I attended a great workshop last week on Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction. The idea behind mindfulness is to be fully aware in the moment, in the present. We can’t be present if we’re focused on the past or future. One of the many things I took away with me from the workshop was a great way to make this more effective: Don’t Anticipate, Don’t Ruminate.

If we anticipate, we’re looking ahead, not paying attention to the now. It may create happy feelings, if we expect that what we’re anticipating will be positive, but it’s still not here yet and occupies a lot of space in the now. And if it doesn’t turn out as we’re expecting, we’re disappointed. If we’re expecting it to be stressful or sad or frustrating, feelings associated with that will be getting in the way of now and our potential to feel good now. Worry is definite killer of contentment and happiness.

If we ruminate, we’re rehashing old stuff. It’s the past and can’t be changed regardless of how much we wish it had gone differently. Even if we’re revisiting positive memories, that focus keeps us from being in the present and from experiencing joy from what’s happening now.

Don’t anticipate, don’t ruminate. A great mantra for staying in the present.

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