You probably can’t count the number of times you’ve heard something like, “soak up this moment”, “live in the present” or “yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift – that’s why it’s called the present.” I’ve got a Pinterest board of quotes that could win awards, but even I just rolled my eyes.
In everyday life, it’s hard to be fully invested in each moment. During a shower 8 months ago, I came up with the name for this business. As I am writing this, I am eyeing my phone to see if my client calls me back. When I make dinner later, I will probably also be listening to music.
If I had only cared about how effective my shampooing was, lord only knows what would be printed on my business cards today. My point is, being present in a moment also means being open to that moment’s potential. This is not an excuse for an expectant father to nap through birth. It’s a reminder for him to be more worried about having a cold cloth waiting for his wife’s forehead and less worried about whether the flash is on his cellphone camera.
I think as we get older, we are tempted to shout these cheesy quotes from the rooftop because we feel like at some time, we didn’t appreciate a moment in real time for what it is worth to us now. For the record, I am really glad that at 10 years old I was just worried about how high I could jump on my best friend’s trampoline for the sake of beating yesterday’s height. Imagine the mood kill if my best friend’s mom had interrupted us to be like “okay kids – really soak up how free you feel right now, because one day you’re going to have to file taxes, remember which day the trash guy comes and learn to fix a garbage disposal.”
It's like we tell ourselves to “be present” in an effort to avoid some future regret. That sentence is not supposed to make sense, because preventing a future regret is impossible.
If you want an example of someone who is – if nothing else – present, I direct you to Tom Brady. I was raised by two older brothers, so I am surprised it took this long to mention sports. Tom Brady retired last week from a 22-year career in the NFL. When my best friend John and I were jumping on his trampoline at 10 years old, Tom was already six years into his career. And for context, John and I have both been paying taxes for a while, Tuesday is trash day, and the special garbage disposal Allen wrench is on aisle 12 at my local Ace Hardware.
In his retirement statement, Tom wasn’t hemming and hawing about things he didn’t do in his career. His final game wasn’t his eighth Super Bowl victory, and we will all still remember him as the greatest football player of our generation. He didn’t walk away with regret, instead he talked about what he looks forward to in the future. Tom Brady made the most out of his NFL moments by keeping his eyes up for an open receiver to make a game-winning pass, working out hard and eating well to stay in shape, and knowing when it was time to walk away.
Take a page from Tom Brady’s book and be open to what each moment can bring you. Reminder: you don’t get the most out of a moment by being hyper-focused on the task at hand.