It’s a New Year… and I know lots of people with BIG plans for their lives…
Big plans, big goals, and big dreams. And that’s pretty natural — as achievers, we’re always pushing the envelope and looking to create more.
You know what’s not so common, though?
Thinking smaller — thinking about this second. Right now.
Living in the Present.
That’s one of my personal resolutions in 2018.
From my teenage years, I’ve been a long-range planner. When in middle school, plan for high school. In high school, plan for university. In university, plan for grad school. In grad school, plan for a professorial career. And when I started my business several years ago, it was quarterly plans, 1-year plans, 5-year plans, 10-year plans. Big goals. Big plans. Big thinking.
Sure, that helped me attain the lifestyle I enjoy today.
But actually, all this big planning ironically made it harder to enjoy life in the only time frame it’s ever experienced — right now.
In the PRESENT.
You see, biological necessity — the fact that we’re evolved for survival and reproduction — makes our thoughts point in that direction naturally, so that thoughts about the future inflame hope and fear.
Also, the future is unknown to us, so when we think about it, we think of unrealities.
The future is, much more than the past or present, the root of all vice states.
Gratitude looks to the past, and love to the present.
Fear, greed, envy, and anxiety look ahead.
To be sure, it’s helpful to plan for the future from time to time — just so much as is necessary.
But over-planning is just as harmful as living irresponsibly without any plans at all.
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” — Mike Tyson
“Life is what is happening to us while we are making other plans.” — J.R.R. Tolkien
The ideal state is someone who, having worked all day in flow for the good of posterity (if that’s his job), lets go of the pressures of the work when he’s done, and returns immediately to the gratitude or present enjoyment of the moment that is passing over him…
Instead of a man stressed by the future — dependent for his happiness on the success or failure of schemes whose end he will not live to see.
Most people live their whole lives perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never brave, nor kind, nor happy NOW… but always putting off into the Future all the gratitude, appreciation, or enjoyment offered them in the Present.
One last warning about the phrase “living in the present”…
It’s all good unless… the person’s untroubled about the future not because he’s immersed in the present, but because he’s persuaded himself that the future is going to be all positive.
As long as that’s the real reason for his tranquility, he’s still fvcked… because it’s only piling up more disappointment, and thus more anxiety, for him when his false hopes are dashed.
If, however, you are aware that tough challenges, pitfalls, and losses may be in store for you — and you’re training now to do your best come what may — and meanwhile living as much as you can in the Present because there, and there alone, all pleasure, all grace, all joy, and all love dwell…
Well then, you’ll have the greatest gift in life, my friend.
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