When This Moment is Enough

If you would prefer an audio version of this post, you can listen to Episode 5 of my podcast, When This Moment is Enough.

 

“The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy. Even while you have pain in your heart, you can enjoy the many wonders of life — the beautiful sunset, the smile of a child, the many flowers and trees. To suffer is not enough.” –Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh

It was November 3, 2014–the night before I was to launch my first book, The Gift of Maybe, at a Barnes and Noble bookstore in New York City—and I was a suffering.  My agent had called me a few weeks ago.  She is a lovely woman and has always been supportive, but what she told me on that call sent me into a tailspin. “Allison,” she said, “If you don’t sell 25,000 copies of this book, you’re not going to get a book deal for your second book.”  Now, my second book wasn’t even completed yet, and my first wasn’t officially launched. It had been a dream come true to publish with Penguin Random House. I had been able to change careers, leaving my first profession behind for one I truly loved—working with people to transform their professional and personal lives.

Initially what my agent said didn’t bother me, but the night before my book launch, I was in agony about the uncertainty of my own future as an author. With that one comment from my agent, I had started to feel the pressure and stress of having to sell 25,000 books to continue my journey.  Instead of reveling in the moment, I was beginning to obsess about what I did not have or what might not be.  What if my path was limited? What if the seemingly triumphant moment I was in was not enough?

I sat there trying to release the thought that I needed to sell 25,000 books to be successful, joyful or to continue my journey as a self-help author. It wasn’t working. So I took a few breaths and decided to see if I could take my own advice.  I cracked open my brand new book. After about twenty minutes of doing a Maybe exercise at the end of the first chapter, I was finally able to let the maddening thought about 25,000 books go. I now look back and laugh at the image of a self-help author desperately poring over her own book to make herself feel better!

The next day, I was able to enjoy the launch of The Gift of Maybe. Still, in the year after I published, the worry about how many books I’d sell and whether my second book would ever see the light of day returned to haunt me. It became such a familiar pain I even gave it a name –“second book suffering.”

If I appeared on a radio show and did not sell a lot of books in the days that followed, or if I failed to secure an appearance on a morning television show, my “second book suffering” reared its ugly head. The Maybe mindset always helped me get out of the trap, but so did embracing the idea: This moment is enough.

I simply got tired of the suffering and the inability to enjoy what I had and what I was experiencing.  So whenever I wrote a blog, spoke to a client, or appeared on the radio, I would choose to say to myself before the event, “This moment is enough.”  When I heard from someone that my book had helped him or her, I thought, “This moment is enough.”  I still work very hard each day, I have goals and dreams, and I am still working on that second book and hoping to see it published.  Yet, most of time, I am satisfied with what is happening in this moment and this makes my heart feel open and completely joyful.

One of the key reasons we all suffer is because we believe that this moment is not enough.  We might be dealing with a problem or working on a goal and we believe if we can just get through the issue or achieve our goal, then we will be able to rest, smile and enjoy the fruits of our labor.  But what if we could see that, in focusing so exclusively on that one thing that will bring us future happiness, we are actually creating suffering for ourselves? Regardless of what is happening in our lives, we always have an opportunity to transform our suffering and experience something wonderful in the moment.   So when you hear the phrase, “Let this moment be enough,” take a deep breath. You might find that you feel immediately relieved.

It is also possible, of course, that the idea of letting this moment be enough makes you feel nervous or agitated.  You might feel that you have so many dreams or goals in your life and you want more than this moment is offering you.  These thoughts are, paradoxically, the root of suffering.  It is truly life changing to let this moment be enough.  When you allow this moment to be enough, it doesn’t mean you stop working on what you want your life to be, it just means you are opening your heart to a more joyful life right now.

Here is an exercise to help you embrace this moment as enough.

1.  What is bothering you most at this time? What is most on your mind? Now ask yourself this: what are these thoughts stealing from your life?  There will always be things in the outside world that might not go as we planned or desired. There will always be something else to do or achieve.  We are always thinking we have another day so this day doesn’t have to be our best moment. We tend to believe the moment we’re in can be “sacrificed” for another time when things in our lives are better.  But what if that day never arrives?  What if we keep putting off everything and never enjoy what is in front of us all along?  And even when we achieve our goals, won’t there always be another goal or unexpected challenge and thus a new type of suffering in our lives?  Take a few moments and consider these questions. Imagine what you could gain if you weren’t worrying about your life beyond this moment.

2.  Now name your suffering. Do you have “career suffering,” “my child is doing poorly in school suffering,” or “I wish I could be happy with a husband or wife suffering”?  When you name your suffering, it has less of a hold on you.  It is as if, in naming it, you separate from your suffering on some level.  You start to see it is not reality, just a thought taking up space in your head.

