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Practical Happiness Tips: Are We There Yet?

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One day many years ago when our kids were young we finished packing the car, loaded the  kids and soon eased onto the freeway to start an 8-hr drive from Los Angeles, CA  to Yosemite Park for our vacation. Happiness was in store.

Less than one hour into the trip one of the kids started.

“Are we there yet?”

Children aren’t the only ones who are impatient to arrive at a destination. Most of us are so busy anticipating an arrival at a destination or completion of a goal that our minds seem to be absorbed with what we will do and how happy we will be at some future date.

There’s one big problem with this type of thinking, however.

It’s summed up in the joke, “Tomorrow never arrives, because when it gets here it’s today.”

Missing the present.

Here’s another example of missing the present from my book, Color Your Life Happy.

We recently attended the retirement ceremony of
one of my nephews, who served twenty years in the Navy. While enjoying
the delicious food and hospitality on his patio, I asked my daughter,
“How do we get to the freeway from here?” The reception had barely
begun and I had already raced to the future, thinking about our route
home.

Fortunately, my daughter chided me: “Mom, be here and now.”

I snapped back and engaged in conversation and enjoyed the beauty of my
surroundings.

Are we here yet?

Then there’s the other phenomenon of being physically present but not fully present such as in the cartoon above.

It reminds me of my recent first-time experience of a live baseball game.

While attending my oldest grandson’s graduation from Air Force bootcamp we went to a baseball game. I was looking forward to experiencing the game in the open air, watching the action and maybe even eating hot dogs.

What I discovered, however, that the baseball game on the field was the least of what was happening. My grandkids were listening to music on their iPods or playing word games on their Blackberries,  the groups all over the stadium were chattering throughout the whole game, and at frequent intervals there were contests, a webcam zeroing in an unsuspecting couple in the stands, advertisements on the screen and even one advertiser rolling on the field in a cart shooting rolled up t-shirts into the stands.

I caught one.

My goodness!

Occasionally a baseball game was in progress.

Continuing to look ahead or multitask is like spending our entire lives blindfolded or our hands over our ears blocking out the sound or swallowing a  piece of chocolate without it ever touching your tastebuds.

We are missing out on here and now.

And what a loss it is.

I can still remember

  • the awesome feeling of seeing palm trees lining the streets of Los Angeles when I was a new California resident
  • the joy of watching the ground slowly loom closer over London as the plane was landing for my first trip to Europe
  • the huge shot of love in that tiny pillowy palm of my first baby

Wouldn’t it have been a shame to miss these when I was there?  These precious memories always bring me joy, warmth, a smile. They sustain happiness.

Look around you.

What is going on today that you can observe, absorb and enjoy while you are here and now?

More important than the question “Are we there yet?’ is “Are you here now?”

Well, are you?

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