Quite often we hear ourselves and others talking about the “Good Old Days”, when times were simpler and maybe even less hectic. But what about “The Good New Days” where we have a clean slate on which to design our lives any way we most desire.
It is these good new days which I will be discussing a bit in this article. There is so much potential which we are leaving on the table when our focus and attention is not on what is presently going on. Let’s dig a little deeper on this subject.
It’s All a Matter of Perspective
When we get brutally honest with ourselves, we are then willing to take a closer look to see if the past really was all that good. We can look back and paint the picture any way we like, but were things actually better than today? In fact, if we have some of the same beliefs and attitudes currently, things will not have changed much at all.
It is enjoyable to reminisce about things gone by, and some of the experiences we had and the people we miss. Doing this is quite natural and can make us feel grateful for what we have experienced.
But for some, these were not good old days at all. Having worked in the mental health field for many years with emotionally challenged kids, some of whom have been abused in one way or another, I found that they had strong bonds to people and things in their past; even to their abusers and enablers.
There is a term for this called Stockholm Syndrome, which is also known as Trauma Bonding. These kids had a strong sense of loyalty toward their abusers regardless of how damaging that bond was. My desire is not to go into any psychological assessment here of the whys and how’s, but to indicate that there is strong resistance to engage in behaviors which will allow them to break free from these bonds. In fact, they will support the abusers, and be hostile to any potential rescuers.
This gives you an idea of how strong our ties can be to the past even when those experiences were not that great. All of us have resistance to letting go of this and that in our lives, but when we recognize that this is so, we are more willing to realize that the way to our freedom is to embrace the present moment and creat consciously some good new days.
Embracing the Present Moment
For our discussion here it does not matter what our experiences were; the main point is to focus our energy where it will do us the most good Right This Very Moment. Whether our past is considered good or bad, we are able to create the life we want in the present.
Just as the kids with whom I worked reframed their experiences from the past in order to find some semblance of sanity and security, we also tend to put too much emphasis on days gone by. What we could do instead is use all of those experiences to empower us in the present moment.
No matter what we have experienced, we can use it to benefit ourselves and others right now, For example, I have a dear friend who was terribly abused in her past. She has spent many years processing this, and she now is able to bring much value to others in her work in the natural health field.
What is most important is our present mindset, and the decisions and choices which follow from that mindset. This is what will be responsible for what we experience from this point forward, and which will enable us to contribute in many ways to the lives of others, as well as creating many “good new days”.
So how do we let go of all the noise in our head and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the essence of our beingness in the present? It sounds like it is easier said than done.
Well like all new endeavors, it will take a bit of practice and effort in the beginning. Habits of mind run deep and can be resistant to change.
“Don’t wait to be successful at some future point. Have a successful relationship with the present moment and be fully present in whatever you are doing. That is success.” — Eckhart Tolle —
There are a few routines which we can develop which will break us loose from our memory journeys, whether they were pleasant times or were filled with negative happenings and old conflicts. Also, we often find ourselves spending quite a bit of time wanting to be somewhere else in the future, where we envision things as being a lot better than now.
The paradox is that things will never be better in some imagined future state unless things are acceptable and fulfilling now. Let’s now go over a few suggestions which just may help you find it easier to let go and embrace the present moment.
- What has helped me tremendously is learning to just Slow Down. Life is not a race to get over with or reach a certain point so that we can then be happy and fulfilled. Life is happening now and always has. When we take things a bit slower we are not only able to be more effective in what we are doing, but we actually are able to discover the true joy in what we are doing.
- Find time to meditate a few moments here and there during the day. This does not have to be for long periods of time. Just a few minutes will allow you to relax and let go of some of the stress and tension which builds up through our daily rushing to get things done.
- It also helps a lot to do one thing at a time. Multi-tasking can be helpful at times when you are under a deadline, but by planning your tasks as much as you can, you are able to eliminate a certain amount of this frantic activity. We are much more effective when we do one project at a time as we are able to give it all of our energy and full attention.
- Another way I have used to stay present more often is to consciously engage all of my senses in what I am doing. Become aware of your senses of touch, hearing, sight, smell, and taste in the moment, and ask yourself if you are present now. The very moment that you ask that, you ARE present.
- Although we will still drift away from the present, it is important to continue to remind ourselves to stay here by asking “Am I present now?” as often as we remember to during the day. This will quickly snap us back to the now, and the more we do this the easier it will become to stay present.
- I cannot leave this section without suggesting one of the best ways to stay present and enjoy the moment; this is by being grateful for what we have. There is so much power in this because it is the truth of our very existence. Gratitude and appreciation go a very long way.
By doing some or all of these exercises on a regular basis, we will discover that much stress and worry will simply dissipate. Now this does not mean we cannot plan for the future. That is a necessary part of our lives, but we do not have to obsess about it, and expect it to deliver any type of joy or happiness which is not already available to us right this moment.
Without any focusing on any thoughts or feelings which we are experiencing that may not be all that great, everything in our lives would be fine right this moment. If we did not label them this or that, we could allow them just to pass through without giving them any attention. Then we can experience the day in peace and harmony doing whatever it is we choose to do.
Let’s explore this a bit before we finish up here. The Greek philosopher Plato, from his work the Republic (514 AD to 520 AD), has a section which is called Plato’s Cave or the Allegory of the Cave. In this he has his mentor Socrates describe a scene where a group of people have been chained to a wall their entire lives staring at a blank wall. They can see shadows of objects which are reflected on the wall from a fire which is behind them. This is all the reality which they know.
The lesson from this story is that we are all like the prisoners in the cave; we only know what is front of us even though what we are viewing may only be shadows of reality. Once we are freed from our own individual caves, we come to realize that the shadows which we see are not reality at all. At this point we are able to perceive the true form of reality.
An important point here, which goes back to what I was mentioning about our resistance to breaking free from our bonds, is that the majority of these prisoners in the cave do not even want to leave. This is all that they know.
Eventually, these prisoners break their bonds and are able to emerge from their illusions of what they thought life/reality was. They emerge from the cave to discover the sun, which was always there but merely hidden from view. But at the same time the sun is not understandable to someone who has spent their entire life believing the illusions, shadows, and false reality of the cave. This shows why there is so much resistance to change.
When a person has been in the dark so long, the bright light of the sun will hurt his or her eyes. This makes it hard to see the objects which are casting the shadows. At this point it may be too painful to believe that what was thought to be real is not true at all. There is then a tendency to retreat back to the cave or what is most familiar. The pain of change is simply too great. In this case, the sun would hurt your eyes.
If one stays out of the cave long enough his or her eyes will adjust to the light of the sun. This is a gradual process. Now this prisoner would want to share what he found with others. He desires to bring his fellow cave dwellers out to the sunlight and freedom. When the former prisoner reenters the cave the darkness will have a similar effect as the sun had, and will blind the person temporarily. But the prisoners will interpret this as his journey was a failure and they should stay put. At this point the prisoners would kill anyone who tried to drag them out of the cave into the sunlight.
This is a symbolic story of the nature of perception. We are engulfed within the darkness of ignorance (the cave), but the light of wisdom (the sun) is available to us all.
The “good new days” are always available to us once we emerge from the cave of our outmoded beliefs and perceptions. We are able to ride the Vehicle of Awareness, which is powered by the present moment to emerge from our caves into the sunlight of the Good New Days.
May you all discover the Light and Love within Yourselves which is there Right Now.