In order to be truly #livinginthemoment, I have discovered that I have to let down my guard. This acronym is a great illustration for two reasons. One, it is truly an absolute necessity to let down our guard (or to let the walls between us and others crumble) if we are to be effective at living in the moment, letting the past go, forgetting what may or may not happen tomorrow and just living for today with serenity, courage and wisdom. Secondly, the very act of letting down our guard—taking down those walls—is the act of letting go of these five key hindrances to the mindfulness of living in the present.
G is for Guilt—We are all human, therefore we all make mistakes, hurt others and have regrets. Guilt goes one step further, from knowing we blew it into wallowing in our errors. Instead, we have to let go of guilt by choosing to look at our mistakes and shortcomings as ways that we can live and learn. We can own where we’ve failed, make things right with those we’ve hurt, forgive ourselves and then let the guilt go. Guilt never served any positive purpose in your life. When you live in the past focused on your failures, you cannot live in the moment.
U is for Ugliness—What does the guilt of the past and the anxiety of the future do to our spirits? It makes us ugly. Our reactions, harsh words and negative mindsets are almost always about the past or the future. In this present moment we have choices, but the past and the future are entirely out of our control. To truly live in the present inherently means letting go of the past and the future to grab hold of today. In doing so, we let go of the ugliness that these wrong focuses naturally cause.
A is for Anxiety—Anxiety is so prevalent in our world today that many of us can scarcely imagine our world, our family or ourselves without it. But did you know that anxiety has one single root cause? We worry and become anxious when we are trying to live with a future-focus, one step ahead of real life. You are worried about what tomorrow may bring or you are trying to manipulate everything in your todays in order to control your tomorrows. This simply will never work.
R is for Resentment—This is perhaps the most difficult part of letting our guard down. Resentment feels a lot like guilt except that it’s focused on the past mistakes of other people rather than one’s own. You may have had something happen to you that was just plain wrong. Devastating. Life-changing even. It can feel like resentment is the only natural response to what’s happened to you, but the reality is that you will never be able to experience the peace of living in the moment if you are choosing to hold on to the grievances of the past with resentment. To truly let go of the resentment that you feel, you must accept that bad things happen to everyone. There’s no getting around it, and the only way to make peace with the present is to accept the past for all its faults and failures as lessons learned to help make today better.
D is for Depression—Depression is another societal norm that almost all of us have struggled with at some point and to some degree. Once again, there is a single source for this debilitating mindset. Depression is what happens when we are living in the past, when you are (maybe subconsciously) stuck in the thoughts or feelings from any negative part of your past. A backwards-focus always results in a depressed mindset because everything but the present moment is completely out of our control. We may have been able to make a better choice back then, but we didn’t. “It is what it is” is a way we try to deal with the reality that what’s done is done. But we can say that and still stay stuck in it. The better way to deal with it is to forgive yourself or whomever hurt you, and let it go. Nothing can change what happened in the past. Focusing in the rear-view mirror prevents you from the joy of living for what’s right in front of you today, the only moment when you have any control.
Letting go of Guilt, Ugliness, Anxiety, Resentment and Depression may seem too lofty a goal. I promise you this is as attainable as any other goal in life. Everything you’ve ever become an expert at started off daunting. Letting down your guard and living for the moment is a byproduct of making the choice to do just that. Remind yourself daily of this goal. Create a vision board with quotes and pictures you will see often to remind you, and seek help from God in prayer each day to focus on today only, letting down your G.U.A.R.D., and see if you don’t find yourself feeling ten pounds lighter and smiling more.