I read the following paragraph from Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman last night while doing the elliptical and almost fell off the machine:

“…Are you driven by the daily routines that force you to live in your head rather than in your life? Now Mindfulness Eight Week Planextrapolate this to apply to the life you have left to you. If you are thirty years old, then with a life expectancy of around eighty, you have fifty years left. But if you are only truly conscious and aware of every moment for perhaps two out of sixteen hours a day (which is not unreasonable), your life expectancy is only another six years and three months. You’ll probably spend more time in meetings with your boss! If a friend told you that they had just been diagnosed with a terminal disease that will kill them in six years, you would be filled with grief and try to comfort them. Yet without realizing it, you may be daydreaming along such a path yourself.”

Can you believe that? What an incredible insight! For those of us with OCD who are obsessed with all the ways that we could meet an untimely death, this paragraph is especially sobering. By obsessing, we are creating exactly what we are afraid of…we are shortening our lives. Not only that, but we are the cause of our foreshortened future, by choosing to let our days go mindlessly by, filled with obsessions.

Of course, it’s not just people with OCD who have this problem (although we are probably more prone to it than most): everyone does this!

So, in my all-time shortest Aha! Moment (which I’m going to post right now without excessive checking as an exposure practice), take Williams and Penman’s next words to heart. Do something this weekend to become aware of your life as it’s happening, and lengthen your life expectancy by waking up to your life:

“If you could double the number of hours that you were truly alive each day then, in effect, you would be doubling your life expectancy. It would be like living to 130. Now imagine tripling or quadrupling the time you are truly alive. People spend hundreds of thousands of dollars—literally—on expensive drugs and unproven vitamin cocktails to gain an extra few years of life; others are funding research in universities to try to expand radically the human lifespan. But you can achieve the same effect by learning to live mindfully—waking up to your life.”

For more about how I incorporated meditation and mindfulness into my OCD recovery, see pages 242-243 of  Is Fred in the Refrigerator? Taming OCD and Reclaiming My Life.

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FredTalks are not a replacement for therapy, and I encourage all readers who have obsessive compulsive disorder to find a competent ERP therapist. See the IOCDF treatment provider database for a provider near you. And never give up hope, because you can tame OCD and reclaim your life!

Williams, Mark; Penman, Danny (2012-11-13). Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World (p. 37). Rodale. Kindle Edition.