Clients are telling me that they are feeling the effects of the recession and some sort of deep social change that they cannot exactly name. The old paradigms seem to be shifting, caving in, and the new ones are not fully appearing. "It feels almost biblical", is what I am hearing. The behemoth structures that we thought would be there forever are crashing in on themselves and new structures are yet to appear on the horizon. People are losing jobs, almost everyone is down in terms of their net worth, stores, restaurants and conferences are less populated.
It's so tempting to either live in the past, "if only I had done this", "I wish things were the way they were before" or to live in somehow obsessing about the future and what it may, or may not bring. But moments like these teach us the importance of living mindfully in the present. For one thing, a lot of people can't afford the kinds of distractions that occupied them before. We're shopping less, traveling less and eating out less. For another thing, we are all paying closer attention to the money that's in our wallets and bank accounts and the clothes that are in our closets.
So what's the best way in times like these to stay happy, to keep from slipping into a dark and fearful place? Living in the present may be the answer that is staring us right in the face. Rather than worrying about a lot of problems that we can't necessarily fix, we can recognize what is not wrong in this very moment. If we live in the present we may realize that just in this moment, nothing is really wrong. Once we're there, we can begin to appreciate the moment that is actually surrounding us. We can live in it, enjoy it, interact with it and be nourished by it. We can move out of our frozenness and into a spontaneous give and take.
One of the easiest and fastest ways to come into this new mental space is through moment to moment awareness and being grateful for what is there, rather than grinding away in our heads about what isn't, chasing our own shadow so to speak. From the moment we wake up we can realize what we have, a warm bed to sleep in, a hot cup of coffee or tea, food, a place to live, family members or friends to share our lives with, work of some sort......we can go on and on. Grounding our awareness in these not so small blessings brings our attention into the moment and shifts our feeling state in a calm and positive direction. Try it for a couple of days, good feelings have a way of expanding and building on themselves just as bad ones do, the more we feel them the more we feel them., one feeling leads to or actually creates another. We may not be able to control everything that's going on around us, but we can control our attitude; we can guide our own feeling states, all of which translates into feeling more happiness and a greater overall sense of well being.