Are you living each day the best that you can?

Live for Today was a popular song in 1967 written by the Grass Roots. You may remember some of the lyrics:

Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today,
And don’t worry ’bout tomorrow, hey, hey, hey
Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today,
Live for today.

The tune was very catchy and I can still hear it in my mind although I have not heard the song for perhaps twenty years now. The message is obvious but one that often eludes most of us. Live each day as fully as we can. It’s a shame to think that we do not live each day this way. Are we waiting for a message to arrive with our final notice? What if the message never comes? Some people will get up today and never realize that it is their last day on earth. If they lived each day the best they could, it would not matter.

Would your life be better today if you could follow the advice in this song? If not, then don’t. However, if your life would be better then think a few minutes about what you can do to live differently today. The point of reflection and meditation is to help us focus our thinking so that we can live more in the present. Maybe it is not your last day on earth, but maybe it is someone else’s last day whom you love. Maybe your living differently will make their last day more meaningful.

But what if today was your last day on earth? What would you do differently as you got up today knowing you only had this day left? Would you suddenly try to make amends with people? Would you savor each moment more and take more time to look around and observe life? How would you spend your last day on earth?

Are you living in the present and taking life one day at a time?

“Take Life one day at a time.” This is probably the most common advice ever given and also perhaps the most seldom taken. Whether we are recovering from an accident, surgery or some other traumatic event, we have all thought about the need to take life one day at a time. But what does it really mean to take life one day at a time? How else could you live except one day, one hour, one minute and one second at a time? You might think that you have another choice, but you don’t. I cannot live tomorrow except in my mind. My only reality is the moment. Tomorrow will be lived one second at a time tomorrow. Today, I live each moment in the present.

Thus, the true meaning of this phase must be found in our desire and thoughts and not in our actuality. We live somewhere else in our minds. I fantasize about yesterday, tomorrow or some other time. I avoid the present by daydreaming or wishing I were someone or somewhere else. In my mind, the time is not today and I am not living now. I am worrying about the future or what I want to happen. I fritter my life away by allowing my mind to wander elsewhere and to deal with problems that have not yet happened.

The essence of meditation and spirituality is to live in the present. When we live in the present, our lives are more grounded and we are able to experience the reality we have now. When we allow ourselves to live elsewhere, we really do not live at all. We become so busy thinking about and worrying about some other time, that we are not able to experience the moment. Henry David Thoreau said: “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” A key essence of all the great spiritual teachings is the importance of living in the present.

What stops you from living in the present? Do you worry about the future and fret about the past? What can you do to learn to live more in the present? What is one thing that would help you towards this goal today? How would your life be different if you could live more in the present each day?

Can we stop death?

Life-cycle time is a business term that refers to the average life expectancy of a new product. Generally, a new product goes through four stages. The four stages are: development, growth, maturity and decline. Marketers must make different decisions about a product depending on what stage the product is in. Some products have a lifecycle that could be measured in decades. Ivory soap and Kikkoman soy sauce have been around for over a hundred years. Many products (fad items) can come and go inside of a few weeks. Some products disappear never to return such as Davy Crockett hats while others (hula hoops) make a comeback. In some respects, the product life cycle concept mirrors our human life cycle. We grow, develop, mature and age/decline. Some would argue we get better with age, but each day of aging brings us closer to if not decline, then at least death.

Marketers will do everything they can to stop the decline of a product, since it is very costly to develop new products. It would seem we do not hold human life in as high regards as products or perhaps human life is viewed from a perspective of greater expediency. On the one hand, we are horrified to see the death toll from war mount up, but on the other hand, we take for granted the nearly 50, 000 automobile deaths in the USA each year. We accept that these deaths are the price we pay for our high tech life styles. Imagine if fifty thousand Americans were killed in the any war this year. People would be screaming to end the war. Do we just assume nothing can be done about highway deaths? Why not make the same effort to protect people from an early death as we do to protect products from an early death.

Each of us has our own life cycle. We will all grow, develop, mature and decline. We cannot stop the cycle of life and death but it seems to make sense to find a way to prevent premature decline or accidental death. What can we do about this neglect? How can we all stop taking death for granted? What would it take to get you to complain about the number of deaths from accidents in this country? What causes of death bother you the most? Would you be willing to take a stand to demand more attention and research be paid to preventing accidents? What about war? Do you accept the inevitability of war? If not, how can we all work to stop war? What can you do today to play a role in stopping war?

Do you know what tech time is and the role it plays in your life?

Tech-time is the time it takes to give birth to the next generation of technology. Tech-time seems to be moving faster and faster. We no sooner understand and can barely program the current technology and the new technology comes along. New technology immediately sends the older technology into obsolescence. However, old technology does not become an antique, just junk. You even have to pay extra to the trash haulers to cart away your old computers and printers. The junk yards will pay you for an old car but you have to pay them to take a used computer. Old technology is beyond junk, it is a nuisance. The other day I tried to load some old files I had and I found that the programs I wrote them in were so aged; I could not find anyway to open them. My new programs would not recognize them.

