Life advice should be simple.
And mostly, it should easily integrated into our lives. It should help us live happier. Or healthier. It should even show us how to become more meaningful versions of ourselves.
But what do we do with the life lessons we get in our lives?
I’ll tell you a short story about life advice I wish I had heard (and integrated) into my life 20 years ago.
This summer, I had to make the decision to put down my dog, Bear, who was about to turn 18. I could feel the unthinkable moment coming as his health deteriorated. I could feel the sadness and grief and memories of my adult companion slipping away as each day moved closer to his end.
The day I took him to the vet was the day I tried to stop time. I wanted to extend every last precious moment with him. I wanted to love him. I wanted to thank him. Kiss him. Run with him. Play with him. I thought about how many times in the past I let the present moment slip away with him; the days I yelled at him, the days I was moody and didn’t give him a chance to be happy in nature because I was too busy worrying about the peripheral things in my life.
Not being fully present in all the previous moments I had with my dog felt heavy and horrible and terrible as I watched his lungs fight for their last breaths. But I couldn’t go back. I couldn’t rewrite time. I couldn’t make him live forever. I couldn’t find a magical cure.
His suffering had to end, and I had to witness the end of it.
The Moments We Have Left
I miss Bear.
I miss the moments we had together.
Do you know how many more moments you have with your loved ones? Do you know how many more moments you have to do and be what you truly care about doing and being?
The sad truth is, you don’t.
I don’t. We don’t. The time we feel we have left is a fantasy created by our egos. Our egos don’t want to confront the fear of death or the end of things as we know it. They pressure us to be more or become something more or do something more, and they rob us of our ability to make more meaningful moments with the things that truly matter.
I wish someone had told me, “Trevor, stop waiting to be present in love. Stop waiting to here — in the now — fully and completely with whatever and whoever you are choosing to spend time with. Just love. Love this moment, even if it’s hard or sucky or challenging or confusing. Being present in what is happening is all that truly matters. This is how you should define the success of your life.”
The people, the hobbies, the pets, the family, the children, the passions, the jobs —can be over when you least want them to be. And don’t be like me, trying to extend time for a little longer with the things you didn’t realize brought you so much joy.
How to Stop Waiting
How do you stop waiting to live fully?
Admit the truth. Admit you only have so many meaningful human experiences and moments left in this life. Admit time is relative to the quality of your time, not the quantity.
Why do we wait to enjoy holidays with the family? Why do we wait to share moments with our friends, kids, grandparents, pets, and parents? What if we could count how many more times we have on one hand to watch our children believe in Santa? What if this is our last Thanksgiving or visit home with our grandparents or parents?
If you stop waiting to be fully present with the moments we have left with the things and people we love, your lives will naturally improve.
I hear parents complain about their kids going to high school and growing up. Why? You have less than 1440 minutes a day to enjoy your teenagers as they attend prom, watch them play their sports, do their theatre, art, music, or dress up for the homecoming dance. You only have one chance to see them walk into kindergarten for their first day. If you have a senior, you might have one chance to share a family vacation with your child before they attempt adulthood.
This is why we need to reframe time into the moments we have left.
The life advice I wished I had heard 20 years ago was this: “Don’t think about life in years. Think about it in moments. How many more moments do I have left with the people and things I love?”
Waiting to Live Is On You
Being present is your responsibility. It’s what creates a more meaningful human experience.
- Show up for the moments with friends, partners, kids, passions, hobbies, friends, family, and pets.
- Be present with them. Make each moment better by letting go of the worries of the future or past.
- Be accountable to your health, fitness, and mental health the best you can every day.
- Extend time through engaging in connection, love, and positive interactions with the things and people that truly matter to you.
- Stop b*tching and moaning about the small things that rob you of presence — the politics, the drama, the gossip, the trolling, and the small worries that steal your attention.
How to Be Present
Avoiding the moment is a self-defense mechanism of the ego. None of us want to admit our lives and experiences and those we care about are finite. None of us want to admit death is possible. None of us want to face our fears of mortality and loss.
But the truth is our human bodies and those we care about turn to dirt or dust. Our bodies, health, and mental capacity diminish over time. There’s an unknown amount of time we have left to make this human experience what we want it to be. I wish I could go back and be more present with Bear earlier in his life. I wish I could love him one last time, cuddle him one last time, and throw a stick for him one last time.
But I can’t.
I let those moments slip away, and that’s on me. I was often too busy living in my own head, escaping the present, and trying to be something I thought society wanted me to be.
When you stop waiting to live fully, you do the best you can with the moments you have left.
What else can you do?
Be here reading this fully. Be here with your pet, fully. Be here with your children, fully. Just be here to witness (and enjoy) the happening of life’s moments.
Start being present in what you love to do. Be here, in the now. Challenge your mind to focus on whatever you feel resistance to showing up for and you’ll get better at engaging in the happening of life.
Can You Be What Moves You?
Most people bail on living in authenticity because they exist in a dream state or escape their lives through modern technology, addiction, or work.
How does one live present in authenticity?
Watch your inner dialogue. Where does your mind take you while life happens? What is your ego saying? Is it tough on you? Does it have you pretend-living in the future or the past? Does it remove you from the moment?
Our egos (and that monkey mind voice) try to keep us safe by diminishing the risks that make us feel vulnerable, but it’s not time to keep our egos safe. It’s time to stop waiting. It’s time to be fully present and take responsibility for living a meaningful life.
NOW, NOW, NOW — this is always the time to show up for yourself.
What helps you show up for yourself?
Follow your curiosity. Follow the feelings and emotions that create a happier, healthier you. Sit in the woods. Walk in nature. Do morning pages or journal every morning. Daydream about the things you always wanted to do or be in your childhood life. Imagine life without the things you love. How would that affect you? How would that make you feel? What whispers do you hear? What ideas and things won’t let go of your attention?
Start there. Start small. Take a micro-step toward being present in what whispers to you. If you live authentically, you’ve already succeeded. If you’ve already succeeded, what else is there but to be here in the moment, enjoying your authenticity?
This is the advice I wish I had learned 20 years ago.
Stop waiting to be here.
Be present in the moments you have left with the things you love most. Stop giving a f*ck about the world validating you and engage with the people, hobbies, kids, parents, ideas, grandparents, friends, family, things, pets, and souls you love to spend time doing and being with.
No one worth caring about cares if you stop waiting to be here, not even your ego.
Good luck out there,