"What hunger is in relation to food, zest is in relation to life," says Russel.
Russel believed that life could never be boring to a person who's cultivated the habit of zest - someeone who lives with attentive curiosity to the details of life. As a result, Russel believed that a common denominator among all happy people is "living with zest."
You know you're living with the habit of zest if you purposefully choose the scenic route to wherever you are going. Or you choose clothing because you love the texture of the fabric. Or you pick a shampoo or cleaning product because you love the smell – smell being just as important to you as how the product works. Or, you're likely to notice the interesting shadows a vase makes on a table – or how clouds are shaped like a heart or a horse. Or you notice the music in restaurants – sometimes commenting on it to people. Or you notice people’s voices – if they have warm voices or interesting accents – which then makes you curious about what their voice might mean about them ! Or, you're the kind of person who - if ever you were called to a police line up - you'd be able to recognize some of the strangers’ faces you see around you during a day – like the people waiting in line with you for coffee, or the face of your waitress at lunch.
All of this reminds me of what Nobel Prize winning scientist Daniel Kahneman shares. Kahenman says that we all experience about 20,000 individual "moments" in a day. According to Kahneman, each of these individual "moments" lasts a mere few seconds. When you're fully present - being mindfully in the now - you're able to appreciate more of these "moments" in time - instead of letting them become a blur in time. What Khaneman calls "mindfulness" is in many ways what Russel considers "zestfulness." In both cases, when you're able to live mindfully/zestfully in the now, you're not being tempted to get sidetracked by regrets about the past or worries about the future - meaning you're increasing your joy in the present!Personally, I believe people who have a lots of memories are people who are living with zest. After all, when you have a memory it's because you're taking the time to appreciate being in the "now" - because this is the only way you can notice the details around you - if you are fully in the now. And in this time which you take to stop and be in the now - to zestfully smell the flowers - or zestfully stare at that stranger's interesting face - or zestfully appreciate the taste/smell/colors of a magnificent meal - you are freeze-framing this moment for your memory's photo album, instead of allowing it to simply blur on by you. For these reasons I also believe that the less memories you have in your life, the more likely you are to be speed-forwarding through each moment - not living in the now which is the opposite of living with zest!
IN SUMMARY: If you want to love your life more - you can begin by living and loving more of it - by zestfully living and loving every teeny-tiny, gorgeously-detailed minutiae moment!
YOUR ASSIGNMENT: Cultivate the habit of zest. Purposefully seek out the beauty in the seemingly trivial. Especially in the trivial. The colors and shapes of the foods you eat. The shadows a vase makes on your table. The interesting faces of the people on the bus with you. You will not only experience more happiness on a daily basis, but a month from now you will be able to look back and have more happy memories to appreciate.
Karen Salmansohn is a best selling author with over 1 million books sold and an Oprah columnist. Some best selling titles you might know: THE BOUNCE BACK BOOK, HOW TO BE HAPPY DAMMIT, ENOUGH DAMMIT, and BALLSY: EXTREME SUCCESS TIPS. For more happiness tips, check out her site www.notsalmon.com - and sign up for her famous and free Be Happy Dammit newsletter. You'll instantly get a free chunkette of her BOUNCE BACK BOOK (praised by Tony Robbins) and you'll join a crowd of about 20,000 happiness newsletter members!
Live in the moment. It sounds simple enough but we as human beings have an incredibly difficult time enjoying the moment. Why is that? I believe we tend to spend so much time replaying past moments or planning too much for the future, that we miss out on the great moments that are unveiling right before use. So often we fail to stop and smell the roses. We don’t take the time to enjoy the present moment. This is sad because we have no idea how many more moments we will be fortunate to experience.Live in the moment. It sounds simple enough but we as human beings have an incredibly difficult time enjoying the moment. Why is that? I believe we tend to spend so much time replaying past moments or planning too much for the future, that we miss out on the great moments that are unveiling right before use. So often we fail to stop and smell the roses. We don’t take the time to enjoy the present moment. This is sad because we have no idea how many more moments we will be fortunate to experience.
