Happiness is nothing more than our potential to enjoy the present moment.
It has nothing to do with the past, and the paths we could have taken.
It has nothing to do with the future, and the things we need to do.
It has nothing to do with our friends, and the lives they are living.
Why You Matter Right Now
Every moment, the old you dies and is replaced with a new one. The old you doesn’t matter. It can’t change lives, connect with humans, or be a part of reality. The present you matters. It matters because the person you’re becoming depends entirely on the choices, decisions, and attitudes of the present.
Are you using your dreams as a happiness crutch?
The idea of happiness in the future is enticing. Many people manage to get through life holding on to the dream that tomorrow will be better. In their mind…
- their relationships will be healthy and growing
- their body will be strong and limber
- their business will be thriving
- their lives will be stress-free and blissful
A lot of people cling to this future utopia as a way to get them through the boredom and mediocrity of their lives. In fact, what they call happiness is actually false hope that tomorrow will be magically different.
Their joy is ever in the future. Always, always, always far in the future.
The problem with this way of thinking is that it never leaves you satisfied. If tomorrow is the destination, today is a rest stop along the way. If tomorrow is the goal, today is a means to that end.
It’s impossible to enjoy the present when you’re mind is anchored in the future. It’s like trying to enjoy a scenic car ride when your bladder is about to burst. No matter how hard you resist, your mind is focused on the future when you can find relief.
The happiness you’re looking for isn’t found in tomorrow’s dreams, its found in the contentment of today. Feeling the warm sun, tasting good food, breathing fresh air, stretching sleepy muscles and a million other gifts you can experience any hour of the day.
A Million Magnificent Deaths
Many ambitious, go-getter types I know suffer from the previous diagnosis. They’re always thinking about the future and how awesome it will be if all their plans fall in place. But there’s another major obstacle that people face to experience contentment in the here and now.
Some people can’t escape their past. Either they romanticize history by remembering all the good things that are gone or they cling hopelessly to regrets and pains that shape their present reality.
Neither is healthy and they both trap you inside a person that doesn’t exist anymore. You see, the old you is dead. The you that is sitting in front of a computer reading this post is different than any version of you who ever lived.
The new you is different because…
1.) Your past experiences have left you smarter and wiser.
2.) The choices you make today are independent of choices you’ve made in the past.
3.) Only the new you can change the world.
4.) The new you rocks!
Embrace the reality that every moment is a fresh start. If you like, throw away everything that reminds you of your past self. The important things like memories and connections you’ve made won’t go anywhere. Then, take a deep breath and open your eyes to the awesomeness going on all around you!
Don’t Be Anyone’s Biggest Fan
This is the last little bit of wisdom I want to share with you. It’s one I’ve struggled with my entire existence. Starting with cartoon heroes, I would idolize people and want to be like them more than anything else in the world.
I’d eat the same things they ate, dress like them, talk like them, and try to emulate them in every way. It’s kind of cute when you’re a 6 year old boy acting like a Ninja Turtle but it isn’t so funny when you’re a pimply-faced teenager who has no idea what it means to be yourself.
The point is this: Learn from the people you admire, but don’t try to be them. Be happy with who you are. Sure, you’re a work in progress, but you’re you. Accepting that is a key to finding contentment in the here and now.
And oh yeah, don’t be someone’s biggest fan. “Biggest Fans” are creepy. They don’t think for themselves or choose their own values. Plus, they’re boring.
The editor of Ethical Living, and pursuer of relatively interesting information, Simon has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales, and is a photo-journalist and writer whose written and photographic work has been represented by the AFP news agency and appeared in newspapers across Europe and Asia.