More often than not, we hear this chitchat about living your day as if were the last one. Facebook and social media are filled with catchphrases about the beauty of YOLO and Carpe Diem, as if there were a magic switch in our brain which would instantly put us present on an exact moment.
There are people who live most of their lives only thinking about the future, about the golden days which are about to come or about the solution to all their problems. They jeopardize their present – by saving too much, by caring too much and by not enjoying life – in order that they have a bright tomorrow. What they seem to forget is that life is never about the destination but always about the trip, so they simply set their existence aside. In addition, nobody is exempt from suddenly having a stroke or developing a cancer, so it is better that you focus on what is certain – the present – rather than on what is uncertain – the future.
On the other hand, there are also people – like me, in a certain way – who never care what about tomorrow brings. Save for retirement? Fuck that, I want to enjoy life while I am still young and my body responds accordingly. Work really hard when you are young, in order that you have a comfortable future? Nah, life is too short not to enjoying it. Leave a legacy for your children and grandchildren? That is way too long in the future and I do not even know whether I will raise a family! That is also be quite problematic, because the ones who postpone and do not set the foundations of their life today will be the losers of tomorrow.
That is why life is all about finding a good balance – do not confuse it with being average or just doing everything mildly, which will just turn you into a mediocre/another sheep in the herd – so make sure you enjoy your present, always with an eye on the future. But concerning the former, even the ones who think they live in the present have perhaps a misconceived perception about how they face reality. Why? Because they live alienated and everywhere but in the moment. And these are the three main reasons why:
Too many distractions
Think about the generation of our grandparents or even the one of our parents. Think how they life, obligations and hobbies were. Maybe after work, they would go home and watch that program (and not twenty) on television which would gather the whole family. Or perhaps they would spend an hour reading a newspaper every day in the morning. And eventually a good book two hours before going to sleep. And on the weekends? Well, surely fixing a bicycle or building that tree house would be part of their Saturdays, while a picnic at the park would be the norm for Sundays.
What they did not have were 1000 channels to choose from on their television, not even 100. Nor would they have a PC or Laptop which would allow them to surf the internet and watch useless YouTube videos for hours in a row. And what about that hidden “gem” cassette with that porn film, whose main actress was the object of desire of the whole neighborhood? Well, nowadays horny guys just go to xvideos or youporn and check a new girl every two minutes, with their assholes more open than a German border. Oh, and have I forgotten to refer the smart phone, always beeping with notifications from WhatsApp, Tinder, Facebook and Twitter?
In 2018, the sources of distraction are so many that I wonder how people can even maintain normal relationships with one another. If this were just confined to each one’s homes, it would already be quite harmful, but the fact that everyone is glued to his or her smartphone all the time, turns every present moment in an absent one.
People are everywhere – in that paradise beach which they see through a friend in Facebook, eventually in the coolest party a celebrity refers in his twitter, or even paying attention to these endless, superficial WhatsApp groups with the vainest conversations – but here. They simply do not know anymore neither what it is too look to the person in front of them in the bus nor to realize how fun it is to see those kids playing near the bridge.
Some centuries ago, we had a great part of the population infected with the plague, smallpox or even with worms in their stomachs. More recently, the flu pandemic Influenza killed almost 100 million people in 1918. And do not forget about the “hype” of the 80s and 90s, where HIV supposedly infected around 60 million people. Last but not least, Malaria is still the number one killer of the African population and the “classical” infectious Tuberculosis still makes victims nowadays.
But somehow, in our over-safe western societies, it seems that everyone has a problem. The rest of the world might be breaking into pieces, that what matters most are our “deep psychological traumas”. If you look around, most of the people seem to live in a constant state of stress, putting anguish in everything they do. And while some of the problems might be valid and indeed real, the truth is that we give the “fake” ones too much credit, putting them in the spotlight of our lives.
And this general anxiety mostly happens for two main reasons: reminiscences of suffering in the past and worry about the future.
