The Tiger Principle: Live in the Moment

An iExpectSuccess Work Life Balance Tip

Autumn always brings a nostalgic feeling as I remember back to the turning of the seasons and the fading of summer into fall in Southern Idaho where I grew up. One of my favorite memories was the State Fair.

The State Fair was the event of the year with all the blinking lights, strange sights, and juxtaposition of incompatible sounds that make kids think they are in wonderland. Mom and Dad would pack all of us in the car to make the trip from New Plymouth to Boise, Idaho. Crammed in the back seat with my brother and sisters, it seemed like it took forever to travel from my home town of New Plymouth to Boise even though it was only about an hour.

I can still the taste the delicious cotton candy, my sweet of choice.

However, my most vivid memory is of my fickle sister, Joan. When we were on the tilt-a-whirl she wanted to be on the Ferris wheel. When we were on the Ferris wheel, she wanted to be on the roller-coaster. And when we were on the roller-coaster, she really wanted to be in the fun house.

She could never enjoy the moment.

Adults often exhibit similar behavior. When we are at home, we think about work and when we are at work, we think about home. When we are playing tennis we have this feeling gnawing inside that we should be cleaning the garage. When we are cleaning the garage, we sure wish we had time to relax and play a little tennis.

We are preoccupied and do not give full attention to the activity of the moment. This reduces productivity and causes us to live in a frenetic mental and emotional state. We worry about events or tasks we cannot affect and we live out of balance.

Live in the moment! Focus on the now. You’ll be more productive and happy.~Karla Brandau

The Tiger Principle

An ancient Zen story is told of a man who was being chased by a tiger. As he was running, he literally ran off of a cliff. On the way down, he grabbed a branch of a tree growing out of the rocky side of the cliff.

He looked up into the gaping jaws of the tiger and winced at the claw pawing for him. He then heard another thunderous noise and looked down. On the ledge just beneath him was another tiger looking up at him with hungry eyes.

His life passed before his eyes and disappeared. As he took a long, deep breath, he noticed a wild strawberry that had been kissed by the sun until it was brilliant red and perfectly ripe. With one hand, he reached over and picked the strawberry.

He ate it and enjoyed it–never worrying about the tigers of the past or the tigers of the future.

We need to apply the tiger principle in our lives. Don’t worry about the tigers of the past or the tigers of the future. Approach each moment as if it was the most precious moment of your life.

Each present moment is the most precious moment of your life. ~Karla Brandau

Live in the Moment

This simple story has many applications to modern day life. Who doesn’t feel like there are tigers out to get you?

The Tigers of the Past. The tigers of the past roar in your mind, “If only …” “I should have …” “Why was I so foolish?”

To dwell on past mistakes makes you a victim and the tiger of the past has wounded you with his sharp claws. The wound may be shame for personal actions or regret for participating with others in a failed endeavor, but all the same, looking back to negative experiences in the past makes you feel afraid and reticent to go into the future with a strong purpose and empowered to build a positive future. It is futile to think you can go back. You cannot turn back the clock but you can say to yourself: “I did the best I could at that moment.” “I made the best decision I could with the information I had.”

The Tigers of the Future. The tiger of the future represents fear of failure, fear of criticism, fear of not measuring up to name just a few of the fears humans can conjure up in their minds when thinking about the future. These fears paralyze you and you take baby steps forward, not giant leaps toward achievement and accomplishment.

The solution I offer you is to meticulously plan. Take an event happening in the future that makes your stomach churn, sit down with pen and paper and plan out all of the steps to success. Think through the bumps and imagined missteps and you would do to avoid them. This process calms your mind.

The Strawberry. Some people think this story is more about the strawberry than the tigers. The strawberry represents the present: ripe, sweet and luscious. I have picked a strawberry right off the vine and the flavor is amazing. To change from worrying about the tigers of the past and the tigers of the future to living in the present moment is an amazing experience as well.

Using the analogy of the state fair, enjoy the ride on the tilt-a-whirl or the Ferris wheel and then decide what you will do next. You have this power. Use the present moment to your advantage before it slips away into the past. Make the present moment productive or memorable and take care lest it becomes a roaring tiger of the past.

The Present. The present moment has possibility and promise which brings vitality and energy to your psychic. Carpe diem or ‘seize the day’ has been used through the decades as a popular theme to motivate us as mere mortals to take more aggressive action in behalf of our future.

However, Carpe minutam means ‘seize the minute’. Granted, it is a little harder to say than Carpe diem, but living in the present minute literally means to seize every single moment of the day and relish the magnificence of being alive.

Carpe minutam – “Seize the Minute” that the present gives you. ~Karla Brandau

This could mean you really watch the little league game instead of reading or cleaning out your email; you eat at the table and talk to your kids and spouse instead of watching TV while you eat; refraining from checking your texts while you are at a restaurant with coworkers. The ways to live in the present minute are endless.

Leave your comments below and tell everyone who reads this column your secret to living in the moment.

Bring Karla’s keynote, Live in the Moment (an iExpect Success Keynote), to your next meeting.  Karla Brandau is aiExpectSuccess Logo 2- FA keynote speaker who travels from Atlanta. She speaks on leadership, time management and life balance.

Read about Karla’s Harmonize Your Life program.

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