I recently found this picture of me as an 18-month old toddler, celebrating spring in a sea of daffodils. The photo reminds me of the happy times of my youth—and it also reminds me what I would go back and tell my younger self if I could: to always take time to smell the flowers.
Sure, I know it sounds cliché, but I’ve learned that really making the effort to be “in the moment” is the best and most fulfilling way to live life. And it’s so easy not to do.
So, here’s what I’d say to my younger self: Be present, and really appreciate every day. Really, it’s not as imperative as you think it is to constantly multi-task, to try to accomplish more than is realistic in any given day or week. Taking time to be in the moment will be far more gratifying than adding to your superficial satisfaction of doing more tasks or accomplishing more objectives.
Really listen when you’re talking with someone. As in, no texting, emailing, or checking messages! When you honor those you are with by not being distracted, you’ll be surprisingly rewarded.
Set priorities and stay focused. Remember it’s OK to say “no” when people ask you to do something! Make family and close friends—the ones who make your life rich and meaningful—your top priority. Always.
Along the way, to try to make a difference in all that you do. But remember, you don’t have to do it all. Most importantly, take time to smell the flowers—just like you did when you were a little girl.
For more in this series, check out: Lessons To My Younger Self
Marguerite W. Kondracke is President and CEO of America’s Promise Alliance, founded by Gen. Colin L. Powell to make children and youth a national priority. Prior to joining the Alliance, she served as Special Assistant to U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, as well as Staff Director for the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families. She also served as Commissioner of the Department of Human Services for then Tennessee Governor Alexander. Previously, Mrs. Kondracke was co-founder and CEO of Bright Horizons Family Solutions. Mrs. Kondracke has been named a Purpose Prize Fellow by Civic Ventures and one of the “Top 50 People of Power and Influence” by The Non-Profit Times . She is an alumna and trustee of Duke University, and holds a master’s degree in psychology from Austin Peay State University. She is married to award-winning journalist Morton Kondracke; they enjoy golf, travel, and spending time with their four children and three grandchildren.More from this Author