“Life is available only in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
We live in a goal-oriented society where we are taught from a young age to strive, to aim for targets, to set intentions, and to actively root out our imperfections. Many of us start every year with so called New Year’s Resolutions only to find out that a mere three months into the year the New Year’s Resolutions
we so enthusiastically set have fallen by the wayside.
But what if this whole approach to life is wrong? What if focusing all our energy on our imperfections with the intention of changing to become better is actually a flawed concept?
Many spiritual masters and wise teachers through the ages have stressed that being mindful and being fully present leads to a more fulfilling life than does obsessively striving to change and improve ourselves. Wayne Dyer explained it in this way: “the more I give myself permission to live in the moment and enjoy it without feeling guilty or judgmental about any other time, the better I feel about the quality of my work.”
Many times, when we get past mid-life, our perspective about things can change. When we have to begin facing life-changing illnesses or dealing with the deaths of loved ones, we start to realize that life is actually about more than analyzing ways we aren’t good enough, and delineating how to improve. We
see clearly that it is essential to be able to be simply present with what is, without the distraction of mental chatter. The truth is that life happens, despite our illusion of control. The only thing we have any control over is how we respond.
Mindfulness techniques can help us realize and embrace the concepts that life is a process we participate in rather than control, and that ultimately the best thing we can do is to set our intention to be present to what IS, rather than beating ourselves up about not being good enough and looking everywhere outside ourselves for things we can do to be better.
Instead of creating goal after goal for self-improvement, we can learn to simply look for how to do the next right thing. When we do that, we are truly living in the present.