Past, Present or Future?
Someone recently said to me “Happiness lies in the now.” This sentiment struck me as I have been striving to become more mindful, more tuned into the here and now.
And I wondered, does happiness really lie in the “now”?
After thinking about this for a few days I have decided that contentment does live in the “now.” And I think contentment lends itself to happiness. I have also concluded that there is less stress when you focus on the “now.” This is because, for me, worrying about all the things that might happen, cause me the greatest amount of stress. So, less stress, by focusing on the “now,” seems to lend itself to happiness. Finally, I also think gratitude is more easily felt when you slow down and focus on the “now”. The older I get, the more it seems that gratitude is the real secret to life. So maybe it does follow that happiness does really reside in the “now.”
I have come to the realization I am very much a person who thinks in future tense. I am constantly focused on what is coming next. I am always planning the next step, examining possibilities, putting together contingencies and exit plans from my current location in space and time. Other people I know are past tense people – they are stuck living in a world framed by past victories and past hurts. But a few people in my acquaintance are the lucky ones; people who think, and live, in the present.
Very few adults are naturally that way. These “lucky ones” have re-trained themselves to live this way.
I am convinced that we are born living in present tense.
Infants and young children live in the here and now. Hurts and disappointments are let go quickly, joys are fully experienced, the magic of the moment is expected. As we age we quickly learn or are taught to be planners, to think in a future tense. While these skills serve a purpose, we risk missing our own lives, and our own potential, if we are not careful.
I have talked about meditating for years. I have dabbled with the practice on and off many times. I am a prayerful person, but mediation is something different I am finding. It is whole different focus, a whole different brain state. And I think I am finally understanding that, for me, mediation is about taking time to get my focus into the here and now, to be open and aware of what is happening around me. To be aware of time with my family. To be aware of what I am eating and how I am treating my body. To let go of past hurts, failures or temporary definitions of what I could and could not do.
To be “present tense.”