From Escaping Your Life to Relishing Your Life: How to Live In the Now

Q: Do you know how old I’ll be by the time I learn to play the piano [or insert dream, passion, hobby]?
A: The same age you will be if you don’t.

Do you find yourself anxiously wishing the workday was over so you can just take a nice, hot shower, eat a warm meal, and then fall asleep in your fluffy, comfortable bed?

Do you count down the time until your lunch hour, then to find it passed by all too quickly, just to count down again to when it’s 5 p.m. so you can jet on out of the office?

Do you meticulously plan every single detail of your upcoming vacation that’s 6 months away, because you’re so looking forward to escaping your current life right now?

Rather than finding a way to escape your life, time and time again, why not change your current life situation so that you can relish every single waking moment of it?

But, you may be wondering, “Who is this Nina girl, talking all these daring, bold and grandiose notions of changing my current life situation? She doesn’t know that I have bills to pay, a monthly mortgage, mouths to feed. Ha!”

To that, I say, “I DARE you to change your current situation. ESPECIALLY if you are unhappy doing what you are currently doing.”

I do not write what I do not practice. I don’t read blogs of other people who write about being a good writer but reading their writing shows me they’re a horrible writer. (Try saying that 10 times fast.) I wouldn’t expect you to do the same for me.

If I’m not a minimalist but write about living a minimalist lifestyle, shame on me. If I write about creating your own personal freedom but still chain myself to a corporate structure, double shame. That would make me a living hypocrite, and no one likes hypocrites.

But it’s beyond you liking me, or liking my messages, or even liking the way I write.

It’s way, way beyond that.

I am here to change the world through a minimalist revolution and to inspire positive change in people’s lives.

But I don’t prance around announcing this to every passerby, loudly and obnoxiously advocating to throw your stuff away! live a minimalist life! you’re all going to consumerist hell!

Last time I checked, I wasn’t an evangelist. What I am, though, is a minimalist freedom fighter.

And I can’t help you if you don’t want to help yourself.

Do you want to always escape your life or do you want to always relish your life?

If you want the latter, wonderful. Here are 3 simple tips on how you can live in the now. I’m living in the now and it works far better than living in the past or living in the future.

How You Can Live In the Now

1. Create the climate where you are living and breathing your passion.

This is no easy task, I completely understand. It will take many months, if not years, to create your ideal climate.

Let me clarify, however: It’s not some utopia-esque fantasy we’re after, complete with soft, white bunnies hopping playfully in a wild sunflower field.

It’s the process of changing who we are as a person that is the most exciting. That is the reward itself.

Change is very hard. It’s much simpler to just accept things as they were and to not try and ruffle any feathers, to not change one’s schedule, or to interfere with one’s 5-year plan.

To this, I say: ruffle those feathers! pluck them straight out! change your schedule by overhauling it! rip your 5-year plan to pieces!

Your life is happening right now and it’s passing by you every second of your life.

Rather than focusing on the end result of your current path in life, which is a deferred-life plan whereby you enjoy life after you retire, focus on the process (like how I wrote my first 50,000-word novel in 18 days). The journey which is life itself.

That is the beauty of life. May we never forget that.

So, in order to create the climate in which you are enjoying yourself every single day, you need to be making changes to get you to where you need to be in order to be happy and free.

Some suggestions:

  • Eliminating all your stuff except for basic essentials and the things you need to do the work you love.
  • Taking that dream vacation of yours now rather than saving it for next year. Remember, next year is no guarantee. Don’t save the best for last. You might not be here to enjoy it.
  • Implement the A.C.E. method, which is Automation, Concentration and Elimination, so you can design your ultimate lifestyle.
  • Watch this video, laugh, cry and be inspired.

2. Appreciate the simple things in life.

This is where you cultivate the attitude of gratitude.

It’s not enough to say, “Oh, I already know I’m thankful for this and that.”

Actions speak louder, dammit.

If you truly appreciate the simple things in life, and by simple, I mean smelling the fresh flowers that just bloomed in your backyard garden, looking up at the infinite night sky to see the bright stars shine galaxies away from us, gazing into the eyes of your loved ones and quietly enjoying their company with words unspoken, cooking fresh food and eating mindfully and slowly, and walking in nature’s playground which is the world, you would know what I’m talking about.

You could say, then, that you are just thankful to have a job during this economic season, never mind you don’t really like it to begin with.

The attitude of gratitude does not apply to being thankful for something in which it actually makes you more miserable. Realize the difference. Rather, you should be outraged at a life of talent and abilities wasted. I know I was. So outraged that I had to change my life. And so I did just that.

You have immense gifts within yourself, if you only allowed your inner creative self to be free. Learn to let go. Free yourself.

I want you to be free. Do you want this for yourself?

3. Remember: Perfectionism is poisonous.

Leo Babauta says you’re already perfect. What he means is stop striving for the perfection which you will never achieve. Life is perfect the way it is, with its ‘flaws’ and all. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Though we all want a better world for ourselves, always needing to have everything perfect before we do anything (the perfect blog post before we hit publish, meticulously poured upon and quadruple checked, or the perfect work proposal you just have to get right immediately on the first try), this behavior can lead to destructive patterns in our lives.

If I aimed to paint the perfect painting every time I pick up my paintbrush, my head will be spinning with all the “Oh geez, well, I can’t put that color there because that might just ruin everything” thoughts and what if’s.

When my art teacher and friend Dagmar senses any hesitation on my end, she tells me, “No fears, Nina.” And she is so utterly correct. No fears. Art is beautiful. Even when it looks like a mistake was made, it actually turns out to be a natural part of the artwork.

In life, even when it looks like there was a mistake or failed attempt at something, it actually turns out to be a natural part of life.

Perfectionism and continually striving towards it will leave you empty-handed and always let down. Instead, learn to let go and trust that your work – and life – need not be perfect. You will be okay.

Yesterday Is Gone and Tomorrow Is Not Even Here

Don’t escape your life. Relish every single moment of it, the bad (it will make you stronger) and the good (it will help you appreciate such moments), knowing full well that your life can come to an end suddenly and all-too-soon.

Death may seem like it’s on my mind lately (more accurately, it’s life that’s on my mind) and I keep telling you that your life ought to be one with no regrets, now or never. Some find it hard to swallow and believe it to be too drastic, overly dramatic, too outlandish, too radical-sounding.

Think that’s radical? I wrote an entire ebook called The Radical Minimalist. Yes, I am a radical minimalist but that’s besides the point.

Why is this such an imperative that you understand living in the now is the only way to realize the present, the only thing we truly have? It’s because yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not even here. Experience life yourself.

All we have is now. Live now. Live fully and live presently.

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