Being Happy—One Nanosecond at a Time
The other night, I was relaxing in front of the fire with a cup of my favorite tea, a square of dark chocolate, and a great movie playing on the DVD. In that moment, I was safe, fed, warm, comfortable, and enjoying myself tremendously.
Then I started wondering about a friend who said he might call that night. I wondered when the phone would ring. I glanced at the clock, saw that it was later than I’d thought, and anticipated that he wouldn’t have much time to talk, if and when he did call. I felt some irritation feathering around the edges of my good mood. Because the second I started thinking about anything other than what simply was, right in that moment—I rocketed myself out of that moment into the land of conjecture and expectation. In short, I set myself up for disappointment.
I aspire to simply be, without expectation…to live with open mind, open heart, and open hands. To find that line between expecting nothing, and staying open to the possibility of anything.
It’s way harder than it sounds. Or perhaps it’s as simple as child’s play, something we all once knew instinctively and have yet to recover the knack of. Very young children exist from moment to moment—to the point where asking them to transition out of that moment into the next is jarring and challenging for them. Animals, I think, do, too. To simply be in the moment and accept it for what it is. To know that even when there is pain, even when there is darkness, we are still, in that moment, okay. If only because we are still, in that moment, alive and breathing. Whatever it is the moment holds, we are here. We exist. That, in itself, is a miracle.
I was trying to talk about this to my young son the other night, who has been feeling overwhelmed lately, as I have, by worries both large and small. We talked about it being pointless to worry about things that have already happened—they are in the rearview mirror, getting smaller every moment, as they recede into the past. We talked about it being pointless to worry about the future, because although we can make plans and hold visions for it, we can’t possibly predict it.
All we really have, all that’s really real, I said, is this moment, right here: me, snuggling next to you in your bed, talking to you. And in this exact moment, we have everything we need.
My son, budding math whiz that he is, considered this and then said, “But Mom, even before you finish saying the word ‘moment,’ it’s already over.” I was, he insisted, talking about the stuff of nanoseconds.
I like that. When living from day to day is too overwhelming, try living from hour to hour. When that’s too hard, try minute to minute. Still too much? Moment to moment. And if that really is beyond what you’re capable of dealing with, maybe my son’s onto something here. Maybe it is possible to be okay—to be happy, even—one nanosecond at a time. The cool thing about moments—and nanoseconds—is that they add up, you know.
In this nanosecond—yes, over even as I talk and write about it—I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, the warmth of the furnace, and the miracle connection of the Internet at my fingertips.
I could choose to dwell on all the things I *don’t* have in this nanosecond—but why? Thinking about what I don’t have—what simply “not is”—takes me out of reality, out of the moment, out of the nanosecond in which all is well into the dark and murky Land of Lack.
And to what end? To beat myself up? To convince myself that if I worry about stuff, I am ensuring those things won’t happen? To confuse the racing, adrenalized heart for the energy of being alive?
If I can find peace, one nanosecond at a time, all those nanoseconds will eventually add up to a pretty good life. And in this nanosecond—and this one—and this one—all is well.
How’s your nanosecond treating you, my friend?