Yellow airplane resting in a field of green grass

When I started training for my pilot license, I was amazed at how I felt after a flight ended. If I ever lifted off from a bleak world, one drained of color from life’s challenges, I always landed in a revived landscape, bright and vivid. No matter what mood I’d been in before the flight, a lightheartedness afterward kept my feet hovering an inch above the earth for the rest of the day.

At first I thought flying to be a magical elixir. If everyone could float in that mystical well of blue sky and peer down on the greens and golds where most of us spent our days, all would find their stress left on the ground. But then my perspective shifted. I began to think the euphoria sprang instead from the fact I’d started to fulfill a lifelong dream. I’d leapt off life’s bench to get into the game.

Both were valid in their own ways, but now I know something else altogether had been the primary reason flying had made my stress melt away: for that hour I spent in the air learning to fly, I lived in the moment. No thinking about work. No worrying about bills. No scanning a to-do list to check off the next item. While I concentrated on flying that plane, I couldn’t fret about my future or regret a long gone past. And that, to actually live, made life sweeter. We don’t truly live when we stay stuck in our heads.

What activity thrusts you into the moment so your troubles get pushed behind? Figure that out, then do it often.

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