Five Benefits of Living in the Moment with Carla Burgess

The Five Year Plan

The idea of The Five Year Plan came from an awkward conversation I had at work years ago when someone asked me where I saw myself in five years’ time. I wish I could have given some kind of clearly thought-out answer, but I’m ashamed to say I was stumped by the question.

I had lots of fun writing The Five Year Plan. Aiden and Orla are some of my favourite characters and I was sad when I finished the story and said goodbye to them. Orla and Aiden are very different people, but they say that opposites attract, and I enjoyed making them fall in love despite their differences. Orla is very organised and focused while Aiden is someone who lives in the moment. I think it’s fair to say that Orla and Aiden are quite critical of each other’s approach to life. Aiden laughs at her planning and she despairs of his carefree attitude, but how boring would it be if we were all the same? The world would be a much better place if we could all embrace each other’s differences.

Living in the Moment

While planning gives us a sense of purpose and control over our lives, there are many benefits to living in the moment. In recent years we’ve seen a move towards mindfulness techniques as an antidote to our stressful, fast-paced lives. Such techniques seem even more valuable now we find ourselves living in such uncertain times. With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve almost been forced to live in the moment because we simply don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few weeks, months or even year. It won’t stop us worrying about the health of our loved ones but if we can take comfort in the now, and make the most of each day, it might help us feel a little better.

Here are my Top Five Benefits of Living in the Moment:

  1. It helps you appreciate what’s going on in the here and now. Often, we are not completely present, but lost in our own heads, thinking about the past or longing the future.
  2. It reduces stress by helping you focus only on the present instead of worrying about mistakes we made yesterday or what we have to do tomorrow.
  3. It can make our days more memorable by making you make the best of time. Often, we are so distracted that things pass us by unnoticed.
  4. It helps us notice our own thoughts and emotions and process them, instead of pushing them aside and carrying on regardless.
  5. It makes us happier. Living in the moment has been identified as one of the key factors in wellbeing. Accepting that the present is the only thing we have control over can help us cope when plans don’t turn out as expected.

Of course, falling in love is precisely a time when we do live in the moment. We inhabit every second. Each moment is vivid and precious. Here’s an extract from The Five Year Plan, which shows Orla and Aiden truly living in the moment and appreciating the here and now:

“The river is tumultuous as it rushes by and Aiden’s standing in the middle of it, stripped to his waist with his arms held out, laughing up at the sky. He looks like a mad man, with his long dark hair plastered to his head, his eyes closed, and the rain running in rivulets down his naked torso. I was about to call out to him, to laughingly demand that he come inside out of the rain, but something stops me and instead I just stand and watch him, getting soaked to the skin myself in the process.

He’s so beautiful and so, so wild. Love slams into me, leaving me winded and furious to realise I’ve fallen so hard and so fast without realising.”

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