition to being impolite, this was not acceptable to me on a number of levels.
This led me to try and make some changes. I am leaving my smartphone in the car when I go for dinner with a friend. I am also not dwelling on the past and am worrying about the future less (alright, I’m trying; it’s a work in progress). In short, I’m now trying to live in the moment and give each person I encounter my full and undivided attention.
I have been told that living in the moment is also called mindfulness. According to an on-line Psychology Today article, mindfulness:
… is a state of active, open, intentional attention on the present. When you become mindful, you realize that you are not your thoughts; you become an observer of your thoughts from moment to moment without judging them. Mindfulness involves being with your thoughts as they are, neither grasping at them nor pushing them away. Instead of letting your life go by without living it, you awaken to experience.
Apparently, the practice of mindfulness originates from Buddhist traditions. I am informed that some Western based psychologists are using mindfulness practice to address a number of conditions including anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and addiction. Even if you suffer from none of these issues, mindfulness might help you enjoy your life more, become more productive, and lead you to be more well-balanced.
I am informed that people who live in the moment and are mindful, are more secure, empathetic, and happy. They have healthier relationships and higher self-esteem. In addition, living in the moment can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and boost immune functioning.
Ensure that you are not so focused on the past or the future that you neglect to experience and fully enjoy the present. Savour each moment. Relish each experience and pay attention to what you are doing at the present moment because life unfolds and is lived in the present.
“You should live every day in life like it’s your last day because one day you’re gonna be right.” – Ray Charles
by Dana Schindelka, the Vice-Chair of the Legal Profession Assistance Conference