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Is living for the moment the best use of your time?

By Staff | Apr 23, 2009

We’re all familiar with the old homily life is short so enjoy every moment of every day. Have you ever really given this sentiment a great deal of thought?

What does enjoying every moment really mean? I can see the joy of waking up and taking note that you’re still alive and breathing. And that so far all the vital signs are kicking in. You’re able to breathe, think and make use of all five senses. And the litmus test for having a good day is your ability to get out of bed, stand up and start walking. Anything less is a deprivation.

So you say to yourself, “Thank you, God. I made it through another night and can still kick, scream and feel.”

But what’s the exact art of enjoying every moment so that you get a big bang out of life for the rest of your days? Are you really supposed to get joy out of going to the bathroom upon waking, brushing your teeth, combing your hair and putting your clothes on? All of this takes about 30 minutes. Is this the best we can do to start each day poised to derive the maximum joy out of every minute?

Are your eyes supposed to fill with tears as you rejoice over your choice of toothpaste? Are you supposed to shout from the roof tops “God, I love brushing my teeth, especially with some extra minty toothpaste? It’s great to be alive.”? Does a routine and necessary task like brushing your teeth qualify for the “live life to the fullest” barometer?

Do everyday chores like taking out the trash, paying your bills or washing the dishes qualify for the “enjoy every moment” category as well? Certainly not for me. If they don’t, then you’d probably need to deduct some three hours of daily chores from the enjoy every moment end goal.

Assuming you sleep eight hours a night and think of your daily sleep as one of life’s necessities that leaves 16 hours a day to focus on enjoying every moment. But what about transportation? Many of life’s joys need to be driven to or arrived at by public or private transportation. Can we really say that these time consuming trips are in the category of making every moment count?

What about those horrible traffic jams, road rage, stalled trains and long delays at airports? Is sitting in a traffic jam waiting for the wreckers to clear away three collided vehicles considered making that period of time count? Or standing for hours on a bus or subway train filled to the rafters with people and sniffing the arm pits of unwashed passengers?

Transportation is merely a means to an end getting to work, to the movies, to a restaurant, to a resort, to your in-laws. Does time spent getting someplace count towards enjoying every moment?

So if you add up all the joyless chores and means to an end, that reduces the amount of time devoted to making every minute count to fewer than five hours a day. But what if you just sat through a two-hour movie which you absolutely hated and thought was a waste of time? You can’t get those minutes back, now can you? Assuming we all go through each day hating at least five hours worth of experiences we had that only leaves about five hours worth of time to make every moment count.

Assuming you love your job or career and can’t wait to get to work, aren’t there many painful moments we each go through at the office?

Doesn’t this fly in the face of living for the moment? We don’t enjoy everything we do even though our original intentions were to enjoy every single moment. So making every moment count every single day can be a hit or miss experience. Even sheer joy has its pluses and minuses. You may love playing with the grandchildren for an hour but you may not enjoy the experience of being thrown-up on during that time period.

Or sitting behind the lady with the big hat in the theater. Or the sea sickness induced by choppy seas on your ocean cruise. What this all means is that during the course of each day we have fewer moments of sheer joy than we realize. There are two conclusions you can reach from this exercise. The first is that enjoying every single moment of every single day may not really be in the cards.

The second conclusion is that joy is simply to be found in the act of living and that even if you’re stuck at an airport because of a weather delay you’re still alive and experiencing the moment. There is grief and sadness in life, of course, — but there is still life. You can’t beat that.