Connection is one of the most innate and fulfilling concepts human beings strive for. Whether that’s with other people, our surroundings or even ourselves, we feel like we belong because we connect to the world around us. It shapes our habits, our life and our sense of identity, something in itself that is constantly changing and evolving as we grow.
Sometimes, though, the routine of modern life - characterised by work, social occasions and always ‘being busy’ – can leave us feeling swept up in the act of always doing, instead of just being. With the rise of the online world and an increased insight into the lives of others, the comparison trap convinces us that if we’re not being productive all the time, we won’t reach the things we strive for. Even if you’ve managed to resist the allure of social media, standard working hours are long, pressure at work can be intense and time at home can be fleeting to say the least.
Life has the tendency to flash by and many of us are left feeling, if anything, cold and disorientated. On the surface, modern life is the most connected and rewarding it has ever been, yet technology and the culture of busyness has rendered many unfulfilled and isolated from what truly matters; life in the now. Too caught up in past events or future worries, we never just stop to take pleasure in all that we have. When we finally do, Lao Tzu’s wisdom comes to mind; "If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present."
It’s no secret that moments are brief and, for most, daily life isn’t spectacular or something to write home about. But isn’t it the knowledge that life is temporary that makes even the simplest things worth cherishing? As Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said, “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”
Being mindful about how you spend your time is key to mastering the art of now. A lifestyle that emerged out of the Slow Food Movement in 1986, Slow Living is all about nurturing the journey as well as the end destination. A resistance to the hustle that has come to dominate the lives of many, it is a move away from consumerism and the need for more. Defined by an awareness of thoughts and feelings as they arise, and the way these connect to the world around us, anything in life can be purposeful if we allow it to be; you don’t have to be constantly pushing towards something greater for moments to hold meaning. Even the simplest of things can project intention and reward.
This more mindful approach to life can be applied at any time. Attainable to all, it is a way of life that manifests through small but meaningful adjustments to your daily routine. Whether you have a matter of minutes or the luxury of an hour, even the busiest of people can find time in their day to sit and enjoy the present. From a cup of tea and reading a chapter of a book to going for a walk or taking a few breaths, life is precious and should be savoured where possible.
Next time you feel yourself striving for the next thing, why not take a moment to slow down and appreciate where you already are. Of course, running off to the woods for two years like Henry David Thoreau might be a little drastic, but this 19th Century man’s desire to live deliberately and with intention still stands; “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”