What does a critical theater review look like?

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Answered by: Bree, An Expert in the Show Reviews Category
I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't prone to moodiness, volatility, and bouts of eccentric behavior. But then again, who among us isn't? The truth of the matter is that the source of our wavering and fluctuating attitudes is primarily due to our inability to live in the present moment and perceive our reality for what it truly is.

Our minds are brilliantly adept at wandering. When we should be concerned with making a left hand turn at a busy intersection, we drift away from the present moment; worrying about what we are going to have for dinner, what our boss thought of that off-handed comment we blurted out in today's meeting, and regretting why we didn't do this or that differently.

All of this fretting and hand-wringing about things that haven't happened or can't be changed actually has a devastating effect on our mental, emotional, and physical health and wellness. Moreover, it's just a total waste of time and energy. Author Jon Kabat-Zinn recently reminded me pf the importance of preserving vital energy, living in the present moment, and remaining grateful for all that life has to offer. From Kabat-Zinn's writings, this quote from an eighty-five year old woman said,

"Oh, I've had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I'd have more of them. In fact, I'd try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day."

No truer words have been spoken and yet what seems like such a simple principle is elusive; slipping through our fingers just when we think we've caught it by the tail. Being present is tricky: our survival instincts have us hard-wired to anticipate danger and obstacles ahead, while our rational minds leave us ruminating over our past 'mistakes,' and desire to rewind and do things differently. So how do we overcome our instincts and mammalian brains to allow ourselves to just 'be' in the present moment ? Kabat-Zinn suggests the following:

1. Consider what's right with you. "Until you stop breathing, there's more right with you than wrong with you," says Kabat-Zinn. Every day, take a moment to thank your eyes for seeing, your liver for functioning, your feet for carrying you from place to place. Heck, thank those mitochondria within your cells for pumping out the energy you need to get you out of bed in the morning.

2. Love yourself unconditionally. Hate yourself for being 40 pounds overweight? Those berating thoughts you have about your imperfections can actually derail you instead of motivating you into action. (It's that old story: Starve yourself as punishment for overeating, until you can't take it anymore and give in to a binge.) Rather than setting a weight-loss goal and promising to love yourself once you get there, Kabat-Zinn says you need to make an effort to love yourself "all the way," whether you're 300 pounds or 150. If you decide to eat smaller portions or give up chips for carrot sticks, simply tell yourself, "This is just the way I'm eating now as a way to live better."

3. Live in the present moment. "Every moment gives you the ability to learn, grow, and change," explains Kabat-Zinn. "If you can take a moment and live as if it really mattered, you can take a step back and see those impulses that may be negative to your health." What's more, you'll truly enjoy those indulgences like the creamy feel of a Godiva truffle or a 10-minute shoulder massage at an airport kiosk when your flight is delayed. You can also take pleasure in those small interactions with others: with the doorman, greeting you in your office lobby; the lady in line ahead of you at the supermarket; the goodnight hug from your child.

4. When life gets tough, don't take it personally. When faced with job loss, a foreclosure, or an impending divorce, it's really hard not to place the blame squarely on your own shoulders and get stuck in the "if only" mind-set. If only I had (choose one): taken a different job, bought a cheaper house, not cheated. That sort of rumination sets you up for full-blown depression. While it's important to accept responsibility for your actions, the best way to do that is by looking to the present rather than the past.

What are you going to do that's different right now, at this moment, to move forward? "When the proverbial stuff hits the proverbial fan, it's really important to recognize and acknowledge the fear you're feeling," says Kabat-Zinn. "But also recognize that it's in these trying times that you will understand fully what it means to be human, to utilize all the resources you have." After all, it's those challenges faced by the World War II generation that earned it the distinction of being called the "greatest."

5. Put the "being" back in human. If you fill every moment with frenetic activity—work, text messaging, household chores, computer games—you never give yourself a chance to simply be. Too many of us are human stuff, the sum of our actions, instead of human beings, points out Kabat-Zinn. As corny as it sounds, just sitting for a moment to contemplate the clouds, the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the pattern of stalled cars winding around the freeway, is what separates us from the nut-gathering squirrels. And science shows it's a great stress reliever, to boot.

Easier said than done? Maybe. But there is no better time than now to begin living a life steeped in health and wellness starting with being mindful of the present moment. Just 'be' and be well!

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