Today, I want to talk about being present.
I have written before about the “I’ll be happy when…” trap.
It’s something I did for a long time.
Waiting until I reached a certain point in my life.
Then I’d be happy.
Waiting until I went on that long-awaited holiday.
Then I’d be more relaxed.
Waiting until going to that event that I was so looking forward to.
Then I’d feel beautiful once I was all dressed up and looking fancy.
Waiting until I wasn’t feeling anxious anymore.
Then I’d finally be able to breathe, and not fidget so much.
Waiting until I moved to another country.
Then I could start living the life I really wanted.
What a fool I was.
Thinking that any of these things would bring me a sense of peace and satisfaction.
Why would none of these preconceived notions about what happiness entailed, bring me to that elusive state of pure bliss?
Because none of it is real.
When you live your life that way, you are just chasing your own tail.
You never get there.
You are unable to live in the present moment and be happy, and grateful for what is.
It was a day of doing absolutely nothing but being in the present moment, where I was truly able to comprehend what “being in the now” truly is.
And do you know what I did today?
Normal, everyday stuff. Things that were unremarkable in every way.
I cleaned my house.
I did a load of washing.
I went and did some groceries.
I FaceTimed a friend overseas.
I drank coffee, and ate toast with disgusting quantities of butter and blueberry jam.
I listened to a talk by my current spiritual crush Alan Watts, on living in the moment.
Which inspired this article.
I made a spinach and feta quiche for dinner.
I drank a glass of wine, and listened to Amy Winehouse.
Whilst a strong, thunderstorm-scented breeze wafted through the window of my kitchen.
Intoxicating all of my senses with the smell of wet concrete, and jasmine.
And I felt at peace.
I felt grateful.
I felt happy.
Because I understand what it’s all about now.
It’s about NOW.
There is nothing else.
I searched for the quote that Alan Watts had spoken, about living in the now.
“For unless one is able to live fully in the present, the future is a hoax. There is no point whatever in making plans for a future which you will never be able to enjoy. When your plans mature, you will still be living for some other future beyond. You will never, never be able to sit back with full contentment and say, “Now, I’ve arrived!” Your entire education has deprived you of this capacity because it was preparing you for the future, instead of showing you how to be alive now.”
What is it going to take for you to appreciate the gift that is the present?
When are you going to stop saying “I’ll be happy when…”?
In hindsight, I can now say that the reason I was constantly living in that silly trap, was that I wasn’t happy in the now.
I did everything I could to escape it by making plans for the future. Going and living in that future state, to get through my “present” at that time.
Thinking that that’s what would make me happy. When realising that all I had to do was to make the choice to be happy now.
So I made the choice.
And I continue to consciously make the choice each, and every day to be happy with everything that “is” in my life right now.
It’s not that you can’t make plans for a future that you know will likely bring you joy. But you cannot be fooled into thinking that that’s where your happiness lies.
Because you’ll never get there.
Happiness is right now.
If you break it all down, that’s all we have.
This very moment.
You cannot get happiness from the past by reliving it.
And you cannot get it from the future when it’s just an illusion.
The future plans that we make, only make us live in hope that things will be a certain way.
We don’t know anything for sure.
Today, I leave you with a quote from Mother Teresa.
And my advice today?
Stop waiting to live your life, and start living it today.
Stop waiting for the day where you think you will be happy, and start making yourself happy right now.
Surround yourself with those that love you.
Fill your time with things you love doing.
Because life is too short to fill it with those that berate you, and for doing shit you hate.
And above all else, appreciate the present.
“Yesterday is gone.
Tomorrow has not yet come.
We have only today.
Let us begin.”