How to Appreciate the Moment | The BridgeMaker

How to Appreciate the Moment

By on Apr 24, 2012

Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose. – Yoda

There is a line in recovery literature that reads, “Appreciate a sunset without wanting to own it.”

The sentence stirs lost feelings of innocence in me. I’ve been living in a challenging and somewhat harsh adult world lately; it’s been quite some time since I engaged in anything with childlike wonder.

It feels like forever since I just marveled, gazed, or marveled at something and then let it go. Can you remember when you–recently–immersed yourself in the splendid momentary feeling of something beautiful and then walked away from it with nothing but the appreciative memory to follow you?

Have I ever really done that?

No, my way is to grasp that glorious feeling and clutch it to me as if it’s my last breath. I want to wring every teeny bit of whatever that feeling is into a cup so I can sit it in front of me and just stare at it. If I keep it in my sight, then maybe the feeling won’t disappear.

Rarely has it occurred to me that I can choose to move away from a good feeling. I also assume that when the good feeling ends, I must mourn its passing, when in truth, the ending is supposed to happen.

Instead, I want to talk about it. Relive it. Process it. View it from all angles. Discuss it. Keep it alive.

Have you walked through the dissection of your feelings toward a sunset (or pick another fleeting moment) and in the end thought, “What was so great about that sunset?”

Of course not because every time you watch a sunset, it is a wholly special capsule of time. But when I hold its memory too tightly, I lose sight of what comes after the sunset.

Think of it this way: Obsessing about something means you spend hours weighing its merits, maybe even listing them in columns on a legal pad. You write pros and cons and ponder the possibilities of reenacting the thing over which you’re obsessing.

If we’re still talking about the sunset, these are hours when you could have seen each of the stars God throws nightly into the sky. You missed the first cool breeze on the evening air. You may have even lost the chance to exchange a sweet kiss with your loved one while gazing at the rising moon.

I use the sunset as a metaphor, of course, for the ways in which we put a death grip on our moment-by-moment experiences.


Because if we let go of the feeling, we fear it may never return.

That, my friends, is a learned, adult behavior.

Children who scamper and play, experience fun and then move on without worrying about whether the fun will still be there IF they decide to return. They don’t think about it one way or another. They just go on to the next experience.

Here’s what I’m slowly learning to do

During the day, when there is a moment to pause and notice a thing of beauty–a yellow finch on a feeder, a tree with its tiny spring bud leaves, a dog lying quietly under her person’s chair at an outdoor coffee shop–I take those moments and file them away in my mind. Then I go on about my business.

I’ve marked the file tab Field of Flowers.

At the end of the day, before I sleep, I open the file folder and briefly recall each of those moments. I imagine each one is a flower in the field and then I feel the flowers gently swaying in the evening breeze.

Each of the flowers–representing the day’s momentary beauty blessings–is a planting of gratitude for the day. Make it your mission to plan a huge garden each day. Enjoy it for a moment knowing that tomorrow you get to grow a whole new garden.

The trick, of course–and I say this mostly for myself–is to let the garden just be. Don’t feel like you need to take a hoe to it every day. This particular garden won’t be growing weeds.

Resist the urge to prune and water and fuss over your garden. Plant it and go. Appreciate and move on. Express gratitude and be quiet.

I know it’s difficult. Sometimes letting go of adult habits is excruciatingly hard. Please persist. I promise you the rewards will be worth the work. While you’re practicing, go to a park and watch kids at play. Emulate them. Why should kids have all the fun?

Then, breathe deeply and pat yourself on the back. You’ve just appreciated a sunset without having to own it.

Beth Wilson is the creator of B Here On Purpose, a solo-preneur company dedicated to mindful living, and writes a blog called B Here Today, about finding balance between our outer and inner worlds. Visit her at BHERETODAY.COM, where you can find her new e-book B Here On Purpose, or on Twitter (@bheretoday) and Facebook.

  • I have nominated your Blog for the Sunshine Award. Thank you <3 

  • You had me at the Yoda quote! 🙂  Strangely enough a phrase popped into my mind the other day doing a morning meditation “Fear and doubt they’re my friends…they show me where to evolve and expand.”  Don’t ask me where it came from it just did!   BTW really dig the vibe of your blog.

    • I love that you dig my vibe, David!  Great insightful phrase too.  May I borrow it?

  • Hi Beth — Love your post, but you should ease up on yourself. You seem to think you try to possess the wonders you experience, but you’re innocent. Sounds to me like you simply open yourself up to wonder…and it possesses you! Nothing wrong with that, right?  😉

    • Oh, Jeffrey, you nailed me.  Right before I read your comment, I was talking with a friend about seeing the world and my experiences through a child’s eyes.  You’re so right, I don’t do that enough.  Thank you.

  • My first thought when reading this was about my tendency to start thinking “about” what I’m experiencing rather than just experiencing it.  I start relating it to other experiences, or I think about how I might write about it, or tell someone about it.  I get lost in thought about it rather than paying attention.  Lovely post.  By the way, I have a cousin named Beth Wilson!

    • Your cousin must be a fabulous person, Galen!  LOL.  I completely get what your’e saying about experiencing something or getting caught up in reporting it in some way.  I find myself doing that with taking photos.  It’s so easy to whip out my iPhone for that shot . . . but would I rather simply experience the thing in front of me?  Thanks for your comment1

  • Nancy Shields

    Beautifully written post Beth – I’m with you – just this morning I saw a breath taking sunrise off the dock where my boyfriend and I anchored for the night while sailing his catamaran from Virginia to North Carolina – I captured the moment in my Field of Flowers along with the rough seas, the calm breezes, the gentle kisses and the spendid sun resting sweetly on my face. 

    I am blessed for living in the moment is what I do best – I love the way children teach us to live in that space of the moment for in reality that is all we have.

    Thank you,

    • Oh my gosh, a sunrise over the water?  My favorite, Nancy!  Of course, at night, I always think the sunset is my favorite.  🙂

      What a fabulous adventure in moment-by-moment living.  Many blessings on your journey.