Why we won’t make the most of every moment

It popped up again on a friend’s Facebook post this week. She’d mentioned moving her toddler into his first ‘big boy bed’ and one of her friends told her to ‘enjoy every moment’. She went on to spend two hours settling him to sleep, and was woken several times overnight.

Near her in the news feed was another friend, struggling with infertility. A friend who would welcome with open arms the notion of being sleep-deprived for a reason as beautiful as being woken by a child.

We remembered reading a blog post once. The author has terminal melanoma. It was about the pressure to have the perfect birthday, when she doesn’t know how many more birthdays she will have. “When you know that your time is limited,” she said, “you put so much emphasis on making every moment, especially special events, count. I think this is why I hate the phrases, ‘live in the moment’ or ‘live each day like it’s your last’. Receiving that advice may be refreshing for some, but for me it is pressure. It is pressure to be happy and enjoy every moment. It is also the feeling that people expect that you are having or will have a fantastic day.”

Her advice makes so much sense. It is unrealistic for us to be happy all the time. To enjoy every day. To make the most of every single hour. It’s unrealistic if you’ve been told your time is limited. It’s unrealistic if you’re living in ignorance of how much time you have.

Social researcher, Hugh Mackay, goes as far as ‘attacking’ the concept of happiness. “Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are.”

Once we flick that switch and strive for ‘wholeness’ instead of ‘happiness’, everything assumes a different weight in our lives. Our failures and upsets, the days we get it wrong, the mistakes we make, the words we say and wish we hadn’t … all of that contributes to a rounded experience in life. All of it helps us grow.

So often we’re urged to live extraordinary lives. We feel ‘not enough’ when we fall short of the perfect careers or relationships, or when we falter as parents or friends or in our health. We’re tough on ourselves in the ‘crunchy’ days, when things just don’t go well, or when we do things badly.

The pressure to make the most of every single moment feeds into this. Maybe I could have done more. Maybe I’m wasting my time …

Maybe we’re just human beings, living ‘whole’ lives against a barrage of pressures, and need to be kinder to ourselves. How might it look when we give ourselves permission just to ‘be’.

All the best

Emma and Audrey

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About The Author

Emma Grey & Audrey Thomas

Audrey Thomas and Emma Grey are productivity experts, authors of 'I Don't Have Time' and its forthcoming sequel 'I Can't Be Bothered', and co-founders of the popular online program, My 15 Minutes. They help busy women reclaim their time and energy around the real-life challenges of modern life.

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