The concept of “living in the now”, “living in the present” or “living for today” was a constant theme in my early AA meetings, in my rehab program and in life in general. I kept hearing this phrase come at me, like a broken record. I wanted to live for today, it seemed so simple, and people who I thought had really grasped it seemed so serene.
But, try as I might, it was still a foreign concept for me. I’m terrible with regret. Well, not regret exactly, but I look back at certain moments from my past and think about what I could have done differently. Even though that’s totally useless. I do it all the time anyway.
I also do what they refer to in AA as “future tripping.” Where I get so caught up in what’s going to happen tomorrow, a week from now, a year from now, five years from now, that I totally forget to enjoy the moment I’m in.
So, I tried and I tried and I tried to live for today. To be present. To enjoy every moment. But because of my anxiety and worrying, I couldn’t. And then I was anxious and worried about that.
I still have a lot of trouble with this, but I did read something recently that helped me understand the whole thing a lot better, and gave me something to repeat to myself when I find that I can’t concentrate on the moment at hand.
I have an app on my phone from Hazelden that provides me with daily little snippets of advice and encouragement for addicts like me. A few weeks ago, it started with a quote.
“Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.”
The paragraphs following reminded me that, “This day is all we really have to work with.” Again, something I had heard time and again, and mostly understood as a concept. But it was the quote that helped me figure out how to put it into practice. How to start being the kind of person that truly lives for today.
At the end of the meditation, the action item was, “May my supper be my contentment. I’ll breakfast on hope again tomorrow.” It was like a lightbulb went off in my head. Start the day off thinking of your hopes and goals for the day, and end the day content with what you had accomplished.
I was caught up in a cycle of starting my day worried about what would happen in the distant future, and ending my day irritated with myself for all the things I hadn’t accomplished. How can a person ever hope to live in the present if they are constantly bombarding themselves with worries about the past and the future?
And the idea of having hope at the beginning of the day is such an amazing concept to me. Today is the only thing we really have. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come. It’s just today. And in the morning when you first open your eyes, and you realize you’ve been allowed another day here on Earth, that’s when you should have your hopes. When the day is new and fresh and wide open.
But the other part of this equation is key too. The idea that when your day draws to a close, that you will feel contentment. Accomplishment. Serenity. Don’t focus on what you did not do. Or what you are worried about needing to do the next day. Instead think of all that was accomplished on that day. Because we all accomplish at least one thing every day, chances are you accomplished a great number of things. And no accomplishment is too small to be proud of.
Living for today can be easier than you thought, and will certainly benefit your sobriety, healing and recovery.