If somebody was to ask you when the most important minute of your life is or was what would your answer be? Some people may say when they were born. Some may say when they got married or had children. There really is no right or wrong answer.
But what if we changed our perspective to think of the next minute as the most important minute of your life. This is what Rick Hanson believes to be the most important minute of our lives.
We can’t change or re-live the past so all the minutes are no longer the most important. It is true they likely all contributed to shaping who we are.
Any minutes in the future have yet to have happened. While we can plan future events they are never truly in our control. Some events out of our control may prevent our plans from ever occurring.
But the very next minute starting from the very instance of thought is the minute we can control our behaviour or actions. We can choose to be angry or defuse and let go of difficult emotions.
We can choose to eat the doughnut and write-off the diet until next Monday or we can choose to resist and surf the urge, however long that takes, and commit to our goal.
The problem with our brain’s desire to “chase carrots” and “avoid sticks” is we believe we need to always react to one of these desires. But through mindfulness, we can step back into the role of observer and simply observe these desires.
Little by little, we can train the brain to no longer react to these desires or urges to gain more self-control over our behaviours and actions. This will take time, and we need not be perfect as we are all human.
But by giving in to urges and desires we are ignoring the observing mind and training our body to react mindlessly to every urge. These can be fine in small doses but over time it leads to re-enforcing bad habits, both mentally and physically.
As we learn that we need not react, we simply sit and observe the next minute we will naturally gain confidence in our own ability. You may have heard people say “I don’t need to smoke anymore” or “I don’t get the urge to eat iced cream anymore”. These changes happened little by little over time through mindfulness – whether intentional or not.
So next time you have an urge to eat or do something you know is bad for you, try and remember the next minute is the most important minute of your life and just sit with it. Let the moment pass and in time the compounding effect of all these important minutes will shape the future us.