Sunday, October 23, 2022

Weekly Inspiration: Living in the Moment

Chronic illness is filled with challenges, and it can be difficult--or even feel impossible--to be happy in the midst of a life ruled by limits and restrictions. But it is possible, and I wrote a whole book with ideas on how to improve your life with chronic illness, embrace small moments of joy, and find happiness within your limitations. I'm always interested in learning more, though!

I came across this TED talk called Want to Be Happier? Stay in the Moment by researcher Matt Killingsworth who studies happiness. It's a short 10-minute talk, but I found it very interesting and thought-provoking. Matt studied data from an app where people rate their happiness at different times of day and say what kind of activity they are doing and whether their mind is wandering. The results are fascinating. You can watch the talk below (or watch at the link):

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He talks a lot here about staying in the moment and the impacts when your mind wanders. This is something I definitely struggle with. In fact, while watching this video and trying to listen and enjoy it, I realized my mind kept wandering! I was thinking about what I'd write in this post, what I wanted to get done today, how bad my aches are today, and how to rearrange the shelf of cookbooks in my kitchen. And that was all in just 10 minutes!

On the other hand, as I was getting ready for bed last night, I realized I was feeling very happy, maybe even euphoric! I thought about our evening. Because of my months-long relapse, I haven't been able to go out much or see friends very often. Good friends invited us over for dinner last night a few days ago, but I didn't want to schedule something, have them plan, shop, and cook, and then have to cancel. So, I texted them yesterday morning and said, "Hey, I'm feeling OK today. Do you guys want to come over for takeout and a campfire?" They did, and we had a wonderful evening catching up with them, eating delicious Thai food, and enjoying a roaring fire on a beautiful fall evening. Several things made me happy last night: seeing friends and enjoying good conversation, good food from one of our favorite restaurants, and spending time outdoors, which always lifts my spirits. And all while I was reclined in my lounge chair at home! But now, after listening to this talk, I am realizing that I was also fully engaged in the moment last night, with little mind wandering. 

I think I need to focus more on this concept of mind wandering because even when my body is incapacitated and lying on the couch, my mind is constantly thinking about other things. Even when I'm watching TV, I'm usually checking e-mail or scrolling Twitter (a new bad habit, thanks to finally having a smart phone!), or glancing at the newspaper. (One thing I love about reading a book is that you can't do other stuff; you have to focus, which allows you to lose yourself in the story.) With chronic illness, we have the added challenges of constantly assessing our current condition: Do I need to eat? Is it time for meds? What caused this crash? Did I do too much yesterday? What will I be able to do tomorrow? Some of that is necessary, but I'd like to reduce all this mind wandering, especially when I'm doing something that should be enjoyable!

I want to try to focus more on not just living in the moment but recognizing and enjoying the moment, even if my happiness is from simple joys, like lying in the sunshine on our deck, looking at fall foliage, or reading a good book.

How about you?

Do you struggle with an overactive mind?

How do you help yourself to live in the moment?

Let me know in the comments below.


InvisiblyMe said...

“Killingsworth”. What a great name! Before I got sick, I quite liked being mindful. Things were slower then, no guilt, no real stress other than an emotionally-heavy and intense job. I could “be” with myself and my emotions and time went slower. These days it’s the total opposite and I don’t even want to be present most of the time. My mind wanders like your does just watching a 10 minute video! I’ve found that being mindful now takes a lot of effort, but it’s also so very worth it. I’m so appreciative of the small things, the small joys like birdies in the garden, my head pad, a good cuppa tea, pretty clouds in the sky.

I was so glad to read how happy you felt one night before going to bed, and that you got to see friends. I hope you can continue to work on the wandering mind and being more present in your day to day life wherever possible.

Caz xx

Sue Jackson said...

That's so interesting, Caz - I was not very mindful before I got sick! I was constantly on the move, with kids, work, house, friends - just busy all the time. These days, I am still too busy, even though I can only do a little bit! Definitely a work in progress :)

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