The present moment is filled with joy and happiness.
If you are attentive, you will see it.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Learning to live more mindfully, by which I mean living in the moment and paying attention to whatever is present, has led many people to achieve greater peace and happiness in their lives. This has been my experience as well. When I clear my chatterbox mind of thoughts about the past or future, I inevitably find that there is vibrant, meaningful life in the mere act of being alive and being present with whatever is before me. It is in the present moment, and only the present moment, that we hear distant birdsong, feel the wind on our faces, witness the magical unfolding of life in all of its glorious forms.
While I'm not inclined to spend a lot of time on regrets — that allows the past to steal the present moment — I have often wondered if my earlier life would have been different if I had known then what I know now, particularly with respect to the value of living mindfully. Of course, one can never know the answer to questions like this. Still, it's interesting to contemplate, as William Stafford does in this lovely poem.
by William Stafford
Next time what I'd do is look at
the earth before saying anything. I'd stop
just before going into a house
and be an emperor for a minute
and listen better to the wind
or to the air being still.
When anyone talked to me, whether
blame or praise or just passing time,
I'd watch the face, how the mouth
has to work, and see any strain, any
sign of what lifted the voice.
And for all, I'd know more—the earth
bracing itself and soaring, the air
finding every leaf and feather over
forest and water, and every person
the body glowing inside the clothes
like a light.