Strategy & personal development

The winning strategies for a successful life

“The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.”

It’s been rainy in Solihull UK, and I was feeling run down and low-energy last week, so I went to see my local homeopath. She looked at me and asked what I thought was a very unusual question:

‘Are you having a really good week?’

As I had just closed several deals which meant that in theory I could pretty much take at least a day off! (though in practice, I know I will not), I said ‘yes, I suppose I have.’

‘I thought so,’ she said. ‘I’ve never seen you this stressed.’

What was interesting to me about that exchange was that it hadn’t occurred to me I could get just as stressed out by things going too well as by things going poorly.

When I looked at the common elements to both scenarios, the connection became clear – whether things seem to be going extremely poorly or extremely well, my focus is in the future, not in the moment – and the future (over which I have no direct control) can be a very stressful place to live.

In fact, the only moment we have any real control over is this one – and of course, this one right now.

As I drove home in the rain, musing over my ‘moment’ theory, I heard the unmistakable sound of a car skidding towards me in the rain. I snapped out of my thought-trance, slammed on my own brakes, and mercifully everyone was completely fine.

Better still, I had found the moment (you know – this one) – and in just a few moments, all the stress I had been feeling dissipated, replaced instead by a gentle ‘background bliss’.

I have been fairly solidly grounded in the moment (it’s happening right now) since then, and have reaped the benefits of relatively stress-free living.

But as I sat down to write today, it occurred to me that narrowly avoiding a car accident, useful though it was for me in finding the moment (are you here yet?), was not a terribly practical tip to share. So instead, here are three of my favourite non-life threatening ways to ‘find the moment’ along with a special experiment which neatly addresses many people’s fear that finding in the moment means losing out on the gifts of the past and the potentials of the future.

1. Stop breathing (but only for a moment)

One of my favourite quotes, for which I have never satisfactorily found an author, is:

“Life isn’t measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments which takes your breath away.”

In the past week, I have had my breath taken away by:

  • Seeing my wife come down the stairs dressed to the nines for an evening out
  • Seeing my dogs cuddled up with one another sound asleep on the sofa
  • The view out over the valley on a midnight hike with a friend
  • A scene in a movie about a family that live in a lighthouse

Each time you lose your breath in the beauty of nature or even a sappy, happy movie, you find the moment – and by taking the time to collect those moments, you get to relive them in every moment now.

2. Have an ‘in body’ experience

One of the great things about having a body is that it is always anchored in the present moment. So anytime you’re looking for the moment, you know you can find it right where you are sitting (or standing) now.

Just take ten seconds or so (about the time it takes for three gentle breaths) to scan your body from your head down to your stomach. This simple process, which author Gay Hendricks calls ‘The Ten Second Miracle’, is a quick and gentle way of not only finding the moment but finding out what is going on for you in this moment.

3. Live the questions

In the book ‘Unconditional Bliss’, Raphael Cushnir shares a simple two question exercise for finding and living in what the Hawaiians call ‘the moment of power’. Simply ask yourself ‘What is happening right now?’ and take the time to answer. Then regardless of what your answer is, ask yourself this: ‘Can I be with it?’

Even if your answer is ‘no’, simply sticking with these two questions will reliably guide you into the moment even when everything around you is trying to take you anywhere but here.

Here’s an experiment:

While it is possible to do this in your head as a ‘thought experiment’, I have found it is infinitely more impactful to take the extra minute or so to actually do it on paper.

1. Draw two circles on a piece of paper.

2. Next, draw two horizontal lines across the middle of the first circle, forming a narrow band (like the equator). In the second circle, draw one horizontal line near the top of the circle and one near the bottom (like the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn for those of you who remember your geography!)

3. Now fill in the sections of each circle from top to bottom as follows: past, present, future

4. The first circle represents the way most of us live – the majority of our time in the past or future with just a few precious moments each day, week, month or year solidly grounded in the present. The second represents what’s possible – living in the depth and breadth of the present moment while always able to dip into the past or future as necessary.

5. Choose one day this week to really experiment with living moment by moment. Instead of beating yourself up each time you ‘wake up’ to find yourself lost in the past or future, congratulate yourself for noticing, find the moment, and enjoy!

Have fun, learn heaps, and enjoy putting things into their proper perspective!

Originally posted 2022-09-07 11:43:57.

Dr Colin Thompson
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Dr Colin Thompson

Colin is a former successful Managing Director of a wide range of companies, former Group Chairman of the Academy for Chief Executives, as well as many other prestigious roles. He is also an author/writer for IPEX, Graphic Display World, News USA, Graphic Start, many others globally. His focus is on helping companies raise their `bottom-line` and `increase cash flow`. Plus, helping individuals to be successful in business and life in general. Author of several publications, research reports, guides, business and educational models; as well as over 4000 articles/reports and 35 books published on business and educational subjects worldwide. He is also an international speaker/visiting university professor.

The winning strategies for a successful life

by Dr Colin Thompson Time to read: 3 min