In the past few years I have come to see the wisdom in living in the present. Three reasons to live in the now are:
- Enjoyment: There is joy in the now
- Clarity: You can think clearest in the now -and-
- the Anxiety Vacuum: There is rarely any anxiety in the now.
First, enjoyment. There’s an old story psychologists tell about the child that has too many toys in front of him. The child will take a while to find one to play with and sometimes never pick one at all. This is true with us and our fun stuff in life. We have things on our mind we used to have and that we wish we had. These can be material or immaterial things as well. Of course, unless it’s in the now in front of us, it is all immaterial.
By limiting our choices of what to do with our thoughts, emotions and time to the now, we make enjoying life simpler. In the psychologists story, the same child when given only 2 or 3 toys to play with selects one more quickly and seems to enjoy himself much more in the limitation of choices. This is true with us when we limit ourselves to enjoy our choices in the now. All you have as a choice right now is all you will ever have. Make your choice and enjoy!
Second, clarity. On the heels of enjoyment in the child analogy, comes clarity. When the now is the only place to look, things become easier to see and easier to choose. If I am worried about what the past might say or what the future might think all the time, I am far more laden with concern than if I am concerned only with the now. Animals are 100% in the now. Think about them them at the zoo (if you’ve ever been, if not try the Discovery channel). They yawn and bask in the sun without a care in the world, until they become hungry or feel another need arise. Animals can teach us what living in the now is. There is still some chance for confusion, but living in the now enables the most clarity of perspective as opposed to dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Are you having troubles now? Chances are the answer is no. Troubles yesterday, tomorrow? Maybe. So why dwell on it. Let me let you in on a little secret you may not have thought about . . . **tomorrow will be today in a few hours and this stuff applies the same then!**
Last, the anxiety vacuum. I have heard it said that anxiety is largely made up of thoughts about the future and the past. When we STOP in life and meditate on the now, we inevitably realize that we have it better than we thought. The impending things disappear because they are not part of our now reality. The regrets and hard lessons of our past fade away when we focus on the hour, minute, second we are now in. Living in the now is an anxiety vacuum. If you can make it happen mentally, you might not need that medication you’ve been prescribed. Of course, sometimes it is medically necessary but why take it if living in the now can solve the problem of your anxiety?
I can anticipate rebuttals to my post as people in general seem to be afraid of living in the now 100% (including me!) but that doesn’t mean we should ignore its value. Of course we should consider the past. It has been said that “those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.” Of course. This is what separates us from the animals. But we should not forget that we are indeed animals ourselves and that with this logical ability to analyze come the debilitating temptation to OVER analyze. Of course we should plan for our future as best we can. It’s been said as well that “if you fail to plan you plan to fail.” I agree wholeheartedly. But I would counter with the fact that we can better plan while living mentally in the now without fear of failure in the future. Our “news” will automatically become our pasts and future in turn. Learning to master the now will translate each way.
As a writer I’m trying to persuade you of something, always, be it large or minuscule. I hope by laying out the enjoyment, clarity, and anxiety vacuum above about this mindset that I have persuaded you to take a risk and live in the now. There’s too much fun to be had today.