10 Hints for Living in the Present Moment
1. Don’t let the past drag you down, develop a short memory!Once we ask God for forgiveness, accept it. Then let go and trust. We can’t second-guess past choices and need to develop a short memory for past disappointments. Francis de Sales encourages us to be grateful for where we are now, not where we were. He doesn’t want us to awaken at the end of life and exclaim: “What a wonderful life I have had. I only wish I had realized it sooner.” Conclusion: Realize your life today!
2. Don’t fear the future!For many people the future is a menacing beast ready to pounce and devour. For Francis de Sales, tomorrow is another day to call “today.” Taking care of today is the best preparation for tomorrow. If we are in God’s presence today, we will stay there when tomorrow arrives. Francis de Sales suggests: “Think only of today and when tomorrow comes, it too will be called today and we will think about it then.”Conclusion: Live today well!
3. Be a doer and not a worrier. Don’t let boredom reign in your life!We often spend too much time worrying about what can go wrong. As a result, we hesitate making choices about moving on. We live life within the phrase “What if?” or wait for special moments: ”I’ll do that when the kids graduate.” Francis de Sales invites us to see the Hand of God in all creation – the possibilities rather than impossibilities. He writes: “If you want to recover lost time, do your best in the time that remains.”Conclusion: Just do it!
4. Be appreciative. Show gratitude often.Salesian spirituality invites our prayer life to center on gratitude. When we’re grateful for little things around us, then the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Francis de Sales tells us that grateful people are positive people who have a profound sense of trust: trust in God and trust in others, nourished by the hope to which they are called in the person and promise of Jesus Christ. In a word, to be grateful is to be great in the eyes of God. Now that is something for which to give thanks! Conclusion: Count your blessings daily!
5. Overlook flaws. See the big picture.
We know that life is a journey. We also realize that our journey is as important as our destination. When we make a mistake along the way, it doesn’t cancel our gifts or our life’s accomplishments. It’s just a mistake within the context of the entire journey. Francis de Sales encourages: “This life is short, but it is valuable, for by means of it we are able to gain eternal life.”Conclusion: Give people a second chance!
6. Pick a virtue that you need now, and practice it.
We need to practice different virtues at different stages of our journey. Sometimes it is patience to deal with elderly parents. Other times it is listening to friends struggling with strained relationships. Still other times it’s trust of teenagers as they grow and test us. Francis de Sales calls these ‘little virtues’ – “These are the little, unattractive and inconspicuous virtues, ones to be exercised in our daily life, in our homes, in our places of employment, with friends and with strangers, any time and all times – these virtues are for us.”Conclusion: Look for one small way to improve!
7. Look to faith for answers when all else fails.It’s wonderful and encouraging remembering that the answer to life’s two basic questions, “Who am I?” and “Where am I going?” is contained in the phrase, “We are all children of God.” De Sales sees it this way: “Having called you to this life, God will strengthen you with grace to do what is required for God’s glory and for your own welfare and happiness, provided you walk in faithful observance.”Conclusion: No one makes it alone!
8. Bury the hatchet about your past. Start over again.In life, we don’t always end up where we’d like. We didn’t win the lottery or become CEO of the company or get a home with the white picket fence. Our dream didn’t happen. Yet, we have some things, but not others. When Jane de Chantal’s widowhood shattered her dreams, Francis de Sales told her to get another dream. Later she explained how she did it! She wrote: “We strive for that loving union of hearts which brings about a holy peace and the kind of blessing we desire to have in the house of God and His Holy Mother.” Conclusion: Be forgiving of yourself!
9. Get some fresh air.We can’t make progress in holiness by sitting on the couch. We have to get up and meet life where it greets us. Often we have to change our surroundings, get new opinions and different viewpoints. We need to breathe in fresh air to bring in newness and blow away the staleness. Francis de Sales said: “Don’t despair over your shortcomings. Start over each day. You make spiritual progress by continually beginning again and again.”Conclusion: Stay open to new ideas!
10. Laugh at yourself.We need to find opportunities to laugh, especially at ourselves. Often we take ourselves too seriously, and too many things personally. This happens because we can’t separate who we are from what we do. We need to keep them disconnected. If we can see humor in any failure or mistake, we can heal more quickly. Francis de Sales also liked to laugh, remarking: “If you make a mistake, laugh at yourself and try again. If an action or decision doesn’t seem good and it looks as if you made a mistake, you should not blame yourself, but rather humble yourself and laugh at yourself.” Conclusion: Use humor to amuse!Great Salesain thoughts as we begin the Fall and confront the challenges and opportunities that await us.