Concerning the former, we have all been there, in this place where we made big mistakes and suffered or, at least, paid the consequences. When you should have saved for money, but you went for those holidays of three months, which left you bankrupt. Or what about that house you should never bought, whose installments take nowadays 2/3 of your net income. But not everything is money-related. What to say when you should have taken seriously your gym membership, but you just got lazy and right now you have those extra 20 kg “impossible to lose”? Or when you should have done a routine checkup but you simply ignore it, and now you are fighting a terrible ulcer which is totally affecting your mood and overall health?
Past errors literally affect your present (as they turn into money, health or deep psychological problems) and can, consequently, occupy all your mind, if you allow them to.
And this is why you get worried about the future, because not only you are not satisfied with what you have today but especially because you have already gone through a painful experience in the past. And instead of focusing on how to cure it, fix it or improve it, you tend to only think about the negative outcome which might happen again. And so you do nothing to change, leaving your mind everywhere but in the present (the effects are similar to these of the Analysis Paralysis, which affects everything you do and leaves you in a constant state of over-thinking).
And last but not least, it is time to talk about our mundane existence. Yes, that one which wakes you up in the morning like a zombie, makes you brush your teeth and wash your face, puts you eating your cereals and finally dressed to leave home. The one which takes you from point A to point B every day, where in between you get stuck in traffic or waiting for the next bus, while commuting to your beloved job. The one which puts you checking your emails, your Facebook, your phone and the internet in general, everything which can help you escaping the unbearable boring moment you find yourself in.
90% of the world population does not even realize it, but the truth is that they live their daily lives on automatic pilot. They follow a routine, a forceful habit which removes most of the joy and excitement one should have when performing any activity.
As I talked in my article about consistence, habits are great and indeed the only way to succeed. Nevertheless, in most of the cases, these can become your biggest enemy, as you will be entering a negative spiral without even realizing it. First you do it, then you do it, afterwards you do it, until you reach a moment in which you no longer think about it.
But as referred before, you do not think about it because you are having pleasure about that certain activity. No, you simply shut down your awareness and keep doing things without you actually being there. Not rare are the stories where people leave house with their slippers, only to realize it already half way to work. Or when parents forget to pick up their children on their way home, just because their minds are so filled with clutter.
In the end of the day (literally) you are exhausted and, worse, with this terrible feeling that you just had another day in which you lost time around your unfulfilling job, while all your dreams, aspirations and personal projects keep being stored on the top dusty shelves of the back of your mind.
So what to do?
First, stop for a minute, breathe deeply and come back. Are you ready? Good, I am glad that you are HERE now.
And that is exactly what you have to start doing from now. In any given situation, and I mean ANY, just be present, be there, be real. In case you have some problems figuring out how, just imagine that you are a machine programmed to do exactly one activity, without any possibility to perform anything else.
You said yourself that for the next couple of hours you are going to get the job done? Great, so focus on what you have to do. Turn off your TV, put your phone away and lock your dog in the basement and simply start typing those words or designing that website for real.
Or maybe you said to yourself that you will have the best workout ever? Good, so bring your mp3 with you, leave your phone home, do not talk with the other guys in the gym (unless you are asking them for help) and go lift hard, as if that would define your existence!
But wait, perhaps you said that you would hit the streets for one hour and approach as many women as you could? Fantastic, so just leave the phone on your pocket, forget about your past defeats, embrace a positive mindset, crave for rejection and reinvigorate from it, and just talk without thinking to every girl your find attractive.
The bottom line of all of this is that you have to live with mindfulness, by really being there on the moment. And the secret behind it is that you must never think about the outcome, only focus on the process. I repeat: YOU MUST NEVER THINK ABOUT THE OUTCOME, ONLY FOCUS ON PROCESS.
So whenever you will work those two hours hard, do not think or get depressed that you are still far from where you would like to be and that you are broke. No, give you best on this moment because it is the sum of disciplined moments which will make you great.
When lifting weights, do not look to the side and see that ripped guy who you would like to become, but you think that you never will. NO! Hit that iron with so much will, until you can not stand anymore the calluses of your hands.
Or when approaching girls or going out, do not think that you do not fuck already for one month and that most of your last interactions or nights were totally fruitless. NO! Think that every day is a new day, that you like to talk to women and that only the ones who enjoy you will deserve your attention.
In the end of the day, whatever you do, just do it 100%, as if the world would end tomorrow and there were no past or future to think about.