There’s nothing like hindsight to make the dots of your life connect. It’s easy to look back and see how challenges and obstacles that you encountered eventually led you to growth, opportunity, and maybe even happiness. We say things like, “If I hadn’t been through that, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” and so on. It seems so obvious, in retrospect. From the comfort of the other side of it, we wonder how we could have ever been upset about it at the time. If only we’d known that it was going to be ok, we wouldn’t have suffered so much in the moment.
Have you ever listened to an older person reflect back on their life? There’s a video making the rounds lately where several women share the advice they’d give their younger selves. The moments they seem most grateful for are those that can be found in the most ordinary (privileged) day: dancing with abandon, cuddling a baby, luxuriating in a hot shower. The self-consciousness, exhaustion and overwhelm that likely accompanied each of those moments is erased from their memories. What remains are the small joys, which upon reflection, turn out to be in fact not so small.
So why not find that happiness now? In this weekend’s mindfulness challenge, you’re going to connect to your future self. Set aside a few moments, find a quiet spot, take a seat and close your eyes. I’d actually advise that you do try this at home, because the lounge or coffee shop you usually hang out in will probably have people in it, and you might get a fair amount of side eye if they see you. Once your eyes are closed, bring to your mind something tough that you’re working through right now. Maybe you’ve got a cranky boss, you’re struggling with a certain class, or you have no idea where you even want to intern next summer, let alone who might take you. In the moment, this stuff feels awful. It feels like you’ll never get through it. But your future self knows you will, and also knows you’ll be way cooler as a result.
For just a few minutes, as you inhale deeply and exhale fully, picture the future version of you who’s made it through this. What do they have, what do they know, and what can they do as a result of making it through this challenging time? How grateful are they for the experience that you are having right now? As you breathe, let this perspective sink in. The challenge is temporary, but the growth is yours to keep.
Taking opportunities like this to check in on how we are reacting to the tough stuff will help ensure we don’t miss the little joys that are happening in the midst of it. If you’re going to be nostalgic for it later, you might as well soak up every second of it now. As it turns out, that’s all you’ll remember, anyway.
Photo credit: Ruma Sibai (Stocksnap)