I’m continuing to work my way through Domonique Bertolucci’s book, The Happiness Code. And I’m doing it slowly – which is a miracle for me. I literally inhale fiction. But, in this instance I’m reading and rereading each chapter before I move on. (And I’m obviously writing about it because – as you may have gathered – writing helps me process stuff!)
Bertolucci’s third key to happiness is about presents. Oops, I mean presence. It’s about living in the now.
In our neverending quest for happiness (such a Gen X desire isn’t it? Or perhaps just wanky self-indulgent crap?!), Bertolucci recommends we ‘accept the past, dream of the future but live in the moment’.
The notion of ‘living in the now’ is oft-discussed (though again, I suspect baby boomers or those before them who lived through depressions and world wars may beg to differ!), so I won’t go into any detailed explanations. Rather, I thought I’d draw on my own experiences, or rather the challenges I face when I try to be more ‘mindful’.
I’ve talked before about my need to find or allocate ‘blame’.
I mean, the predicament in which I find myself (WAY less-than-perfect and not the me I want to be) has to be SOMEONE’S fault, doesn’t it? And I’ve already fallen on that pointy sword, in the first post in this series; owning up to being at fault.
I had a conversation recently (and I can’t quite grasp the detail in my mind), but basically I talked about clinging onto blame and anger. It’s like I need the excuse. After all, if I’m kinda fucked-up then my over-eating and binge-eating is acceptable. Right? It’s the chicken and egg all over again: if I’m a binge eater then I’m expected to binge eat. I have permission to buy all sorts of crap and indulge as wantonly as possible. Because I’m fucked-up.
There’s a quote from Bertolucci I like:
“Living in the past is a direct barrier to happiness and one of the most effective ways you can remove this barrier is by recognizing that nobody from your past is responsible for your future.”
Even me, I wonder?
The other obstacle I face to ‘living in the now’ is – as Bertolucci puts it – ‘wasting your life away dreaming of the future’; and she reminds us to enjoy our achievements rather than focusing on the next goal.
She relays a story about a childless single woman (HELLO?!?!), who became consumed with what was ‘missing’ from her life, rather than focusing on what she had (good job, home, friends). Bertolucci reminds us to make the most of what we do have, rather than wishing for the things we don’t.
“It’s okay to aspire to a better life, but don’t let it stop you from enjoying the life you already have.”
But at the end of the day ‘living in the now’ is, quite frankly, a difficult one for me as I am not particularly good at being present. I don’t do ‘still’.
Although I spend A LOT of time alone (willingly) I rarely just sit with myself in stillness.
In fact, as a result of my recent absence of fiction reading fodder I’ve noticed my bath time has decreased significantly. I’m famous for my love of baths, but the long decadent ritual is only possible if my mind is occupied.
I’ve touched on it recently, but (I have to be honest) I’m really struggling with the notions of presence and purpose in my new life.
There’s much about my sea change that I love. I have ABSOLUTELY no regrets about finishing my old job and moving. None. At. All.
But without other stuff (things that preoccupied me and caused my less-than-happy-state), I’m confronted with myself and my own thoughts. I’m realizing that – for someone who has spent a lot of time over-analysing every aspect of their life – I really don’t know what I want. (Big picture AND small picture!)
I stomp from room to room, from my desk to my bed thinking about what I SHOULD be doing and wondering what it is I WANT to be doing.
Perhaps I’m being impatient in expecting to feel settled after just a couple of months. Perhaps – as I’ve said in my other blog – my edginess is about the physical ‘space’ in which I currently find myself. Or maybe, just maybe, the time is right and I’m poised for real change. Perhaps – if I’m really lucky – the stuff I’m writing about and working through now will help me find happiness in my new life (or in my life full-stop).
Do you live in the now?