An older couple, Shirley and Rick, planned what they thought would be one of their last vacations. Finances and aging were making their trips more difficult. They wanted to travel to southern Utah and take in the beauty of the national forests. They had heard from a number of friends about the majesty of the arches and splendor of the earth’s color in that part of the country. As the day of departure neared, Shirley prepared with a sense of curiosity and gratefulness for a well-earned trip. She quietly went about packing and enjoyed the process of getting ready. Her husband took a different approach. He spent his days worrying about what he was going to take, what route they were going to follow, and how much time they could spend in each place they planned to visit.

The day arrived, and Shirley made a quick check around the house, then loaded her luggage into the car. She was ready to go. As she waited, Rick ran around frantically checking and rechecking his lists to make sure everything was in order. They had planned to leave in early morning, but by the time Rick had finished his checking, it was early afternoon. Shirley sat in the car, ready and open for whatever the trip might bring. Rick stepped on the gas and complained about how they were off schedule and needed to make up time in order to get back on track and enjoy themselves at their first stop.

As the trip continued, Shirley settled in and enjoyed the view as they drove. She noticed the red sandy colors of the hills and the odd shapes of trees and bushes. She commented every now and then about a rabbit dashing across the desert or a cactus she spied by the side of the road. She found beauty all along the way. Her vacation had started. Rick, on the other hand, replied briefly to her observations and commented about the beauty yet to come. Most of the time, however, he stared at the road, troubled over the fact they still were miles from their first destination. He told himself he would relax when they got there.

Now, the point to this story was probably obvious from the moment you started reading it. But the funny thing is… it’s true. In fact, their vacation continued in the same manner, with Shirley finding beauty everywhere and Rick finding a new way to worry about what they might be missing. He couldn’t find the beauty in the moment because he was too busy waiting for it in the future. Maybe you know someone like this. Or maybe you or your partner always want to hurry up and have fun, but are too busy to have fun in the present. Maybe you are so focused on the outcome you forget about the process.

The process is what is happening now. Each moment is here to be enjoyed. And the place to find beauty is here, not sometime in the future or in some other place. It is in the cactus on the side of the road and in the dash of the rabbit across the sand. It is in the moment you are aware of what you see, hear, and sense. The goal is to find it everywhere! Find it in your partner’s eyes and in your time together. Find it in your partner’s smile and his or her walk. Find it in your partner’s touch. Find it everywhere. But most of all, if you remember to be aware and be here, it will find you.


~ Revisit a sweet memory that involves your partner. As you reflect on this memory, look for the beauty you experienced in your partner. What was it like? To what did you pay most close attention?
~ Now spend some time with your partner. Pay attention and see the beauty in your partner today.


Excerpt from THE MINDFUL COUPLE: How Acceptance and Mindfulness Can Lead You to the Love You Want (New Harbinger Publications)

Author's Bio: 

ROBYN D. WALSER, PH.D., is a psychologist with the National Center for PTSD at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. She also works as a consultant, workshop presenter, and therapist in her private business, TLConsultation Services. During her graduate studies at University of Nevada, Reno, she developed expertise in traumatic stress, substance abuse, and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

DARRAH WESTRUP, PH.D., is a clinical psychologist with the National Center for PTSD at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. She serves as attending psychologist at the Women’s Trauma Recovery Program, a ten-bed, sixty-day residential treatment program for women veterans with military-related PTSD. She is also program director of the Outpatient Women’s Mental Health Center. She has clinical and research expertise in the areas of PTSD, substance abuse, stalking behavior, and experiential avoidance as it relates to psychological dysfunction.