The sixth excerpt from my book – Hug a Pink Elephant
LIVING IN THE PRESENT
“Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.” ~ Samuel Johnson
First, and foremost, you really must learn to live in the present. Oh, I know, you’ve been hearing that phrase for years and years, but have you really HEARD it? Has it taken hold in your life?
Let’s do a little experiment. Remember a drive you took today, maybe to work or the grocery store. What do you remember of that little trip? Were there newly sprouted flowers along the road? Was everything exactly the same as it is every day? Did you look at ANYONE in an adjacent car? The same holds true for walking or taking a morning run – same questions.
I remember once being terribly embarrassed because I was sobbing on the way home from a horrendous day at work. I thought someone would see me crying hard enough to feel a tad faint and be concerned. Then I glanced around me and realized no one was looking. And I suddenly knew if I had been driving next to myself, I wouldn’t have noticed me either.
That is NOT living in the present.
We often go through the motions of life and zone out. How many times have you driven home and when you arrived couldn’t remember anything about the ride. Didn’t remember doing it at all. This is a very common phenomenon. But who wants to live our lives that way? When we wake up from our zombie-like state we are shocked and feel a bit frightened and well we should.
Getting back to those questions – DID you see anything different along the way? If not, you are zoning out and not really seeing what is in your world. So what if I didn’t notice any flowers, you may be thinking. Or – I really don’t care if the guy in the car next to me is asleep at the light. Don’t be defensive. If you’re reading Hugs you want to be aware. You want to be alive every minute of every day.
So make yourself stop for a few minutes and look around you, right where you’re at right now. What is the mood where you are? The colors and scents? Who is there with you? How are they feeling right now? How are you feeling? Grab your adventure notebook and write a few things down about your surroundings. Now – try to dig a little deeper. Don’t make this an empty exercise.
Once you’ve written down what you are sensing right now, step back and ask yourself, do I see these things normally? The answer is almost certainly no, because very few people do. But the better you get at seeing what is going on around you throughout your day, the better you will be at finding adventure in each day.
“Positive self-expectancy is pure and simple optimism: real enthusiasm for everything you do. And optimism is expecting the most favorable result from your own actions.” ~ Denis Waitley
This one statement, originally from Psychology of Winning, has stuck with me for almost 30 years now. I believe deeply allowing this principle to sink into your very soul will lift you every moment of your life going forward. It must be so engrained that, no matter how awful things are, you truly believe you’ll eventually get to where you want to be.
I had it easy. I am a naturally optimistic person. So much so that I can be annoying at times, especially if someone just wants to wallow in their misery.
I had someone once ask me, “Can’t I just wallow for a while?” My answer was and is, “NO!” Wallowing in it, rolling around in the slop that is unhappiness has absolutely no benefit. So now, in this moment, I tell you to shake it off if that’s what you’re doing. Because there is no help for you as long as that’s your preference. You will not get there. You will not have more adventure because you don’t really want it. In fact, I predict if you insist on being a die-hard pessimist, you’ll live a mostly miserable life.
And there is no excuse for it. I’ve shown you people in the direst circumstances who rose above them. You can, too.
All that being said, I doubt very many pessimists will buy my book. You have to have a primarily hopeful personality to even reach for it or anything else. So, now that we’ve all accepted one must be positive and expect good things from the world and ourselves in order to go any further, let’s talk about obsession.
FROM MILD CURIOSITY TO OBSESSION
“Your ability to use the principle of autosuggestion will depend, very largely, upon your capacity to concentrate upon a given desire until that desire becomes a burning obsession.” ~ Napoleon Hill
We tend to think of obsession as a bad thing and it is if poorly applied. However, if you are someone – like me – who has a mild curiosity about most things, then obsession is actually a good thing.
Here’s what I mean. That morning drive, walk or run we talked about earlier goes like this if you’re simply curious – “Oh, look what a pretty tree. I wonder what kind it is.” Seconds later the tree, thought, and experience have left you and you’re on to the newest pretty thing in your line of sight.
If you’re more obsessive, or even selectively so, your thought patterns may lead you this direction, “Pretty tree. Wonder what kind it is. Let me take a picture on my phone so I can look it up when I get home.” And then you do look it up. Maybe you decide it’s the exact tree you’d like to plant in your backyard and lo and behold the next weekend you’re at the local nursery purchasing one, after you’ve carefully researched it online and figured out exactly what spot – sun, shade, soil – in which it will grow best.
The tree, which was a momentary pleasure in your day (and completely worthy of appreciation as just that) has now transformed into a permanent part of your life. This is obsession put to good use.
You’ll need this type of obsession to make things happen for you, not just as a trait in this pursuit of adventure, but also in anything you wish to pursue which isn’t just dumped in your lap. A little obsession can go a long way.
FOLLOWING A SET OF FOOTPRINTS
One of the things you’ll likely experience is a desire to do something you’ve seen someone else do successfully. Perhaps your father was a great woodsman and you want to be that as well. Or maybe your best friend left for France the day after graduation from college, wandered Europe for a couple of years before she returned to become president of a local bank and you think you need to tour Europe and be more like her.
You may have none of the natural skills of your father the woodsman or a life already complicated by family and job now, rather than being a carefree post-college woman. In both cases, there is nothing wrong with aspiring to the paths others have taken as long as you realize your path is and will be different than theirs.
In other words, do not hold up someone else’s life as what yours should be like. There is no good way this can end. You are you and thank goodness for it. Your path could have way more potential and eventually more richness than the person’s in whose footsteps you seek to walk anyway.
For instance, while the impulse to be just like your dad may be admirable (but without his innate skills also dangerous), you can go beyond your desire to BE him by actually honing your skills with a trainer or mentor. Maybe one-day you’re the Bear Grylls (a very famous British survival adventurist) of Denver. Don’t roll your eyes at me! It’s completely possible.
Maybe, you manage to take your family on a one-year cruise around the world, in the sailboat you and your partner have been restoring for the past five years. You pull the kids out of school, both take a leave of absence, and instead of simply having the time of your life by yourself, you give yourself and those you love most deeply a life-altering experience.
To be inspired by someone is wonderful. It is often the thing which gets you started on your own path. But realize you, yes, little old you, could easily leave a bigger and better set of footprints. And even if they are not bigger and better, they will be your own – completely.
Use others’ footprints as a guide, not a blueprint. Unless you’re searching for buried treasure with a map left to you by a distant relative, then you may want to be exact! Here’s wishing you inherit a treasure map!