“Living in the moment” is a very broad phrase and nearly every person would agree to be living in this very moment if asked. And there would be nothing wrong about affirming the question as everyone of us is living in this very moment – physically. That’s an inevitable law of nature. However, living in the moment is just an inalterable characteristic of our physical body, but as soon as we switch our perspective from the physical level to the mental level things start to change completely, in a very interesting way. Even though we are living physically in this very moment – nearly all our thoughts revolve around the past or the future. The thoughts of a very young person will clearly be focused on the events that will take place in the future – no matter if these are upcoming events in the next moments or situations that lie many years in the future. The elder, however, will have directed their focus on situations from the past, with their thoughts revolving around the things that have already happened.
The border between the past and the future is nearly non-existent and could be depicted with a thin line in the middle of two infinite levels; the line symbolizes this very moment – the here and now – the reality. The boundaries of the past and future are constantly shifting and with them shifts the present; isn’t that thought you have at this very moment bygone a second later? Something to think about …
Apropos thoughts – the title of this article wasn’t named “thinking in the moment is key to happiness” as I intentionally avoided the words “thoughts”, “thinking” and the like. The reason why I did this is that it is not possible for us to “think in the moment”. This very moment can be seen, experienced and felt, but we cannot think about it, our thoughts simply cannot revolve around the present. Whenever we start thinking our thoughts get influenced by past experiences, mindsets, attitudes and values; in short things that are influenced by the events we experienced in the past. Thinking is like switching into a fantasy, a virtual reality that is not existent in this very moment – our thoughts do not exist on a physical level. The past and the future cannot be touched or seen, we cannot experience it and we are not able to feel what happened in the moment, we only can imagine these virtual realities within our minds. That is the reason this article was chosen to be about “living in the moment”. The present is something you can experience, feel and see; which is quite wonderful as it really happens and is not just a part of imagined thoughts, hopes or fears.
- The past and the future do only exist within your thoughts
- Reality is what you experience in this very moment
- Your mind and thoughts are not part of the present
So far so good. That is how I see reality and how I would describe “living in the moment”. Reality is quite an interesting topic and a lot of my thoughts revolve around questions related to reality; what it is and how different people interpret it. In my article about thinking outside the box I wrote that every one of us is living within a box, that filters the true reality accordingly to our mindsets, attitudes, and values. This article, however, will not focus on comprehending the moment, but on the power of living in this very moment and it will show you why living in the moment is a key factor for happiness.
So, what is the power of living in the moment?
Gratitude and Happiness
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs describes the theory that the motive behind all our actions are specific needs we want to satisfy; from physiological needs (breathing, eating), security needs, social needs to the needs of self-actualization. As soon as we have accomplished the needs on one level we start to fully concentrate towards the achievement of the needs that are located on a higher level. For example, when we have satisfied the need for food and water we can focus on our social needs, security needs, etc. The reason that I chose to mention Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in this article is because it elucidates one thing very clearly:
Throughout our whole life, we focus on the things we wish we had and the things we want to accomplish, rather than being grateful for what we have and what we already achieved in life. Living this kind of lifestyle is a never-ending race for happiness and fulfillment.
Pursuing the things we do not have / the needs we want to satisfy with the attempt to experience happiness and fulfillment through them is a never-ending race, without being able to feel true happiness and fulfillment, even when achieving the targeted goals and tangibles. When we look closer at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs we see that as soon as we satisfied one need another need will start to arise, leaving us behind unsatisfied, unfulfilled or not happy. My core statement is that you shouldn’t make your own happiness dependent on the achievement of the things you currently not have.
One of the most common things people try to accomplish is wealth, which helps them to be able to afford all different sorts of tangibles. The motive behind this pursuit of money is the hope to find fulfillment and happiness by gathering it. But, as soon as we look closer at a person who gained abundance we can clearly see the shift that took place within his very own hierarchy of needs, as this person discovered that money, tangibles, and wealth do not truly fulfill him. As a result, this person will try to reach the next level of his hierarchy of needs, for instance, self-actualization but also the attempt to gain more power, etc.
Living in the moment, however, allows you to be truly grateful for the wonderful things you have in this very moment, no matter if it is health or the fact that you have a lovely family. By living in the moment you are not dependent on the accomplishment of wealth, tangibles or anything else in order to become happy as you are already able to appreciate and love the very moment, which makes you happy. Furthermore, it helps you to realize that the pursuit of material things or needs with the attempt to find fulfillment and happiness will fail and end in a viscous circle of desiring, pursuing and achieving, without reaching the desired destination (happiness). Goals and hopes (for instance the hope to become rich) are not real in the present situation, as they are just thoughts and dreams that do not exist, yet. You cannot feel or experience them and should not rely on them to make you any happier at all when realized. Even more important: the things you desire won’t make you any happier at all if you aren’t able to be thankful for what you already have. In fact, you will never experience true happiness and fulfillment by accomplishing the various things on our “personal hierarchy of needs”, as these needs are constantly shifting, as soon as you satisfy one of them.
Living in the moment is essential for being happy. Happiness is nothing you can think about, even if you might have been happy in the past and if you know that you will be happy in the future. You can only experience happiness by feeling it in the very moment. The happiness you experience is not dependent on tangibles and wealth, but depends on the ability to be grateful for the things you have in life.
There are times in our lives where we look at our lives and tell ourselves that we cannot to this and that we cannot achieve that. It often goes so far that these negative thoughts prevent us even from performing an action, just because we have made negative experiences with it in the past. Whenever we start worrying about the future we are clearly not living in the moment, as we start to visualize negative experiences in the past and let the mindsets that evolved out of them influence our present behavior.
When living in the moment there will be no questions about what might happen, what could have happened or what will happen. Living in the moment means to accept the past as what it is: a bygone and not changeable experience that will only have an influence on your present life if you allow it to.
Photo by half-blood prince
What is your favorite strategy to be living in the moment?