I am not proposing that we should spend less time planning. That would be misguided advice. Goal setting is important for us if we desire a contentment in our personal and professional lives. Setting achievable goals and taking the steps to accomplish them is a powerful way to cultivate personal responsibility. Implementing this kind of goal-setting provides meaning in our lives because we exude dedication, a strong work ethic, and often perseverance in attainment of these goals.
I believe our society has become a society so enamored with planning. There is often way too much talk of building for the future but what about building for the now? We all desire genuine happiness, and in order to manifest this joy we have to live presently. Too much focus on the future often leads to stress and negative thinking.
Why should you be focused on living in the moment, rather than planning too much for the future?
1. The present moment is the only moment you have control over right now
No matter how much you plan you never know for sure how life is going to play out. The only time you will know is when you are in that moment. The moment you experience right now is the only moment you can control. You can choose to enjoy the moment or you can choose to loathe the moment. You can also choose to ignore the moment completely and waste it away, but either way, the present moment is yours to control. Planning isn’t going to take you out of the present. It might help you accomplish your goals but it is not going to improve your quality of life for the present moment. Planning isn’t going to guarantee you a desired outcome for the future so why not accept what you can control now?
2. Each moment is a gift
There is no guarantee on the number of moments you will get to experience. This is extremely important to realize. No one knows when the next moment of their life is going to be taken away from them. Your next moment is not guaranteed, so why not take advantage of the one you are in? You can’t live with this unique perspective if you are constantly planning for the next stage of your life. You can only experience this zest for life if you are living in the present moment. It may even sound corny and unrealistic, but it makes perfect sense. Don’t take moments for granted. Plan when it is necessary but not at the expense of you enjoying the present moment. As the old cliche states that life is short, so you enjoy it while you can.
3. Being present is a great stress reducer
Thinking too much about the future, and the past, are often causes of stress. Even though some stress can be beneficial, the stress caused from not living in the moment can be detrimental to one’s mental, physical, and emotional health. Overplanning can lead to unneccessary stress when the planning prevents you from living in the moment. Invigorate your life with present living strategies that will enable you to stay more focused on each moment.
You probably don’t have the luxury of meditating five hours a day and not setting some type of plan for your future, but implementing small changes into your life should help reduce stress. Observe when your mind begins to focus on the future instead of the present moment you are experiencing. Ask yourself if this thought process is necessary. Simple awareness and recognition of your thoughts will assist you in being more present.
4. Plans often don’t manifest themselves the way you want or expect
This is a reality whether you want to believe it or not. How many times have you tried planning something but it just didn’t work out the way you want? How did you react? Did you get upset or did you handle the situation with acceptance and understanding? Plans fail. As a member of a flawed species, you fail often. It is a part of life. Attempting to plan for every step of your life is not only impossible but it is probably not healthy for you. The more you plan, the more likely you are to become irritated or upset when those plans don’t come into fruition.
I am not suggesting you shouldn’t plan with the attitude that the plan will fail, but I am proposing that you let life play its course and just be. Go ahead and make plans if that is helpful for you but don’t lose sight of the present moment. If your plans don’t work out the way you want, then at least try to accept it.
5. Living in the present will make you happier
I don’t like to throw the phrase “make you happier” around too often because nothing makes you happy but yourself. In saying that, living in the present is one of the sure fire methods you can adopt in order to manifest genuine happiness in your life. Without delving into the all the data and research that is available, it is being discovered that present living is one of the most influential keys to well-being. Too much long-term planning is going to prevent you from enjoying the beauty of now. Don’t impede yourself from experiencing contentment. Practice living presently, and observe how it makes you feel. Plan when you need to but don’t lose sight of what is currently happening.
Find a balance between living in the moment and planning. You are only going to be able to control the moment you have right now. The moment you have right now is a gift. Enjoy less stress by relishing the moment. Understand that plans don’t always turn out as expected. Accept the present for what it is and be happy. Plan as you feel it necessary. Save money for a family and house. Invest in yourself. Set goals for yourself and realize them. That is what you are supposed to do. In this pursuit of planning don’t forget about where you are in the present.
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