“Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.” – Thomas Edison
This week, I’ve been thinking about how many of us spend our present lives stuck in the future.
“When I make this much money, I’ll finally do x, y or z…”
“I’ll travel one day…”
“When my kids are older, that’s when I’ll really get to living…”
“I’ll vote in the next presidential election, but I won’t this November because it’s not as important…”
The list goes on and on.
Needless to say, I’ve certainly done a lot of that kind of projecting in my own life. But I was reminded this past week that our present is all we have.
We have today. That’s it. We don’t get to decide about tomorrow. So the question we should all be asking ourselves is, “What am I doing today with the time I have, right here, right now?”
Someone recently said to me, “Maria, you’re so alive and awake.” This was the first time anyone had said this to me, and I must say, at first I thought this was kind of an odd thing to say to me. But then I let the statement sink in. I sat with it for a while, and now, I own it. I celebrate it. And, I’m grateful for it.
Yes, you’re damn right I feel alive. You’re damn right that I’m awake in my own life. I haven’t always felt this way, but I do now, and thank God for that.
I want you to also feel alive and awake. So today, ask yourself: “Do I feel alive?” “Am I awake in my own life?”
If not, then ask yourself what’s keeping you from feeling that way. Ask yourself, “What really brings me joy? What inspires me? What energizes me, motivates me, and interests me? What gives me hope today to keep living for tomorrow?”
When you ask yourself these questions, I encourage you to notice the voice that you use in your head. If it’s anything like mine used to be, then your answers might be tough, critical or relentless. Try to silence that negativity.
Over time, I’ve come to understand that a critical, unrelenting voice (the kind that says “who do you think you are?”) isn’t actually helpful. In fact, far too often it’s not even your own voice that’s hurling those insults at you. It’s the voice of critics you’ve met along the way.
A critical, demeaning inner voice can make you feel depressed, unworthy and/or dead inside. It only serves to bring you down instead of lifting you up. So instead, find the voice that recognizes your goodness, your strength, your compassion, your grace, your courage, your intelligence, your worth, and your right to feel alive. It’s in you. It’s your God-given right.
Once I was able to tap into that inner voice myself, I found that it enabled me to heal myself. It also enabled me to be kinder and gentler to others. I know it can do the same for you.
Talking to my inner self with a compassionate voice hasn’t made me weaker in any way. In fact, it’s made me stronger and more determined than ever.
This past week, we remembered the 17th anniversary of September 11, 2001. Seventeen years ago, thousands of people went off to work and never came home. Their calendars were full. Their dreams, without a doubt, motivated their present.
When my son and I visited the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York a few months ago, we were both really struck by the recordings of the phone calls that people made in their final moments to their moms, their dads, and their families. Those phone calls did not express their fears. Instead, they expressed their love and their gratitude for those who they loved most in that moment.
Just yesterday when I sat at the funeral of my cousin Christopher — a man who was so looking forward to his future — I listened to his family and friends talk fondly about the life he had lived and the impact that he had. Hearing their words, I was struck by the abundance of love that these people felt for him. Many said that if they had just one wish, it would be that they could let him know, right then and there, how much he meant to them and how much he was loved. They all felt he would be surprised at the outpouring of love for him, and even more surprised by how many lives he had helped save in his work in the recovery movement.
So today, my friends, thank God that you are alive. Wake up, express love and gratitude to yourself, and then express gratitude to the others in your life who you love, too. If you don’t, then how do you expect them to know how you feel?
Call your kids or your parents and tell them you love them. Don’t wait to tell someone those three precious words. Do it today.
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