Much has been said about "living in the
moment." Virtually every spiritual teacher
throughout history has suggested this solution. In
fact, this may be one of the oldest and wisest pieces of
advice for living a happier life. Yet, despite all
the emphasis on this advice, very few people seem able to
implement this critical principle in their daily
lives. I believe this seemingly simple concept
is so elusive because the untrained mind is much like a
puppy--it wanders off without realizing where it's
going! Before long, the puppy (like our thoughts)
gets away from us.
Of the five principles discussed in this book, this is the
one your therapist is least likely to have shared with
you. After all, much of therapy is spent discussing
your childhood and other issues surrounding your
past. And while you can certainly gain some insight
into your present life by understanding your past, doing
so is almost always taken to excess. Keeping your
attention riveted to the past (or future) can become an
insidious habit that's difficult to break. Many
therapists actually encourage their clients to live in the
past (or in the future), without realizing they are doing
so and certainly with no intended harm.
ever been in therapy, you are undoubtedly familiar with
the practice of encouraging a client to "reexperience"
the past. Therapists prompt clients--sometimes harshly--to
focus on, think about, and most frequently, discuss in
great detail the past. This is done instead
of teaching clients how to bring their attention back to
the here and now--the only way to experience true
happiness. In addition to focusing on the past,
clients are encouraged to "get in touch with"
the negative feelings that accompany their negative
thoughts of the past. . . .
When your attention is primarily in the present moment,
the bulk of your experience comes from a place of wisdom
rather than reactivity. Although you will feel
content when you focus on the present moment, you won't
repress or deny anything that's truly relevant. The
thoughts and memories you need to grow as a person
(even the painful ones) will surface at the appropriate
time: when you have the ability to handle them and
the inner resources to know what to do with the
information you receive. Wisdom is like a built-in
emotional monitor. It helps you keep your bearings
and your perspective. It directs you toward
happiness without encouraging you to pretend that things
are different than they actually are. Wisdom does
allow for negativity, but only when it's necessary and
appropriate--a far cry from the negativity typically
generated in a therapy session.
The only way to experience genuine and lasting
contentment, satisfaction, and happiness is to learn to
live your life in the present moment. Regardless of
your past experiences, the specifics of your current
circumstances, how much you analyze your past or speculate
about your future, you will never be happy until you learn
to live in the present moment. A mind that is
"out of the moment" is fertile ground for worry,
anxiety, regret, and guilt. This doesn't mean that
every moment of your life should (or ever will) be spent
focused in this moment, only that it is important that
this occurs more often than not. . . .
Thoreau said, "Above all, we can not afford to not
live in the present. He is blessed over all mortals
who loses no moment of passing life in remembering the
past." I couldn't agree more. I think
you'll find that mastering this principle is remarkably
simple. It just takes a little practice.
Beginning today, start observing where your thoughts are
focused. Are you engaged in what you are doing right
now? Or, have your thoughts drifted toward the
future or the past? You'll probably catch yourself
drifting away dozens, even hundreds, of times a day.
Don't worry. Pretty soon, this number will diminish
substantially. You'll discover that when you are
engaged in this moment, you'll feel happy and
satisfied. This positive reinforcement will give you
the faith to continue your practice.
they can only be
happy when their
problems are solved,
and goals are achieved.
This timeless book
guides readers through
life's challenges and
restores the joy of
living along the way.