When the new technology comes out, you must get on board, or the train will leave you standing in the cold. Some people actually worship old technology. The name Luddites refers to a group of people who opposed change in technology because of its negative impact on workers. There are many of us who cling to the old and familiar and are perhaps not as enamored of the productivity gains we are told to expect from new technology. I am not one of them. I love the newest and greatest and I am usually the first to buy or try something new. Again, that is probably why I find antiques worthless. Give me the latest greatest productivity enhancing tools.

Which group are you in? Do you love new technology and can hardly wait for the next generation or do you find comfort in the old tried and true equipment? Why do you think you make the choices you do around technology? Does your feeling of time and change play a role in the technology you choose? How do you feel about the increased speed of tech-time in your life? Are you missing the potential advantages of new technology by holding onto the old? Do you think technology has made your life better or worse? Would you be happier with fewer changes or do you crave more?

Do you value old things or old people?

Antiques and time seem to go together. The older something is the more likely we are to call it an antique. Have you ever wondered how old something has to be before it is an antique? Rocks are very old and no one calls them antiques. One person’s antiques are often another person’s junk. The one thing I notice about antiques is that people of the “time” were more than happy to get rid of them. The last thing in the world they would have thought of was to hold onto these “antiques.” Back before their “antique” became “priceless,” if they could have traded up for something newer or better they would have. However, once something becomes an “antique” we want to hold on to it regardless of how useless or out of style it may be. Antiques seem to write their own rules for style.

Those who are into antiques would never question the style or function of an antique in comparison to some new product. The very virtue of an antique seems to lie in its age. The fact that it is old is one of the major determinants of an antiques price. Yet in some areas of the world, things that are antiques in one country would be new items. I notice for instance that objects in the Midwest of the USA do not have to be as old as on the East Coast to be considered an antique. Of course, the condition and rarity of an item also contribute to the value of an antique but the defining characteristic is age.

Why do we value (some of us anyway) old things, when our current society seems to devalue anything that’s old. If we say that something is out of style, no one wants it. However if it is really old and can be called an antique, then it becomes desirable. If this is true, then perhaps more old people should be classified as antiques. It does not seem that our society really values the aged any more.

I notice that there are those who love antiques and those who find them useless. I am in the latter category. I really do not care much for antiques. I do not value age as much as functionality and most “antiques” are obsolete by today’s standards. I have always liked the newest and most useful gadgets that are in the marketplace. I prefer Japanese motorcycles over old Harley Davidsons. Which group are you in? Do you love antiques? Why? What draws you towards an antique? Do you value the age in people or just in things? Do you think age is important and do you show as much respect for the elderly as you do for antiques? Do you value old things or old people?

Can you add to Karen’s list of time killing ideas?

Let’s KILL some time today. If you are not afraid of killing time and are fearless of the consequences, here is a list my spouse suggested of time killers that she likes:

• Driving around with no place to go or reason to go anywhere
• Suduku puzzles
• Computer solitaire
• Sitting in the sun reading a book
• Sleeping in
• Playing an instrument for fun and not practice
• Window shopping when she does not plan to buy anything

These are just some of the ways that she likes to kill time. If none of the above ideas works for you, try one of your own ideas. Imagine a book not based on time management but on “killing time.” A book that is full of creative and imaginative ways to do nothing productive. Sounds sinful, like eating desert before your meal, or having two popcorns at the movie theater or goofing off when you should be working. Well, the world has a lot more books on managing time than on killing time. Perhaps a few days a year devoted to not being productive would be good for all of us. It might lower the national stress level. Indeed, a measure or Index of National Stress might be a good tool for determining how well the country is doing. Perhaps if stress levels were lower, the crime rates or at least road rage cases would fall.

How does it feel to kill time? Do you feel guilty? Can you take a day without doing anything productive? When was the last time you really goofed off and had a lazy day? Do you ever goof off at work? If we behaved more like little children, do you think we would have more fun albeit less productive lives? Could you survive the guilt?

Are you guilty of killing time?

I am just killing time! How many times have you used this expression? If time is really precious, then should anyone be allowed to kill time? Some might say that it was criminal to kill time. What if people killing time could be charged with a crime?

Imagine a world in 2099, when time is so important and in such short supply that the government passes a law which states: “Anyone killing time, idling time or otherwise wasting time, will be charged with a capital offense, and subject to punishment and imprisonment commensurate with the amount of time killed.” Time Police would be appointed to enforce the new law and a Department of Homeland Time Conservation would be established to find ways to “save” time that might otherwise be killed or wasted. No longer would we be able to kill time. Who among us today would be innocent of such a crime?

How many of us are already guilty of “killing” time every day? When the most common phrase heard is “no time”, how could any of us waste such a valuable resource? What if there was an adoption center for “unwanted time”; would you put your time up for adoption rather than waste it? Or perhaps we need a “Goodwill Center for Time” where you could donate extra time for those who really needed it. How much time could you donate each month? How about some of that time you waste watching TV or playing Video Games?

Patriotism calls us forward! Don’t wait for the government to pass a law forbidding the killing of time. Act now and forever stop wasting and killing time. Act before it is too late. However, if you really want to kill time anyway, I am going to suggest several ideas in my next reading that might help you to do a good job of it. 

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