MINDFULNESS: Don’t Worry About the Future

By Sally Tippett Rains

ELECTION SPECIAL: We’ve been focusing on the 15 keys to a happy life as featured in the chapters of my book Choose Happy; Find Contentment in Any Situation. As often happens in life, a wonderful coincidence puts us at number twelve which s “Mindfulness—don’t worry about the future” on a week when nearly everyone is worried about the future.

Here is a good explanation of Mindfulness: “Mindfulness means accepting your life (at that moment.) You are not critical when you are being mindful. You do not judge or even make decisions. Mindfulness is about opening yourself up to the many paths available in life and viewing all the different choices dispassionately.”

Photo by Allen Ahner, reprinted from “Choose Happy; Find Contentment in Any Situation”

2020 has been a year for the books—and many want to throw that book into the paper shredder. After a particularly bad game back in 2012, Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright blamed his loss on “a perfect storm of horribleness.”

I always remembered that phrase and it about sums up what some people think of this year as they face medical or financial situations, or we prepare to cast our votes in the midst of a global pandemic. Many are voting “against” something rather than “for” something or someone. Many are hoping things “won’t” happen rather than being open to the possibility that it might work out.

No matter how loud it gets for whatever situation is bothering you the most— the doctors, the “know-it-alls,” television commentators, your Twitter or Facebook “friends,” your friends or family members—remember the old bath oil commercial, “Calgon take me away!” That ad campaign was talking about mindfulness; being swept away from the madness of the world to the peacefulness of a warm bubble bath.

Now as most moms know, if you have kids, there are no peaceful, relaxing baths– there is banging on the door and loud fighting going on in the next room while you are trying to relax– and that’s if you locked the door. That’s why it’s so important to teach ourselves ways to calm down and relax– even in the midst of chaos.

You will have a better life if you take the time out to clear your mind, and relax. “But I can’t relax– I’m so upset about the election!” So you keep on watching the news and scrolling the Twitter.

No. You need to take care of yourself; be mindful. All that stuff will be there later, but will you? Turn on some peaceful music—you can put “Spa” or “Relaxation” music into the subject line on You Tube or use any music app you may have. We need to remove ourselves from the hectic world and light a candle and just “be.” Most every religion advocates this, whether it be called prayer, meditation, mindfulness or whatever. Just calm yourself down. Peace. Be Still. — And if life’s distractions keep you from having a quiet time, wake up earlier or make the most of nap time– whether it’s yours or your children’s.

The world would be a better place if we had no worries. A worry is that uneasiness or anxiousness we feel thinking about something that could possibly go wrong. It is just human to worry about things, but you can also try to control these worries by being mindful; that is living in the present. 

With the technology we have today it seems like no one can relax– you have to check your phone or you will miss something. You feel you have to have your phone nearby– just in case someone calls with an emergency—there you go again, worrying about something. 

Here is a way to calm yourself down so you can just live peacefully in this moment.

Take a deep breath and let it out. Now, start at your toes and tense up each body part (toes, ball of feet, heel, ankle, etc.) all the way up to your head and your body is all tensed up. Now take a big deep breath and let it all out.  Breathe in, hold it, breathe out. Breathe in, hold it, breathe out. Now do that by yourself with your eyes closed (not looking at this blog)

Just by doing those simple things you were being mindful. You were concentrating on what is happening right now. This is why taking a deep breath can be so beneficial.

When a baseball pitcher is in a crucial situation watch him as he will usually  step off the mound and take a deep breath. This is being mindful. He is trying to make his mind stop racing from what will happen if he throws a bad ball back to “here I am at this moment, and I am present and I will do the best I can do.” And he never thinks of the “perfect storm of horribleness” that “could” happen. At the time he lives in the moment and concentrates on what is happening at that time.

Sandy Elfrink, who is featured in the Choose Happy book, owns a company of 50 employees. As a business owner she has a lot of decisions to make and a lot of stress in the day-to-day operating of the company.  When she has a lot on her mind, she tries to bring herself to just being in the present. Just be present TODAY and make today be a great day.

“There is a mindfulness free app called Insight Timer,” said Sandy. 

There are apps for everything but for calmness?

“It has several courses, guided meditation and prayer,” she said. “All of the content is free and most  of it is excellent.”

There are so many ways to be mindful, and most of them involve quiet. Quiet your mind and your body. Stretching and yoga can help. As you exercise or do yoga, rather than thinking about what you have to do afterwards, or how you “hate” exercising, try thinking about each muscle or body part that is benefitting from your healthy physical movement. Think about how lucky you are to be able to do those exercises. Be grateful.

Rather than looking on exercise or working out as something you don’t want to do but feel you need to do, feel gratitude for each stretch and each movement. Take deep breaths and if you can hold your breath for 20 seconds, thank God because there is someone somewhere who would give anything to be able to do that.

We really are so lucky no matter what the world wants us to believe. We live in a great country that many people choose to move to so they can have the freedoms we have. We have resilient bodies and strong minds and we can choose to be mindful about all that we DO have and not dwell on the negatives.

