Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thoughts about The Present

Call me trunky for graduate school.

I miss reading. I miss thinking. I miss writing.

So I opened my own private school: Master Watson’s Academy.
Current Enrollment: 1, moi.

First reading assignment: The Present, by Spencer Johnson.
Book Review: (see below)

Spencer Johnson had already made my author fan club with his insightful book: Who Moved my Cheese?, a creative story about two rats and two humans that paints a realistic picture of different individuals’ reaction to change.

Johnson’s second book used the same technique to teach me about the power of being content in the present, regardless of unmet expectations or superb blessings.

Consider this line, “Pain is the difference between what is, and what you want it to be” (p. 39). The present can be consumed by an array of pains:

What: physical or mental isolation from God, family and friends.
Want: Pure love from God, family and friends despite words or actions.
What: an absence of hope
Want: a reason to hope, evidence or assurance life will be better.

What: a lack of trust in God, life and circumstance
Want: safe and stable environment, the assurance that he/she is protected from the storms of life.
What: the dread of mistakes, flaws and imperfections
Want: success, perfection, recognition

True, while such a list is far from complete, all four of those pains are broadcasted daily on our personal America’s Most Wanted networks. We all feel lonely, without hope, fearful and imperfect at one time or the other. Yet, Johnson claimed the key to overcoming such consuming emotions was to “appreciate what is right at the moment” (p. 38). Such feelings allow one to become more relaxed and find joy in the present. More importantly, focusing on what is right is like installing a security system for some of our most precious joys—love, learning and laughter. Each can be felt every day regardless of circumstance. They’re gifts from above.

Yet, living in the moment is only one piece of the puzzle, Johnson claimed. “We live in the present, learn from the past and plan for the future” (p. 67).

How does one learn from the past? “It is hard to let go of the past if you have not learned from the past; as soon as you learn and let go, you improve the present” (p. 50). Letting go may mean admitting that one was wrong, or it may even mean accepting injustice or the result of prejudice. Hannah, it could be as simple as confessing eating an entire box of corn dogs in one sitting was not ideal. Learn and Let go. “Remember that you did the best you knew how at the time” (p. 56).

Finally, Johnson wrote, planning for the future, reduces one’s fear and uncertainty, because regardless of what happens, he/she is actively taking a step toward his/her defined success. For me, defined successes have included serving as a state FFA officer, graduating from college, completing a mission, obtaining a master degree, and landing my dream job. Yet currently, my fears and uncertainties have doubled because I don’t quite understand what is on the next horizon. Promotions? Property? Prestige? Horse pooh. Such successes seem unworthy of my personal passion. So I’m stuck, at least for now, searching the stacks of my soul’s library for the map towards my next success.

However Johnson’s next lesson may save me some time: “living in the present, learning from the past and planning for the future is not all there is. It is only when you work and live with purpose and respond to what’s important about the present, past and future, that is all has meaning” (p. 75).

Aha! Now there is the key to joy in the present: purpose. An assurance of knowing that one’s personal actions are making a difference, however the difference is defined in his/her soul: preaching God’s word, volunteering to teach a language or skill in a developing country, or growing organic carrots. How small or how indifferent such actions may appear, the result brings a sustainable joy in the moment.

Accept Today. Learn from Yesterday. Plan for Tomorrow. Live Life with Purpose.

Such small bits of wisdom may as Johnson concluded hold the secrets to making individual happier and more successful today.

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