I don’t think anyone would ever claim this is a saying of any great profundity or depth but yesterday someone said it and the truth of it really stopped me in my tracks. There really is no time like the present. In fact – you could say that the present is the only time there is.
The present is the only time we can experience true connection with others, the only time we can access our innate qualities of wellbeing (love, peace of mind, resilience, clarity of thought). We instinctively know this and I would suggest we come back to our favourite hobbies again and again because it is in doing these activities we are able to bring ourselves into the present moment where these built-in qualities are available. So why, as adults, do we spend so much of our time either dwelling on the past or worrying about the future?
As Byron Katie says ‘Since the past is unreal and the future is unreal, all your thoughts are about nothing’.
The answer will be different for everyone. We are always behaving in a way that makes sense to us given our current level of understanding. I used to think that peace of mind was ‘out there’ in the future so it made sense that I was often impatient to move on to the next thing. Once I came to see that it was all there within me (and always had been), it made less sense to be always moving on to the next thing. Rumination was another of my go-to emotions – which again made sense when I believed my peace of mind depended on the approval of others – ‘I wish I hadn’t said that’, ‘I think I offended that person…’. Again, now that I know I can still be ok even if someone doesn’t approve of me, it makes less sense to ruminate over the past in the way I did previously.
Before I sound like I’m claiming to be the Dalai Lama I should point out that I am not immune to falling back into these old ways. I will probably ruminate over whether this is getting too personal for LinkedIn for a while. I will no doubt get impatient when battling to get the children to bed later. But neither emotion will take a grip like it used to and I’ll be able to return to the present far quicker than I used to.
What takes you away from the present moment and why does that make sense to you at this moment? I’d love to hear.