Dr. Rolf Merkle , Psychotherapist
If you want to get an impression of what it means to live in the here and now, watch small children. Picture © Christian Schwier – Fotolia
Children can be enthusiastic about everything. They enjoy whatever they do and they are enthusiastic and dedicated.
Children don’t think about tomorrow or yesterday. They are not paralyzed by negative attitudes and expectations.
They don’t have “wenns” and “abers” with which they decide in advance that they won’t enjoy anything.
They approach other people openly and without prejudice and quickly make friends.
Have you ever observed how quickly children overcome negative feelings such as anger or sadness? They don’t walk around all day with a rage in their stomach and hang their heads.
After a few seconds or minutes they have forgotten the incident and are already back with devotion to something else.
I enjoy watching kids. We can learn so much from them. When little Peter on the playground asks a boy: “Do you want to play with me?” and the other boy says “No”, then this is not a catastrophe for Peter.
He won’t take his own life for that. He may be sad for a moment, but the next moment he goes to another boy and asks again: “Do you want to play with me?
And what do we adults do? When we ask someone else “Do you want to play with me?” and they say “No”, we fall into depression or even think about taking our lives.
When we were kids, we were all spontaneous. We lived moment by moment without worrying about the future or grieving about the past.
Then our parents and educators came and warned us not to behave so carelessly and childishly.
We should stop doing this or that and behave like adults, which means as much as walking along seriously.
“If you go on like this, you’ll never grow up” or “How can you be so childish at your age?”
Through all the commandments and admonitions of our educators we have lost more and more spontaneity and creativity.
We have learned to be alive and to participate in life.
Let’s face it! When was the last time you played a harmless joke on someone?
Or how do you react when others play a trick on you? Are you angry, do you find it silly or do you laugh with them?
When we grow up, our lives lose a lot of surprises and spontaneity.
For many of us, the seriousness of life begins when we grow up. And then we wonder where all the fun, cheerfulness and light-heartedness have gone.
What are most of us like today? Are we happy adults? Have we done well to give up the child in us and grow up?
No! Most of all we admire people who have retained a certain spontaneity and naturalness, who are open to everything new, who can spontaneously inspire themselves and carry others along with them, who have thus retained the child within themselves.
The adult in us often has no sense for joy and fun. Therefore let the little young or the little girl have their say in us. Then our life becomes more lively and beautiful.
Let us take the risk of being smiled at by others and branded as childish.
Let the others run around serious and bored. We prefer to be childish and have fun.
Suggestions to live more in the here and now
First, be grateful. Rejoice when you and your loved ones are healthy. Do not take this for granted.
Enjoy what you have achieved and the amenities you can afford. Gratitude is an inexhaustible source of satisfaction.
2. take a short break during the day frequently, in which you reflect on yourself and your life.
Think of something beautiful and be happy that you are in possession of your mental and physical powers.
Make use of the power feeling of gratitude.
Third, live more consciously. Open yourself up to the little violet that stands by your roadside day after day.
This can be a flower, a bird, the friendly word of a fellow human being, a nice gesture of your work colleague or partner.
Enjoy the little things for a moment before they go down again in everyday life. Mindfulness is what this is called.
4 Living in the here and now means to banish all thoughts of the past or the future from your thinking.
Dale Carnegie once put it that way:
Seal off the past and the future from the present as you close a door behind you.
Most emotional and interpersonal problems arise because we think about problems, grievances and injuries in the past or worry about the future.
Hence my advice:
Stop feeding your problems. Then they are less stressful.
Practice being attentive only to what you see, hear and taste.
Take a few deep breaths and relax.
Close the door – figuratively speaking – behind you and concentrate only on what is there.
The more you practice it, the easier it will be for you.