The Present Is the Only Thing That Counts

The Present Is the Only Thing That Counts
Sergio De Dios González

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Living in the present moment is an idea we are all aware of, but that very few of us ever really put into practice because we spend so much time hurrying, working, stressing and the like.

Only when we’re sick or faced with an adverse situation are we conscious of the here and now, our present. That present which we ignore without even realizing.

“Don’t linger on the past, don’t dream of the future, focus your mind on the present.”
Gautama Buddha

But, sacrificing our present to think about the future keeps us from enjoying our “here and now.” This “here and now” that constitutes everything that your life means, where all the potential for happiness lies.

Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today

It’s one of the most well-known proverbs and maybe you’ve even put it into practice at some point. But, how long did it last? Surely, just a day or two.

Hurrying, stress and always thinking of the future keeps us from looking at our present moment and seeing what we’ve accomplished so far. It keeps us from enjoying our accomplishments, and forces us to always look outside ourselves.

girl jumping at the beach

While it’s true that the present only lasts an instant. A minute that already passed can be considered the past and the minute we’re heading towards is our future. All we really have is now.

Time is ephemeral, and it’s hard to get a taste of it. The funny thing is that we give more importance to our past and our future than our own present. That which passes so quickly before our own eyes, so much so that we don’t even notice it.

We’re used to looking at where we’re going to step, instead of focusing on the steps themselves. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t think about our past or our future. The past can help us learn and progress. And the future can help us reach our goals, motivate us and dream with our desires. But, where does that leave the present?

Value your present, just like your past and your future

Avoiding the present is something we do unconsciously. That’s how we’ve been taught, and that’s why we ignore it without even noticing. But, why do we do it?

Instead of living in the now, we idealize the future, that future that we’re always thinking about, heading towards, but we always see as something really far away. We think about an idealized future, almost like a dream that will never be real.

As we already mentioned, the future is that minute, that hour that’s about to arrive. Thinking about the future as something far away and idealized is a way of escaping a present that we’re not content with.

Why do we think that what’s further down the road will always be better? Because everyone thinks that way, but does it work?

Make sure to not idealize the future, because maybe when it arrives you’ll be surprised by disappointment. You’ll think “This is it?” Your future will be a disappointing dream that will never satisfy you.

bike and balloons

Because once you achieve that goal, you’ll continue thinking about tomorrow and the day after that and so on. You’ll forever try to see further beyond, when you should look at the steps you’re currently taking.

What advice should you keep in mind in order to focus on today and not tomorrow?

  • If you wish to do something, do it now. Whether it’s a trip, changing your job, turning your life around. Don’t think that tomorrow will be better than today. If you’re sure about something, don’t think about it, just do it! 
  • Don’t think about what could happen. Enjoy what you have now. What will happen, will happen!
  • Be realistic with your present and don’t idealize an imaginary future. If you want to achieve something in the future, you should do it in your present now.
  • The right moment is always now!

Would you add any other piece of advice? If there’s something you want in life, don’t think about whether you could have done it in the past or if you’ll make it happen some other day. The present is what counts, don’t allow your life to pass before your very eyes without any meaning.

The secret to giving your life meaning is taking action. Don’t dream about your life passing you by. Actions are what counts, the here and now is what you should be thinking about.

The contents of Exploring Your Mind are for informational and educational purposes only. They don't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment of a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.