“This very moment is the perfect teacher, and it’s always with us.”
— Pema Chodron
Anything to feel better
In college, I was a first responder to an event that changed my life. It scarred me. In response, I sought treatment at the counseling center.
When I first walked into the door, I was desperate to “recover.” I didn’t want to feel pain. I didn’t want to feel sadness. I didn’t want to visualize tragedy anymore.
Frankly, I wanted to take a pill and make it all go away. I couldn’t help but feel far from being healthy again. Counseling seemed like a questionable endeavor, where the outcome was unclear. Still, I went.
Hammering home a message
My counselor continued to impart a message on me. Week by week, month by month, he worked to change my narrative. When I would jump to the outcome — the end goal — he would point it out. When I pointed out what I was desperate for in the future, he would bring me back to the present.
Slowly, after countless sessions, something happened.
I could suddenly digest my months.
Then, my weeks.
Then, my days.
Then, my hours.
Then, something clicked.
Becoming present for this moment
I became present for a moment — one solitary second of presence and oneness with the world. And there with my counselor, I realized what he was saying all along: be here for the process, not the outcome.
As much as I wanted all my problems to recede, fighting towards goals that might take years to realize was too challenging. But through daily intention, I could see a path in front of me — even if the end was not in sight.
Slowly (and I mean slowly), my anxiety, flashbacks, and significant mental concerns began to fade. They were background noise to my present-focused moments.
Money on my mind
After two years of graduate school and overspending, I launched myself into the world student loans, car loans, and credit card debt. There was nary a day that passed without a swipe of the card — a probing of my wallets nether regions to scrounge for my last pennies.
It was easy to amass nearly $40,000 debt. Unfortunately, seeing my way out of that hole was remarkably vague, unclear, and disconcerting.
I reverted back. I focused on what I wanted in the end — the outcome. I was pulled back at where I wanted to be, rather than what I could do today. I wanted to be out of debt again; to see my bank account with green coloring, rather than red.
Refocusing on now
Then, I thought about my counseling experience. I had struggled with sadness and recovery, finding it too difficult to digest the process. But it was the process that provided a path for success, health, and today… wealth.
Facing the debt was the first part of my financial recovery. I needed to sit with it, be uncomfortable by it, recognize my discomfort, and then take a bite — with intention.
Now, I’m taking my financial success one day at a time — just like my mental health. And frankly, I’ve never been wealthier or healthier.