Updated February 11, 2019
A scribbled note by Albert Einstein about his “theory of happiness” was recently sold at auction for $1.56 million! It reads: “A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.” I have to agree with Albert. As I was growing up, I understood happiness comes from the rewards of having a successful career. The notion gave me the drive and determination to attend medical school, complete residency, and live a very comfortable lifestyle—without a doubt, I was happy!
And then…my preemie arrived! The life changing moment forced me to focus on the present moment because that’s all I had–I couldn’t change the past nor could I predict her fate. Being mindful of the moment helped me to reset my priorities and discover true happiness in life’s everyday simplicities. Living in the moment has been shown to be the best way to become and stay happy. Here is why.
Can’t Change the Past
Almost every one of us has regrets about something in our past, but there is nothing we can do to change it. Instead of wasting our moments and energy in lament over situations that are long gone and no longer in our control to change, we can use the energy to make our present situation better. Learn what you can from the past, and then move on.
Can’t Predict the Future
Don’t worry about the future, because you cannot predict what it will bring. You can only prepare to a certain extent, and being fearful about what tomorrow holds will only cause stress that will contribute to health and mental problems.
Live in the moment and choose to make the present your focus. Instead of fearing what repercussions your choices will bring to your future, make decisions based on what is good in your life right now at this moment. This will reduce tendencies towards depression and fear.
Embrace Your Present
When we think more about the past or the future than the present, we drift away from what is right in front of our eyes. Maybe your present involves a work project that demands your full attention and energy. Maybe your present involves small children with runny noses who need lunch put on the table.
When you embrace your present fully, you will get more out of the life you have. You will finally be able to stop sabotaging your present joy with fear about what may come next, or the guilt of decisions that are now in the past.
Be thankful for the faces in front of you now, and for the opportunities that are knocking on your door at this very moment. The moments you learn to cherish will enhance your future with the warm memories you will carry there, and you will have no regrets over misplaced focus.
Maintain a Balanced Outlook
Living in the present is important. Having a balanced focus is important too. When you think about the future, make the plans that are necessary for you to enjoy that time later, because someday the future will be your “in the moment.” Don’t neglect your planning for the future, but don’t let it consume your life in an unhealthy way. Balance is key, and will help you not to feel stress due to too much focus on one area.
Living in the moment is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself. Happiness is achieved when we choose to live and enjoy where we are right now, instead of pining away for another time and place. By utilizing the time and the life you are given right here and now, you will know true happiness.
Call to Action: How can you balance planning for the future and living in the moment?