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

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.

 

 

 

What’s Needed in these Uncertain Times? Maybe More Empathy…

hands in shape of love heart

In the fourth week of the Trump Administration, with the news changing so quickly every day, we are once again reminded that we need to stay grounded. I have been staying active in my community and riding most of the tumultuous waves by practicing the mindset of Maybe. But the deportation of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, who came to this country when she was a teenager and was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration officials during a routine check-in, shook me deeply. In addition to Maybe, I found myself needing another way to cope. I watched the live news coverage of Ms. Rayos sitting in a van with immigration officials waiting to be deported. Her two kids, husband, friends and immigrant-rights advocates tried to block the van from moving. As I sat on the couch with my two children by my side, watching the news, I could not stop crying. Immigrant-rights advocates have portrayed Ms. Rayos as a victim of President Trump’s sweeping new deportation orders. At the same time, her deportation has been viewed differently by others who have praised Trump’s immigration orders because Ms. Rayos had a felony conviction. That conviction stemmed from a 2008 work-site raid on employees at amusement parks, Ms. Rayos among them, who were working using false social security numbers.

The deportation of undocumented immigrants was not a policy originally created by the Trump administration. The Obama administration deported millions of undocumented immigrants over the last eight years. Donald Trump and his administration might be casting a wider net, deporting immigrants with no criminal records, but both administrations have supported the removal of people present in the United States illegally. In an effort to understand and process what’s been happening, I called a few friends who voted for Hilary Clinton and some who voted for Donald Trump about these immigration issues. The results have been interesting.

My friends who voted for Hilary Clinton were not totally aware that millions of people were deported during the Obama administration and all felt that Ms. Rayos should be allowed to stay in the country. My friends who voted for President Trump were under the impression that Obama did nothing to deport undocumented immigrants. Unanimously, my pro-Trump friends felt it was the Continue reading…

A Survival Guide For Uncertain Times Week #3: Give up Positive Thinking

American optimism and positive economic sentiment in the United States of America as a national government hope metaphor as a wiper clearing the gray dark wet clouds with 3D illustration elements.

It is the end of week three of Donald Trump’s presidential term, and this week my Survival Guide will address the pitfalls of positive thinking. I have spoken to many people who didn’t vote for Donald Trump and are now struggling with his daily tweets, executive orders and Cabinet appointments. I find that many of the people I spoke to are either completely negative about Trump’s Presidency or are trying to stay positive and failing miserably.

When you are completely comfortable with uncertainty, a positive outlook comes naturally. You are not rattled by new events or tweets and can sustain faith that life will work out one way or another. It doesn’t mean you are not concerned or active in your community, you just tend not to worry so much about the future. Most people, though, have some degree of fear of the unknown, and turn either to negative or to positive thinking to help themselves feel certain, while deep down they are really afraid. The problem is that the certainty we seek doesn’t exist. The more we try to lock into any perspective, the more pain and chaos we feel.

A person feeling negativity towards the Trump administration will feel pain most of the time because they are always projecting that whatever is occurring today cannot get better or that bad things are sure to happen in the future. The person Continue reading…