3.  Recognize that if you persist in believing that this moment you are in is not enough, even if you are able to solve your problem or achieve the goal you are thinking about, the next day you will most likely have a new type of suffering. For example, I had a client who had “my child is doing poorly in school” suffering and she helped her son improve his grades. But now she has “I need my son to get into a good college suffering.”  I also had a client that had “I want a boyfriend suffering.”  She married a great guy and now she has “marriage suffering,” worrying about all the things that might go wrong in her relationship.

4.  Say to yourself, “This moment is enough.”  How does that make you feel? Say it again, “This moment is enough.”  Does it alleviate a burden inside of you?  Remember, you are not saying that you will stop pursuing your goals or dreams and you are not denying you have problems.  You are merely allowing this moment to be and making peace with it.  You are not struggling with what this moment brings. Now you can see its beauty and its depth, which is also the depth of everything that you are and everything around you.  Say it again, “This moment is enough.”  This moment being enough doesn’t mean all your pain will go away if you are struggling, but it does bring the joy of what is right in front of you to center stage.

It is such a relief to let this moment be enough.  We add so many unnecessary layers and complications onto our everyday lives. We place conditions on what needs to happen for us to be okay, or in order for us to finally be satisfied.  But when this moment is enough, our minds can rest and our breaths can calm. We can look around us and see the beauty of being alive. We can appreciate who we are and where we are.  We can enjoy what we have accomplished. We can enjoy the book launch, the sunrise, a cup of coffee or a conversation with a stranger.  Everything becomes important and sacred—a wonder to behold.

Don’t forget – life has Maybe and Maybe, it turns out, is a gift that allows us to create the future we want…without sacrificing today!

For weekly information on how to reduce stress and worry check out my podcast, 10 Minutes To Less Suffering, follow me on Twitter @giftofmaybe or Instagram, follow my Blog or check out my book The Gift of Maybe.

Originally Published in Psychology Today

Episode 3 – Letting Go of Regret

I can’t count the number of times a client has come into my office over the past 20 years reciting missed opportunities or wrong choices they made as the reason they are unhappy or not successful today. Sometimes their stories are about a business they didn’t start, a boyfriend or girlfriend they didn’t marry, or a class their child did not take.

Similar to my clients’ stories, most of us can easily think of a decision we regret.   Our regret makes us feel sure we missed out on an amazing opportunity or experience.  Regret makes us believe we’re not living our best life.  However, we can never truly know how a decision we didn’t make would have worked out.   Maybe that decision would have led us in a direction that would not have been beneficial for reasons we won’t ever know.  All we know is that here we are in this moment with the hope and possibility that Maybe we can have the life we want from this day forward.

In this episode of my 10-minute podcast, I discuss how regret can be a terrible source of suffering and how we can start to let it go and expand what is possible. The more you do the exercise in the podcast, you will begin to find more peace and freedom to envision and pursue a new future. It’s so powerful not to be hijacked by the past and be in the moment with a clean slate.

For all we know, Maybe the best is yet to come!

Click here to listen to the podcast.

 

Introducing My New Podcast: 10 Minutes To Less Suffering

Last week I launched my new podcast, 10 Minutes To Less Suffering. In the first episode, I discuss why most of us are addicted to certainty. Many of us believe that if we knew what would happen next in our lives we would feel safe and secure. But the truth is we can’t know the future, and when we feel uncertain we often stress and worry that things will be bad or not work out the way we want. In this podcast, I share simple techniques to help you overcome your fear of the unknown and find more hope and possibility in your daily life.

My plan is to release three episodes a month. If you like the episode, please leave a review on ITunes where you can also subscribe directly to the podcast. If you have any questions or feedback, or there is a topic you would like me to discuss in future episodes, please leave a comment below.  The podcast is just 10 minutes and MAYBE it changes everything! Please click here to listen.

 

 

 

Is Your Child More Anxious and Worried Since the Election?

During the election season, many of our children experienced a tremendous amount of stress and worry about who would win the Presidency.  It became especially apparent to me the night of the election. My daughters had invited a bunch of friends over to watch the election results.  As it became more clear from the news that Donald Trump might win, my younger daughter and her friends, who are all about 14 years old, looked at me with tears in their eyes and asked, “Allison, are we going to die?”

I was certainly not happy that Donald Trump might become President, but I wondered why they were reacting so acutely to the news.  “Why do you think that?” I asked. One after the other, they gave me their reasons why.  One child said, “My mom said if Donald Trump wins we will all be doomed.” Another girl said, “My dad said Donald Trump is incompetent and can’t run this country.” My daughter said, “Mom, I heard you ask dad ‘Do you want Donald Trump’s finger on the button?” I realized at that moment that a key reason they were so upset was because of the conversations many of us were having in front of our children about Donald Trump becoming President.  Interestingly, some of my friends who voted for Donald Trump also admitted to having had very little filter when they were having conversations about Hilary Clinton in front of their children.

As I looked at the fearful faces of these young girls, all I could do was imagine how worried and anxiety-ridden I would be if I were a 14-year-old child hearing from my parents that the world was not safe if a particular person became President. With much less life experience, our children view these comments as Continue reading…