Last updated December, 2017.
note: we link to our free guide to mindfulness and meditation at the end of this article (no email required).
Are you depending on your future self to save you?
It won't. It can't.
Your future self doesn't exist. And, it never will - it's an illusion.
The only thing that exists is you in the present moment. And, the present moment is the only time you can actually do anything.
We all fall into this trap - we think tomorrow we will be the person we always wanted to be. We think tomorrow we will do the things we need to do:
We refer to this process as tomorrowing yourself to the end of your life.
Now is the only moment you can live.
This sounds like a motivational platitude, right? Reality is, it's the most basic truth you can encounter:
But, our minds use tomorrow as an escape from today. The present moment turns into a stepping stone to some future time when you'll finally do what you need to do, have what you need to have, and be who you want to be.
The mind does this so often that we become disconnected from "now," which means we don't take action in the only time we actually can (a condition known as procrastinating). And, if you don't take action in the present moment, you'll be in a constant state of anxiety (also known as the effects of procrastinating).
Your mind perpetuates this cycle. It tells you that happiness, success, and fulfillment lie at some point down the road. When you reach that point, however, you always find your mind has pushed it farther down the road.
You are being led around like a donkey following a carrot that is just out of reach.
Objections and excuses.
Many people argue that being present means you can't plan or have goals. But these people confuse planning with dwelling and ruminating.
Plan. Take action. Evaluate and adjust. And, do it all mindfully in the only time you can do it - now. That's different than getting wrapped up in mental drama about projected outcomes, and if/when scenarios about things happening or not happening.
When it comes to dwelling and ruminating, there is another important factor to note: it uses your finite time and energy, which could otherwise be allocated to executing your plans more effectively.
You've probably heard a version of the saying "The journey is the destination." This implies that your attention and focus should be on the present moment, not on some future point that promises happiness.
You can’t make your happiness reliant on something you need to do, change, or acquire, because there will always be something you need to do, change, or acquire.
Instead, learn to be happy now. If you have a plan or goal and achieve it, be happy. If you have a plan or goal and don’t achieve it, still be happy because you put forth your best efforts.
The question that's usually asked is "How do you live in the present moment?" This question should be changed, however, to "How do I keep my mind from pulling me out of the present moment?"
The answer is simple: you strengthen awareness of your compulsive mind and the non-stop mental noise it produces. You learn to notice it all without getting caught up in it. When you see that your mind is pulling you away from "now," return your attention to the present moment.
Do it over and over and over again. It takes practice, because you are reversing a lifetime of conditioning. With practice, however, you'll get better at it.
And, as you get better at it, you realize that happiness isn't over the horizon. It's right here and now.
Many of the concepts above are related to mindfulness and meditation. We have a free guide that will teach you how to do it (and, tell you why you should). You don't need to register or provide any information - just go read it.
Every experience you will ever have is shaped by your mind. And, your mind has a bigger impact on your overall health and well-being than any other factor in your life. It quite literally determines the quality of your existence (read more...)