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Last month my newsletter talked about the daunting reality of living to work and pay bills and not having enough time for what is really important. My way of dealing with this concept is to enjoy what I do and live in the present moment. I am fortunate to love my work, but I know so many people who don’t and for them work can be a burden.

I got a response from one of my clients with whom I worked with for several years. He is now 73 years old and has retired in Mexico. He has had a rich and rewarding life and I always enjoyed his stories and his point of view. He was quite independent from a young age and being bright and worked as a successful engineer all around the United States and overseas. Every so often he comes through Portland and I am honored to be a part of his tour stop.

With his permission I share his thoughts with you…

Tamara, I read your writing on everyday life and the comment of your daughter “…is this all there is?”  (Peggy Lee 1969) song lyrics can be found on the internet and perhaps are apropos. You offered something like a person will work for a living throughout life unless he comes into enough money to preclude that necessity. Speaking from experience, I offer my thoughts: As human animals, we must have basic necessities and the where with all to acquire them.  But as humans we need fulfillment.  That fulfillment can be anything from doing great things to merely enjoying life and all the wondrous things that can be experienced. Coming into wealth will not change a person.  If a person has not found the fun and  beauty of life and of this world while in a working model, he or she  will not find them after all monetary cares go away, the toys are purchased, and trips taken. I meet and talk with quite a few well off retirees here in La Paz. For a while, they are happy with the freedom from daily schedule, monetary worries,  and work issues and basically do nothing (sail, beach comb, shop the Mexican markets, etc.). But after a while many say “…Is this all there is?”

During my working career from ages 15 to 70, I was fortunate to enjoy my work and recreation. Managing construction of major projects around the world was challenging and rewarding. I lived in places people dream of vacationing in. For recreation, the outdoors and all the crazy other stuff I did were complimentary to my profession.

Somewhere I fell into the idea that a person can do one of four things while living through experiences. Be rueful, accept, enjoy, or be ecstatic about whatever is going on. The first is not an option and a waste of time. For me the lowest is mere acceptance. I do my best to at least enjoy. And that is not automatic, I need to help myself by looking at things differently and of course going toward things I know I will enjoy. Ecstasy is not every day and is the icing, perhaps a life’s reward of sorts.

You and Ruiz (author of The Four Agreements) showed me much of that. However, somehow I also picked it up way back when I was a youngster, probably from my parents and family.

I get the blahs even now. To get out of them, I become present for a time and then restart myself. I then make an effort to see enjoyment in what is going on or make the effort to do something that will be more elevating. And as you suggested, I pray for happiness. Very important.

As someone older than original sin who has quite frankly done it all, my recommendation to someone with the “…Is this all there Is?” syndrome is to start by getting present and then becoming aware of and taking  advantage of all the things that can lead to enjoyment in the many ordinary work days of one’s life.

A green heron just landed on a palm frond by my lanai and he is looking for fish in the swimming pool. I could tie that in with what I wrote from the heron’s viewpoint and of course, mine. I hope he does not try to improve his fishing by moving to the rigging on my boat and pooping on the deck. Ha!

Peace and Happiness,

Gary”

10 Tips for Living in the Moment

1. When you notice you are not in the present bring yourself back to the here and now. You will need to remind yourself to do this a lot, especially in the beginning. I still need to do this a lot myself. I promise you that the more frequently you bring yourself back, the longer you stay in the present each time.

2. Breathing is key to most everything so breathe deeply and often. Being focused on breathing deeply will help you stay more present.

3. Create a visual image of bringing your thoughts back to the present. I imagine I am lassoing my thoughts and I have several fun ways of seeing myself doing this. Use your imagination and make it memorable.

4. Practice focusing 100% on your daily tasks using your senses to really make them come alive in a new way. Notice colors, shapes, sizes, sounds, fragrances, tastes and textures. Even what we think of being mundane can be quite stimulating when observed with full attention.

5. If you’re really struggling to focus on the present, sit down and write down your thoughts. Even if you’re not much of a writer, recording your thoughts will help you focus on what’s going on for you in that moment.

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