The Peace of Presence

If you are depressed, you are living in the past.

If you are anxious, you are living in the future.

If you are at peace, you are living in the present.

~ Lao Tzu

Last week was my 44th birthday. I debated whether or not to tell you my age and decided, “Why not?”. I am not someone to claim to be 29 for the 15th time. Actually, I am grateful to grow older, grateful for each birthday. Because I lived after my heart attack, I get to have birthdays.

But that doesn’t mean my birthday didn’t come with any strife. The old me, the pre-heart attack me, was consistently focused in the future. I was a worrier, full of fret over what was to come.

The new me is committed to living in the present. I strive to be present in all I do, thinking about the current activity, intentionally focusing. But it does not come naturally! Last week I was preoccupied with what I haven’t yet accomplished, thinking about the goals and dreams I haven’t met. The drive to do more and more is strong.

The drive to be present takes effort. My natural tendency is to fret. To worry about what is to come is what I know how to do. Anxiety about getting everything on the to-do list done is just underneath the surface facade. Thankfully I don’t spend much time on the past; I don’t find myself in depression very often.

What about you? What is at the core of your focus? Are your thoughts and feelings generally pointed toward the future, producing anxiety? Or are you generally preoccupied by the past, the light laser focused on your missteps, how you were done wrong?

Or perhaps you are a present-focused person, a person of peace. You have realized the fruitlessness of giving power to the past, which is done, or to the future, which is unknowable.

I call attention here to the past, the present, and the future because we have a choice. To be at peace with ourselves, to reduce stress and, therefore, to be more kind to our bodies, we truly have a choice.

I don’t have the answers except to suggest that noticing the orientation of your thoughts is the first step. We have a lot of power to create our own peace.

Make it a good week!

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2 thoughts on “The Peace of Presence

  1. Happy birthday! I agree with you about birthdays…I’m also so grateful for another year. Great post though…I too am a worrier and you’re right, being in the present is a struggle. Which is silly when you think about it, but sometimes it seems really difficult to just BE. Have a great week!

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