Some people live in the past, others live in the future, but only those living in the present are truly alive.
How we live our lives to some extent is outside of our control, but there are many things we can do to live better, one of which is living in the present moment.
Now is the most crucial time because it is the only time that is real. It is also the only time we can directly affect, so our actions now will always have an impact. Being present also ensures we don’t worry about the past or stress about the future. Being present is the best way to find peace.
If you find yourself getting trapped in the future or past, keep reading as we will talk about why the present is so important.
Why is the present important?
The only time that is truly real is right now. So much of our time is spent worrying about past mistakes or stressing about what our futures will bring. But the reality is that we can’t do anything about the past or future because they are only concepts within our minds.
While it is true that we have lived through our past and will live through our futures, neither of those times exist as something distinct; instead, they were are just different variants of now. At the same time, we shouldn’t forget about the past; it was a meaningful experience that we can learn from.
Equally valid, the future will come, and we should prepare as best as possible, but it will never be anything different from now.
The problem with the past is that it no longer is something we can do anything about it. Surely we can learn from our mistakes and make amends, but we can never go back. Even worse, if we spend too much time thinking about the past, we will forget about the present and its opportunities.
Equally true, the future will never come, so if we continuously think about it, our attention won’t be in the here and now; instead, it will be in the clouds. And while we can’t predict the future, we can prepare for it, but we shouldn’t let that get in the way of what is happening right now.
It is important to focus our attention on the present rather than getting caught up in things that we can’t control or do anything about. Putting our attention where it has the most utility will also have the most significant benefits for our wellbeing.
Again, you can’t change the past, and the future is unknown, but the present, you can do something about that right now.
The present is important because it is where we are, and all our power lies in the now, so it is the only thing we can change. We can’t change what we did yesterday, but if we find ourselves in a similar situation, we can make a different decision if we allow ourselves to be present in the present moment.
Why do we need to be present in the here and now?
The only way to make the best possible decisions is by being present. When we are caught up in the future or past, it clouds our ability to see what is happening right now. If you were hurt in the past, you might fear that happening again, but you might also miss out on an opportunity now that the situation is different.
While our previous experiences can help inform our actions right now, too much focus on the past prevents us from seeing what is happening.
Much of our attention is often in another place, so we can’t see what is occurring on its own. Instead, we see layers of things that have happened in the past.
We only ever have a limited amount of cognitive resources, so every time our mind is on something else, it takes away those resources from where they can be used most effectively. If you are taking an important test or working on a critical project, you want all your attention to be there, as that is the best way to put your best foot forward and avoid unnecessary mistakes.
So often, while I am out, I see people looking at their phones while they are supposed to be having family time. And while we are all addicted to our phones, they prevent us from being present when it matters most. Time with our children is always precious, even if we don’t realize it while it is happening; this will be especially true when they grow older and are too busy for us.
Regardless of what you are avoiding by not being present, you will never be putting your best foot forward.
And while that might sound like a cliche, it kind of is; our efforts go further when we are focused on what we are doing. As an aside, I can always make the most progress when focusing on only one thing. Ask yourself, is that the same for you?
We need to be present in the here and now because that is the only way to do our best. With our social interactions or our work, we can do our best when we focus and not worry about things outside of our control.
Practicing mindfulness and being present in the moment
If you have ever tried mindfulness meditation, you will know what it is like to be present in the moment. While doing this type of meditation, we are asked to focus on our body and our breathing in particular. This focused attention helps us drop everything else and put our awareness on the present.
When we meditate, our minds tend to go to other places; I know that my mind is always rushing to things that have happened or need to be done. The important lesson here is that we don’t have so much control over where our minds go; they often do what they do independently.
But that is the benefit or purpose of mindful mediation; it shows us that our minds are constantly jumping all over the place, but we can learn to calm it down a little with practice.
The more we work on mindfulness, the easier it is to be present in the moment, which is always the most important place to be.
Meditation is preparation for the worst day of your life.Same Harris
As Sam Harris says, “Meditation is preparation for the worst day of your life.” He means that while meditation helps us focus on the here and now, we will benefit greatly when a lot is going on, and we need to calm our minds down.
Being in the here and now is always essential, but it will make a massive difference in high-stress situations that don’t happen all that often.
Find peace by being present.
The world is a fantastic place, and great things are happening all the time, but we have forgotten to pay attention for some reason. Most likely, this is happening because we are lost in our pasts or worrying about the future. However, we can’t do anything about those times, so focusing on the here and now is better.
When we focus on the here and now, we have the opportunity to appreciate all that is before us.
If you are busy, the sunset might not mean much, but it is pretty beautiful if you can take the time to appreciate it. And in some ways, that is what life is all about, enjoying the simple things and finding joy in the present.
To make the best decisions and live your most meaningful life, you need to focus on the present. Happiness and joy are so much easier if you can take in what is happening without fear or worry, so try to do what you can to be present, it will be worth it in the long run.