06/30/2014 06:39 pm ET Updated Aug 30, 2014

Living in the Present Moment

Living in the present moment means that we should revel in the ordinary. If we are folding the laundry, for instance, then we can be grateful and happy for the clean laundry, the fresh scent of the clean clothes, the washer and dryer, the capacity to do this labor, the plumbing that brings running water, and the softened textures of the clean laundry.

Being grateful for the ordinary things and events in our daily lives contributes in a profound and practical way to our well-being and happiness. If we rush through our day's activities without paying attention to what we're doing or feeling thankful for what's in front of us, we are going through our events without really experiencing them. This state of mindlessness is a way of being numb or cut off from the present moment.

Feeling grateful for what's in our experience is loving life. Loving life fills our heart with song and good cheer, which we may then radiate outward and share with others. David Steindl-Rast, teacher and author of Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer, says that "People are not grateful because they are happy. People are happy because they are grateful."

Cultivating a disposition and habit of gratitude through these and other daily practices helps us to experience life with greater mindfulness in each passing moment. Every time we say 'should have', 'could have', or 'would have'--we are diminishing the creative power of our present moment as well as the joy of each subsequent moments. No two moments are ever the same. Everything changes, so we do not want to take any unique moment for granted, nor do we want to deny its creative power by ignoring the experience. Cherishing this moment opens the way to perceiving increased blessings now and in the next moment.

I often hear people paraphrasing the ancient Chinese proverb that "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results." Learning from our past experiences is a way of releasing the emotional hold of the past over us-the hold of regret, disapproval, guilt, and shame. Rather than getting caught in mourning over our past choices and situations, we pay attention to the significance of these choices and then apply new understanding to our current choices and possibilities. The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn the past, worry about the future, or anticipate trouble, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.
We are wise to be awake and vigilant to the inner voice of guidance and counsel in each present moment. The time to awaken is now! Being grateful is certainly a vital part of being awake, feeling alive, and having fun. Truly, a grateful heart makes each passing moment precious, valuable, and complete. To express what is deep in our heart without hesitation and delay is vital. We can't take our own health or life for granted, nor that of our friends or loved ones. Nothing in the realm of form is permanent, and so we are wise to cherish each opportunity and express our gratitude as it arises. Living in the moment is a worthy goal, not something we have to force ourselves to feel with strenuous effort. Pretty soon we will be telling others how much we appreciate them and celebrating life moment by moment.