Are you a worrier? Do you often dwell on what happened yesterday, worried how it will play out? Do you worry about stuff that hasn’t happened, stressing about the countless ways things could go wrong?
If so, you are not alone. Chronic worry could be an Olympic sport these days, and I’m convinced a few of us might be Michael Phelps or Simone Biles material.
It’s so easy to let our minds wander. We are so worried about the future that we completely miss what is happening in the here and now. We spend so much time living in the uncertainty of what if that we completely miss the what is.
Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh, writes, “We cannot enjoy life if we spend a lot of time worrying about what happened yesterday and what will happen tomorrow. We worry about tomorrow because we are afraid. And if we are afraid all the time, we cannot appreciate that we are alive and can be happy now.”
Oh y’all, that’s good. And deep. It’s also slightly uncomfortable to know that our chronic worry keeps us from being fully alive and happy.
The good news? We can totally change the way we think. As I’ve said before, we are not stuck with the way our brain works. We are not doomed to worry and a life of missing out on true happiness. Instead, every time our brain wanders, we can redirect our attention back to the present moment with a simple sentence:
Today is where I am. I use this sentence frequently, as my brain has a tendency to wander to the future and all it’s uncertainty.
You’re worried about a big meeting you have coming up. What if it doesn’t go well? Today is where I am.
You’re worried how your child will do next year as they transition schools. Change is hard for them. Today is where I am.
You’re worried about the argument you had with your partner last night; it’s hard to focus at work. Today is where I am.
By constantly repeating this phrase, we are redirecting our attention back to the here and now. Think of this as a way to corral your thoughts, as if you’re saying, “No no thoughts, not there. Come back to today.” This motion, repeated over and over, strengthens your ability to focus your attention on today. Not tomorrow, not yesterday, but today. And when you can be fully present today, your ability to be alive and happy skyrockets.
If you are a worrier, this focus on today may not be your default, but it can be practiced and learned. Today is where I am. Today is where is I am.
Today is where I am.
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