It is not every day that a children’s movie can touch and challenge the soul of an adult. This is how I felt during one part of Pixar’s Soul. Whether you’ve seen this movie or not, I want to write about one particular scene that has really affected how I approach life.
The setup (no spoilers!): the main character Joe has received the job opportunity of a lifetime only for it to be snatched away at the last second. Despite all of his other great accomplishments and talents, he feels dejected and hopeless. Another character in the movie then tells him a story —
I heard this story about a fish.
He swims up to an older fish and says,
“I’m trying to find this thing they call ‘the ocean.”
“The ocean?” the older fish says, “That’s what you’re in right now.”
“This?” says the young fish. “This is water. What I want is the ocean!”
All of us, at some point, live life in this way. We easily find ourselves in a hamster wheel, constantly seeking the next best thing, longing for the next stage of life, or are forever focused on a future self. But we completely miss the world around us. The future is imaginary and the past is a memory.
The present moment, however, is our only true and tangible reality. The present moment is our life.
Every day I hear things like “I wish I had taken better care of myself when I was younger” or “I never saw this medical complication coming” or “It’s no fun getting older.”
The rose-colored glasses view of the past haunts us. By neglecting the present moment, we fail to see the warning signs with our health, we fail to see the beauty around us, we fail to cherish our current day-to-day life. We long for the past or fear for the future. But it’s the present moment that we can actually affect, change for the better, and find happiness.
I encourage you, including myself, to work hard at staying in the present moment, especially when you are around your family, on vacation, walking outside in nature, or just in the everyday aspects of your life. These present moments are where we find the beauty and happiness in life.
Start a gratitude journal, spend time off of electronic devices. In terms of your health, ask yourself, “What can I do today that will help me stay healthy?” Before you sit down for a meal, ask “What and how should I eat now, so I can feel healthy and full later?”. Think about how grateful you are to have good food sitting in front of you. Doing this helps anchor your mind and your health in the present and keeps you better on track for a healthier version of yourself.
Take a break and enjoy reality.