Avoid Anxiety by Staying in the Now
I have never seen the link between mindfulness and happiness as clearly as I have this summer. In May we sold our house, packed up our belongings, and sent them from Arizona to our soon-to-be new home in Northern Virginia. Then we left for what I thought would be a fun-filled summer visiting family and traveling with friends. It has been great, but we haven’t been able to enjoy it as much as I had hoped because we are all so anxious about our move.
Will we love our new house as much as we loved our home in Arizona? Will the kids like their new schools? Will we find new friends who we enjoy as much as our old ones?
Of course it is normal to be worried about the future when everything is so new and uncertain. But what I find interesting is that when we moved from Spain to the States 8 years ago the kids showed absolutely no signs of anxiety, even though it was a much bigger move. It took 3 months for our belongings to cross the ocean and we were moving to another country with a different language and culture. But at 5 and 7 years old our children weren’t worried about the future. They swam, ate their ice cream and played games all summer without a care in the world. At that time they were still blessed with the gift children have of living in the present in the moment. And what a fantastic source of happiness that is!
In her book, Soul-Centered, Sarah McLean discusses how children live in the here and now, but as they grow we teach them to focus more on the future. When children see presents under the tree they want to open them now, not count down the days until Christmas. They would rather see how tall they can make their Lego tower than think about what they want to be when they grow up.
Yes, planning is a good thing, but happiness comes from enjoying the present moment and not constantly worrying about the future. I am trying to practice mindfulness this summer, to focus on the wonderful experiences we are having. But like my teenagers, I can’t always stop my mind from wandering into the future and feeling anxious about everything that we will face as we transition into our new lives.