Fast-paced. Hectic. Busy. Chaotic.
Ever use those words to describe your life (or work)?
I know I have. It’s no wonder, then, that we sometimes feel like our lives are spinning out of control. Like everything is moving so fast that we can barely hang on for the ride.
You may be tempted to write this off as “normal” and “just the way things are” — because life truly does move at a faster pace than ever before — but you can’t afford to do that.
Not only is living with the sense of being out of control unpleasant in the present — it brings on frustration, depression, resentment and other negative feelings — but it paves the way to a bleak future, too… when you wake up 5, 10, or 20 years from now and realize that your life has turned out nothing like you imagined.
You have to get back in control, and you can.
Focus on this moment.
Try a little exercise:
Write down everything that’s going through your head right now — all the stuff you need to attend to, all of your worries, all of your deadlines, everything that makes you say, “My life is out of control.”
Now, circle the items that really matter right now, at this very moment in time.
How many did you circle?
The reality is, we can only fully attend to one thing at a time. At this moment, all you’re doing is reading this blog. There’s no need to worry about anything else right now. (Unless there’s something that’s so urgent, in which case that’s the one thing you should be attending to right now!)
But we love to worry.
And what we usually do is try to bring our whole day, week, month — or sometimes life — into this one moment. We worry about everything (real or imagined), all at once.
Jesus advised against such worry when he said, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.” (Matthew 6:34, The Message)
Because when we do get “worked up” about all the uncertainties, we get overwhelmed. And then we disengage as a survival mechanism. Okay, I just need to get through this.
And then we feel like life is out of control, because it is… since we’ve disengaged from it.
If it only happened once in a while, “just-need-to-get-through-this” mode may not be so bad. The problem is, too many of us are living the majority of our lives in “just-need-to-get-through-this” mode. In that mode, you’re just passively floating down the river of life. Where it will take you, no one knows. (And what are the odds you’ll be happy with that outcome?)
But if we pause, take a breath, and engage in life one moment at a time, then we can be a full participant as life unfolds. This moment is actually the one thing we can control — because we’re here in this moment… right now… and we can influence the now.
And guess what? When you influence the now, you’re also influencing your future:
“…how we hold and understand this moment shapes what might emerge in the next moment, and the next…” – Jon Kabat-Zinn, Coming to Our Senses
Life is simply an accumulation of moments.
Don’t worry about trying to control the whole thing at once.
Just focus on this moment.
Engage in this moment as if it matters… because it does.