A young mom was walking through Home Depot with her 2 year old boy by her side. He was exercising his newfound independence by not allowing her to hold him and walking on his own. He stopped at every flower and sniffed them. He walked from row to row, smelling flowers and letting his mom know which he liked and which he didn’t. He would squeal with excitement with each fragrant sniff, clapping his hands and smiling wide. She was smiling along with him and let him continue on his way, never far from her, smelling each and every flower. It was obvious she was not going to rush him along or stop him from enjoying the different scents that were tickling his nostrils. Two year olds live in the moment, with no understanding of past or future and totally relish the now. He took in every moment and had a wonderful time.
Once home, the flowers that were purchased were replanted and placed in spots around the backyard. Charlie, the almost 3 year old golden retriever, began to do his normal walk around the yard, surveying what has changed, finding new wonders each time. Sometimes it is a stick that is found, sometimes it is a frog that is chased, sometimes it a ball that he buried. This day it was the new flowers. He stood by one of the planters and began to sniff the flowers. He smelled the entire planter from one side to the other, without doing anything else. He seemed to be filled with the same jubilance and wonder that the 2 year old little boy was filled with, looking like a smile was on his face.
How often do we really stop and smell the flowers? How often do we stop and stay in the moment with no expectations of it, with no wondering what is to come? How often do we allow our 2 year old self to really wonder about the experience?
Often, as adults, we focus on what we have to do, or what we are waiting for. We spend so much time either on the past, rehashing how we could have done something different or wishing something was different or the future, focused on our expectations and desires of the future. We tend to miss what is right in front of us and what is happening now. We seem to plan our lives away, always waiting for something. How often are we focused on what is coming up versus what is happening now.
Many of us spend so much time in our minds planning, having expectations of others or events, we get ourselves riled up and, as many of us think, prepared. I have friends who very often catastrophize events so that they are prepared for the worst as they explain it. What they miss in that is looking at what else could happen, what about the good possibility, the best outcome? When we spend so much time worrying about what could happen, we miss out on possibilities because we are focused on the worst. When we spend so much time worrying about what could happen, we may miss out on what is happening, at this moment.
As adults, we forget to enjoy the moment. As adults, we think we should always be focused on our next step, the future. The only time many of us adults are in the moment is on a vacation. We seem to wait for those few weeks a year to just be present. What we learn from kids and animals is that the happiest we are is when we are in the moment just enjoying what is happening around us. Smelling the damn flowers, watching the surf, feeling the breeze on our skin, living and loving in that moment, without expectations.
The more we can follow the example of the 2 year old boy and be in the moment, the more we will experience pure joy and real relaxation. We can reduce the stress we create in our lives by being more in the now, seeing things as they are not how we want them to be. That can be things, people, relationships. I know I spent a lot of my life trying to make relationships different only to be disappointed and let down due to my expectations. I focused on future versus just enjoying the moment. I didn’t spend enough time in the present, smelling the flowers, and just being.
Take the time, smell the damn flowers and focus on now, not when, now. Allow that 2 year old self to come through! That is pure joy!