Life isn’t waiting for you. It isn’t all set out in the calendar of life. Life is happening to you right now: in the here and now. Things are happening right now. There are opportunities arriving, as if they were trains arriving at your station. But beware! They may never stop there again! Don’t put off till tomorrow the happiness you deserve today. We need to learn to live in the here and now.
This message, which is, in itself, both inspiring and successful, contains a nuance that we may not have thought of before. Most of us know that the best opportunities happen right now, however, we don’t always see them. Or, even worse, we don’t feel prepared for them; we lack courage, the courage to cross that line of fear.
So, what is the reason for this indecision, or the “blindness” to see the doors that open every day before us? The answer lies in our cultural legacy, in how we were raised, and in the perspective that we have been taught. In this way, almost since our childhood, people have convinced us that there is a place waiting for us where we will be happy. A day will come, they tell us, when, based on our efforts, confidence and desire to excel, we will achieve that goal we have so desired.
These may be true for some people. However, if there is one thing that characterizes the world around us, it is uncertainty. Sometimes, those who strive the most do not always get what they want. Those who strive the most to “sow” are often the ones who end up harvesting the least. In essence, many of us spend half our lives waiting for “something” that will never happen. In this way we “dilute” our hopes and expectations waiting eternally for the answers to our dreams.
Let us, therefore, dare to apply a new strategy. Let’s stop focusing on the future, and let’s learn to live in the here and now a little more. Let’s invest in a here and now full of quality, by opening our eyes, our mind and our heart to receive just what we need.
Appreciate the here and now and invest in happiness
For many, clinging on to what is happening in the here and now is an irresponsible way of living. To answer that question, we need to understand that to live in the here and now doesn’t mean we have to adopt a hedonistic vision of life, in which we are only capable of enjoying the moment, as if there were no tomorrow. In fact, the opposite is true. By living life to the full in the present, we are also investing in the future.
Paul Auster expressed it well when he said that people must learn to live in the here and now, because “it doesn’t matter who you were today if you are clear about who you are now“. This is the key: in knowing who we are today, remembering where we are, what we need and where we want to go. A very common type of patient that psychologists treat in their clinics on a daily basis are the ones who are “disconnected” from themselves and from the here and now.
Facing the “threats”
There are many people who, when they experience a difficult sensation, or a complex or problematic emotion, simply interpret these events as “threats”. When they have categorized them in that way, they then choose to look the other way. They console themselves by saying that “tomorrow will be another day”, “tomorrow I will feel better” or “time heals everything”.
This is a very limiting attitude, and all they do is pile up conflicts and frustrations for themselves, as if someone were continually throwing heavy weights on their shoulders. They elude all the responsibility they should have towards themselves, without realizing that whoever attends to their emotions in the here and now invests intelligently in their happiness.
Train your mind to live in the here and now
Our mind is sometimes like a hyperactive child traveling by car. It needs a toy, something to do, something to look at, to think about, to digress, to worry about, and even to become obsessed with. Our thoughts never stop and most of them are focused on the immediate future. We are like that little one in the car asking that infamous question, “Are we nearly there yet?”
We forget that life is not a destination; life is a journey. There are moments and experiences to enjoy in a here and now that often escapes us. One way to improve our approach, to slow the car down a little, and enjoy views a bit more, is to practice mindfulness. To achieve this, we must train our mind through appropriate strategies. Let’s look at some examples.
Practice mindfulness, appreciate the here and now
- Apply the following affirmation on a daily basis: to live is to do the best we can with what we have at any given moment.
- A calm mind is synonymous with a clearer life. To reach this state of internal balance it may be helpful to practice meditation, yoga or deep breathing.
- Do not leave for tomorrow the worries you have today. Any complex emotion, anxiety or problem must be resolved when we feel them.
- Work on your focus, pay attention to everything you do, to what is surrounding you at this very moment. Avoid multitasking.
- Go walking every day, for at least half an hour in a beautiful setting.
- Practice gratitude, appreciate everything you have and everything around you.
- Learn to listen better.
- Eat without haste, enjoy every bite and every flavour.
- Share quality time with your loved ones.
- Practice hobbies that you find interesting and that awaken your creativity.
To conclude, learning to live in the here and now requires first of all a strong will and secondly a desire to work on it on a daily basis. Nobody can change their focus just from one week to the next. But when we put our mind to it then we will learn to appreciate much more what really exists: what we can touch, feel and enjoy, the here and now.