Being mindful and concentrating on where you are, rather than worrying about what might happen is better for you.

“I am helped in stressful situations by keeping my eyes open for God moments,” said Karen Gore, another person I interviewed for my book.  “In the midst of all of my most troublesome times I am amazed by the tangible evidence of God’s love and attention to detail.”

Like maybe having “Number 12” on my list of 15 Ways to be Happy be “Mindfulness” on a week when we all really need to stop and be mindful.

My mother’s favorite quote that she got from a minister was “Don’t worry about tomorrow, that’s God’s time; just be concerned with today.” If you read this on Monday and the election is Tuesday, take Mom’s advice.

We can’t change what will happen in terms of the elected officials. Someone will win and someone will lose, and the sun will come up the next day. And what good does it do us to worry about the upcoming surgery? We can’t change the outcome of the COVID-19 test and we can’t change someone who is an oaf.

It’s as simple as this: we are going to wake up tomorrow or we aren’t. We will live—and life will go on or we will die in our sleep.

That may be a harsh way to put it but as long as we are ready to hit our final destination (for me that would be Heaven) then these are just stops along the way.

There have been bad presidents and there have been good ones. There have been bad diagnoses and people have outlived them by many years. There have even been predictions of things that never happened. Examples: I remember taking things out of our china cabinets because there was supposed to be a huge earthquake and it never happened. Also I remember bracing ourselves for what they called “Y2K” because when the clock struck 12 at the end of 1999 everything was supposed to go kaput.

Wow, what if we woke up and the person we are most afraid of got elected—and we took it well and gave them a chance and it turned out ok? What if we got bad news from the doctor but they had a treatment plan and we trusted it and it that it might turn out ok. What if instead of falling apart in despair over any situation we became more mindful and really trusted God.

As I’ve pointed out before, my writings are not to persuade you to have a certain religion, but my strength and beliefs come from my personal faith in God and my Savior Jesus Christ. If you have another religion, I encourage you to embrace it and let it help you through a tough time.

We should be here to help each other, not try to persuade others to do or think the way we do because we think it’s the only right way to do something,

As Carrie Underwood said in her song, “this is my temporary home.”

No matter what the outcome of any of our situations, we will be ok if we trust in God and remain open to the goodness that is out there. Let’s try to be mindful and put our blinders on as to the negative situations and people. Let’s try to rise above it, stay on track pursuing Excellence (not perfection) and Choose Happy.

A PRAYER FOR ALL OF US

Dear Lord,

We thank you for all the wonderful blessings you have given us. I personally want to thank you for___________________. (Pause and be mindful of all the good things in life—nature, family, friends, etc.)

We pray for those close to us– our family and friends and that they are all safe.

And we pray special prayers for those who need it—those who have asked for our prayers or who we recognize with situations who need our prayers.

And God please give us the faith that we can trust You that everything will be ok. Things may not turn out the way we planned but let us lean on you to realize that You are holding our hands and You will protect us as a parent protects a child. And when things do go our way, help us oh Lord to be humble, gracious and empathetic knowing that others might be hurting.

I put all my faith in You and I know you will “deliver us from Evil.”

For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever. AMEN.

BIBLE VERSE

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.   – Philippians 4:6-7. ESV

QUOTE

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” – Mother Teresa

ACTION PLAN

Today, let’s not have an “action plan.” Let’s try taking things as they come and looking at them with a new attitude. Let’s try being mindful because after all, we are just passing through and whatever hardships come our way, they are only temporary.

ONE LAST THOUGHT

This is My Temporary Home

by Carrie Underwood

Little boy, six years old
A little too used to bein’ alone
Another new mom and dad, another school
Another house that’ll never be home
When people ask him how he likes this place
He looks up and says with a smile upon his face

“This is my temporary home
It’s not where I belong
Windows in rooms that I’m passin’ through
This is just a stop, on the way to where I’m going
I’m not afraid because I know this is my
Temporary home.”

Young mom on her own
She needs a little help got nowhere to go
She’s lookin’ for a job, lookin’ for a way out
‘Cause a half-way house will never be a home
At night she whispers to her baby girl
Someday we’ll find a place here in this world

“This is our temporary home
It’s not where we belong
Windows in rooms that we’re passin’ through
This is just a stop, on the way to where we’re going
I’m not afraid because I know this is our
Temporary Home.”

Old man, hospital bed
The room is filled with people he loves
And he whispers don’t cry for me
I’ll see you all someday
He looks up and says “I can see God’s face”

“This is my temporary Home
It’s not where I belong
Windows in rooms that I’m passin’ through
This was just a stop, on the way to where I’m going
I’m not afraid because I know this was
My temporary home.”

This is our temporary home

Sally Tippett Rains is a motivational speaker, inspirational writer and author of 13 books, including Choose Happy; Find Contentment in Any Situation. She is the volunteer Executive Director of Rainbows for Kids and content manager for STLSportsPage.com.

“I pray for everyone who reads this. If you need any special prayers, feel free to email me.”