Milwaukee Edition

The Secret of Sublime Living

Savoring Perfect Present Moments

Life has many sublime pleasures: watching the sun rise over the horizon and observing the changing colors of the clouds; laughing with a best friend; or simply feeling the grass, dirt or sand under bare feet. The Japanese have a term, mono no aware, for that sublime moment of perfection just before it fades. Sometimes it translates as sensitivity or awareness of impermanent things. It could, for instance, refer to the beauty of cherry blossoms in full bloom; the cherry trees will blossom again next year, but we do not always have a chance to see them again. Everyday distractions can cause us to forget to slow down to enjoy moments.

The secret to sublime living is to pay close attention to the sweet pleasures of life, no matter how small, and savor them before they pass. There is no way to know which weather-perfect day will be the last before the season shifts. Enjoying such a fleeting, sublime moment may mean discarding the day’s plans, but the delights of life do not always come around again.

How easy it is to let the mind wander and forget to focus on the pleasure of an experience and the joys that life offers. We’re in danger of missing out on sublime living when we constantly prioritize what “has to be done” instead of that which is most valued. Soon, it may seem as if the stories of our lives are being written by someone else.

We forget our power to be our own storyteller and to mindfully engage in how we spend every hour. Dissatisfying tales can be replaced when we live according to a new story we write each day, called, “My life is an extraordinary adventure,” or “I relish being with my children,” or “I express love through sharing my music,” or “I am being true to myself, and that enables me to help others heal.”

The more we focus on what brings us happiness, revitalization, purpose or meaning, the easier it will be to upgrade priorities and discard any plot lines and events that seem scripted by someone else. We can then make a new commitment to writing and living a more satisfying story for ourselves. We can pause to contemplate our power to be the storyteller and to always remain fully present and conscious of the sublime moments.

Carl Greer, Ph.D., Psy.D., is a practicing clinical psychologist, Jungian analyst and shamanic practitioner. He teaches at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago and is on staff at the Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being. Connect at

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