The Power of the Present Moment
Monday, August 3, 2015 - Author: Adrian
For many people, life has become a sort of game, a race to the top where the winner holds the most material wealth, or the most gadgets. Our society has placed so much importance on material acquisition that the newest technology is interchangeable, or more often, more important than being truly happy. Coupled with our material obsession, we tend to dwell on the past to look for reasons why we aren't happy now, or stare into the future to see what promise it might bring. This generation's biggest problem is the lack of ability to exist in, and be aware of, the present moment.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to understanding the present moment is understanding that it is not a static thing; it is constantly evolving and is as alive as you or I. This challenges our mind to think in an ever-changing way instead of having fixed reference points. This change in mentality is easier for some people. If your goal in life is the accrual of material wealth, changing to this thought process could be harder; being present cannot be measured in dollars and cents.
So, what's the benefit of remaining in the moment, especially if it's going to be such a challenge? It might sound a bit cliché, but true happiness, peace, and tranquility. When you allow your mind to experience the present moment and put all of your faculties towards that aim, you are alive in the truest sense. Keeping yourself in the present moment grounds you in the reality of who you are at that point in time. This includes who you have been in every moment before that, and the possibilities of who you can be in every moment after. When you take the time to be in the moment, you get to fully know yourself and appreciate everything that you are.
One of the biggest distractions to staying in the present is the fear of the future. Concerns for the future are more complex, as there's not such a specific situation to cause anxiety, but more of a general fear, a "what-if" scenario. While it is realistic to acknowledge that there will be obstacles in life, staying in the present will be much more useful to solving your current problems. If you are not anxious about what could happen, you are better able to tackle challenges down the road.
Another distraction to staying in the present is the pain of reliving past failures or embarrassments. These can stick in your psyche for a long time, creating anxiety and self-doubt in the present moment. They are also unpredictable, as nearly any given situation can trigger the memory. The most important thing to remember is to forgive yourself and know if you had not had that experience, you would not be the person you are now. A bad past experience is usually only as important as we make it to be; what you would call a total failure might not be as bad as you thought. Whatever the case may be, everyone can learn something from these moments and use them as tools in the future.
True happiness is defined by each one of us, so no one but you can decide whether you are or are not happy. Typically, it is the pursuit of that socially defined happiness that causes the most stress. This is because society typically favors only material wealth, which is always growing to include faster cars, larger houses, shinier jewels, etc. This changes a person's goal from experiencing satisfaction to merely pursuing it. The irony is that happiness is usually found once you stop chasing it.
Keeping your mind in the present moment allows you to live purely, fully engaged in every action you make. If you are able to keep your mental faculties completely aware at every moment, your decision-making process becomes unfettered. Everyday stress won't accumulate if you see each obstacle in the present and handle it accordingly. Sometimes that means dealing with an issue right then and there, or maybe letting it go for a while. Often times we are so pressured to have an immediate result that just the thought of having to handle a task creates more stress than the task itself. Staying in the present moment helps to reduce that urgency because you understand that the time for resolution will come, and when it does you will be prepared.
When you are living in the moment, you are able to appreciate the now. Every day brings with it new possibilities and if you are more mindful in each moment, it can be much easier to notice new opportunities all around you. These aren't always huge, life-changing instances; it could be something as simple as seeing the sunrise in a new place, or noticing something about a person you love that you had never seen before. Every time you can tweak your perspective you are able to see things as you had not before, and teach yourself to think in new ways.
Over all, keeping yourself in the present moment is the most mentally active way to live. You will think more purposefully and be more able to handle your emotions when under pressure. With your stress reduced, you are better able to make decisions and just enjoy the moment as it is. And remember it's okay if your mind wanders back and forth sometimes. That's only natural, after all no one is perfect. Just take a few deep breaths and focus on what is happening right in front of you. So go on, live your life in the now!