Finding happiness in life is living in the present moment, neither grieving over the past nor being anxious about the future. This is because life unfolds in the present.
Living in the present moment—or “mindfulness,” as others call it—is a state of active, open, intentional, and (most important) nonjudgmental attention or awareness of the present.
But, more often than not, we let the present slip away, as we worry about the future and ruminate about the past. At work, many of us find ourselves fantasizing about being on vacation, and, while on vacation, we worry about work piling up on our desks. We dwell on intrusive memories of the past or fret about what may or may not happen in the future.
Choosing to live in the past or the future not only robs you of enjoyment today, it also robs you of truly living.
How do we go about living in the present moment? Here are some tips:
Appreciate and savor the moments of today. Relish or luxuriate in the real aspects of today—the sights, the sounds, the emotions, the triumph, the joy and the sorrow.
Forgive past hurts. Acknowledge what happened. Let go of any grudge or resentment for your “own sake,” and move forward.
Appreciate your work or what you’re regularly doing. With your job, be it at your home or your workplace, if you feel just having “survived” the workweek by just waiting for the weekend to come, you’re probably wasting some 70% (5/7 days) of your life. If you don’t find yourself in your work or in what you’re doing, you’re missing your “presence” in the moment.
Stop worrying about the future; do your best and enjoy today. Don’t be anxious about the future. It will come according to how you handle the present. Work hard, enjoy, and make the most of the present, because a successful tomorrow is a well-done and happily spent today.
But still, others are wont to complain: “How can we live in or savor the present when it is the present that is problematic, filled with pain, anxiety, and uncertainty?
Here’s a wise piece of advice: If something unpleasant is bothering you in the present, move toward it rather than away from it.
The mind’s natural tendency when faced with pain is to attempt to avoid it. But in many cases, negative feelings and situations can’t be avoided—and resisting them only magnifies the pain.
Thus, the solution in trying to live in a painful present is acceptance—that is, being open to the way things are in the moment without trying to manipulate or change the experience, judging it, clinging to it, or pushing it away.
Acceptance of the present moment is neither solving nor taking away the problem, but it relieves you of needless extra suffering. Acceptance of an unpleasant moment is not giving up on your goals or dreams. It is accepting the present loss or drawback. But it should not deter you from trying again or continuing to pursue your dream.
In sum, living in the present is embracing both the joy and sorrow of the moment. Continue to learn, grow, and experience one moment at a time. Live in the present and make it beautiful, because a meaningful life is made up of well-spent moments.
Bob Acebedo writes a column in OpinYon weeklies (https://opinyon.net). —Ed.