THE SLG ADVISOR
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Twin Thieves of Today
Recently there has been much written about the benefits of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of bringing one’s attention to whatever is happening in the present moment. I have read a few books on the subject but confess the topic has not held my attention to the degree necessary to become a practitioner. But one thing I did realize while pondering the concept of truly living in the moment is how difficult it is to do well. So many things in our busy lives prevent us from fully appreciating the present moment. Two of the most damaging emotions that make enjoying the present so difficult are regret and fear. Some people have such deep regret over things they have done or failed to do that they become incapable of enjoying today. For these people, the past hangs over them like a dark rain cloud and they are consumed with negativity. Then there are others who fret constantly over what the future holds. Young people worrying needlessly over what their future careers will hold. Older people consumed with fear and anxiety over whether they will ever be able to retire comfortably or will be forced to work well into old age to survive. Now I’m not saying that regret and fear are not normal emotions that we all experience at some points in our lives; they most certainly are. What I am arguing against is allowing these twin thieves to rob from us the only thing that’s real and guaranteed: the moment we are currently experiencing. As you read this newsletter, is there any guarantee that you’ll be around to read next month’s (or that I’ll be around to write it)? Nope, there isn’t. You are in the moment and once you finish reading this newsletter, the time you took to read it is gone forever. I know what you are thinking “Len, you’ve lost your mind, you’re getting too deep”. But what I say is true, the past is done, its only purpose is to educate us on how to better navigate the present and to teach us useful lessons. The future needs to be appropriately planned for so that when it arrives we can enjoy the present to the fullest. But the future is unknown and unpredictable, so once we properly plan for it, it’s time to get back to living and enjoying the life you have. Further worry is useless and detrimental to our peace of mind. In my own life, I recognize that I have a few regrets that have robbed me of peace of mind. Regrets too personal to discuss in a monthly newsletter but suffice it to say that I am aware of moments I wasted thinking about what could’ve or should’ve been. Are You Haunted by Regret and Fear?
Two of the most damaging emotions that make enjoying the present so difficult are regret and fear.
Fear is also an emotion that, on occasion, has consumed me and robbed me of peace. Anyone who has children knows the worry that can exist over how the future will unfold for them. Will our kids remain safe at college, while driving, etc.? Will they stay healthy, find good friends, a good life partner, be happy? All worries over things that, for the most part, we have little control over. Yet still we worry. I will be 55 this month and with age comes some perspective. I’ve come to grips with my regrets and try hard to extract the lessons my mistakes contain. As for fear, I still worry excessively about my kids’ well-being and, to a lesser degree, myself getting old, but I’m getting better. As my kids would say, I’m learning to “chill” more. I leave you with a few lines from a poem by Robert Hastings: “It isn’t the burden of today that drive men mad. Rather it is regret over yesterday or fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today.” Enjoy the moments as they come, and be aware of the thieves that haunt us all, if we let them. -Len Spada
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