People are so dependent on the concept of the future, they forget how to live in the now.
Happiness is so often sacrificed in the present for some nebulous future time, when the stars align just right and all things will be well. click to tweet
Here are some examples I’m sure you’ve heard:
“I’ll be so happy when I’m out of university!”
“I can hardly wait to get married; I’ll be happy then”
“I’ll be over the moon when I get this great job”
“I’ll be so happy when I get to retire from this lousy job”
There are two problems with this kind of living and thinking. It denies us happiness right now, and makes the now seem like some sort of grim prison where things aren’t happy, aren’t good enough.
That kind of thinking also makes our happiness reliant on some future event coming true. Perhaps it’s modern society that’s helped us all become this way. We seem to live for the big payoffs, the peak experiences that are fleeting.
I can remember how exciting it was to graduate from university. For a little while, I was floating. Then came the inevitable crash. I was done with my undergraduate studies, but next was post-grad. Four more years of study and drudgery (or that was my thinking).
It’s a bit mad, isn’t it? To actually defer the opportunity to be happy until a nebulous point in time, based on a contingency that might not come true. Still, it’s how most of us live life. This manner of existing is in direct contradiction to mindful awareness and concepts of reduced stress and worry.
We’re so much better served by observing the moment, enjoying the now, and giving ourselves permission to live joyfully in the present. Click to tweet
I’ve heard more than a few young people (teenagers, mostly) say, “What’s special about right now? It’s the same thing as always. Nothing’s going on.”
I rarely have the heart to tell them that if you miss out on finding joy in the present, then the rest of their lives will seem like a party that never got started, a perpetual waiting game with them as the loser.
Of course we should have goals and work towards them, and enjoy every second of accomplishing tasks great and small. However, every moment we’re alive has joy in it.
Learning how to be mindful of that joy—how to see it, feel it—is not the easiest thing for a member of modern society to do, but it can be done! Stick with me for more.