Finding contentment in any moment of life.
I’d never really cared about mindfulness and the joy of living in the moment.
I never cared about stopping—even for one minute—to breathe, to enjoy the incredible pleasures one has in life that are hidden before our eyes at any given time.
When I was living in Toronto, almost all the time, my mind was either consumed by work or complaining about a lack of events to go to, and I struggled in lonely anxiety to even plan for them. Even worse, I was craving for someone else to invite me to some event.
I didn’t realize that I already had so much by just appreciating what was already around me.
Sometimes, I would go outside alone. When that didn’t involve a running session, it inevitably would become one of obsessive thinking and negative judgment about myself—if I didn’t fill that time with a specific purpose or a specific place to go to.
I felt ashamed and sad, because, at a superficial level, that meant that I didn’t have a thriving social life. It meant that my life was boring and unhappy.
I didn’t realize that whenever I walked by myself with no destination, or sat still on a park bench, or climbed some stairs while going to work, or waited at the streetcar stop, or simply stood still at home—I had moments of potentially immense joy to savour.
Just staying there, still, or moving without purpose, while being alive, safe, and well—I didn’t know at the time that this was a practice of meditation. I didn’t know that I could have expanded my pleasure by just focusing on my breathing and appreciating whatever place or situation I was in.
We don’t realize what an immense gift is, just being able to live in and enjoy the simple reality of things.
I sincerely think I was a fool for not being grateful and thankful for every single moment of my life there.
I’m shocked when I observe in hindsight that nearly the only parts of my daily life that I valued (and that others value) as meaningful were the planned and “entertaining” ones. The ones often related to my social life—glamorous, or adventurous, or filled with fun “stuff” to do.
What I didn’t realize was the immense privilege of having a life in a beautiful world to be appreciated as is, in any given moment.
I’m shocked to think that I was feeling lonely or unsatisfied with my social life when the only thing I needed to do would have been to just be happy in the moment, wherever I was. That is already a lot.
Appreciating the moment, in any place, at any time, focusing on the breath, and mindfully absorbing the surroundings—this is something that I failed to recognize for such a long time.
I would have often felt shameful, or embarrassed, to be alone, because I thought I couldn’t claim to be “having fun,” to have an interesting life. I felt ashamed if I didn’t plan something special for the weekends, or the holidays, or the evenings after work.
I was wrong.
There doesn’t need to be anything special.
Let’s just learn to appreciate the simple reality of our surroundings, which are already plentiful of sources of joy.