Where is Your Happiness? Past, Present, or Future??
Achieving a level of personal happiness previously unknown is closer than you think. Much closer. But first, it’s important to stay in touch with the present.
“Stay in touch with the present? I’m thinking…I’m already IN the present!”
Well, certainly we all are in the present, since there is nowhere else to be, but that doesn’t mean our thoughts are in the present. And therein lay the challenges to our own personal happiness.
We as humans are the rarest of all species in that not only can we think, but we can think about our thinking.
And you can use this process of being aware of your self-thoughts to help you achieve contentment. It’s important for you to challenge what you see and believe. This insures that your view of the world matches reality. So often what we believe is the truth, is nothing more than glimpses of the past, present, and future.
We often take only the bad from the past, quickly breeze through the present, and falsely make up the future. The result is frequently guilt about your imperfect past, anxiety about a future that doesn’t exist, and impatience with the Now.
But it is the Now which can help us to live our lives today, fully alive, happy and content.
To prove the value of the present to yourself, try this:
Take a moment and sit in a comfortable place and observe.
What do you see? Describe the images around you.
What sounds are there? How many can you hear?
Can you smell different smells? (Some are pleasant, some maybe not!)
Tell yourself how the surfaces around you feel, the chair, the rug under your feet, the tightness or looseness of your clothing.
And finally, what tastes are apparent in your mouth?
Take a few minutes and reconnect with the world as you experience it in the now.
If you are like most people, what you experienced is a wonderful feeling of aliveness. Rarely do we allow ourselves the opportunity to enjoy the moment. But the moment is the only reality we know. It is exactly the way it should be and it cannot be anything more than that.
But we repeatedly make it out to be different. And by doing so, we have lost the opportunity to fully experience the rain, the children playing, the learning to be achieved by listening to the world seen through a grandparent’s eyes, or a friend sharing one of his or her own moments. Too often we are too caught up in what will happen, or what has happened, to experience what IS happening.
This is not to say that planning for the future is unimportant, or that reminiscing is not useful and enjoyable in itself. But unfortunately, too often we become entangled in a future that has not happened and become stifled by our predictions.
We run from the saber tooth tiger that no longer exists in our modern day world. The tiger has been replaced with confronting a friend, giving a speech, driving over a bridge, or feeling discomfort from changing a habit. We create absolute horror from an uncertain future that we make real in the moment.
Staying in the moment awards you the opportunity to see the world as it is, not as you believe it should be. It allows you to observe the truth, to look at real data, not information couched in fears and anxiety.
And it is this truth, which will allow you to enjoy yourself, others, and the world around you. Because, it is exactly as it should be. You can manage any life event that presents itself. Why?? Because everyone does. You can choose to do it with pain or without pain. The evidence for these statements is present in the moment.
Dr. David L. Thomas, LMHC