When you're sick, your only concern is that you feel better right away
When you are unhappy with your current situation, you fantasize about a better future or reflect on how you messed it up the last time you were happy.
When you're happy, it's easier to enjoy the moment and even laugh about your mistakes in the past while planning your future. But none of this diminishes your happiness in the present.
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So you have two options for being present: get really sick or be happy.
I prefer to be happy, so I go with the latter
Throughout my battles with depression and severe anxiety (the type of anxiety that causes you to vomit every time you talk on the phone), I've discovered a few techniques and stories that help me enjoy the present moment.
1. Recognize that the glass has already been shattered
I once read a story about a man who traveled to India in search of his truth, whatever that may be. He was looking for answers. He happened upon a teacher and was astounded by how content this man was over the course of his time there. The teacher was concerned about and respected everyone and everything.
Curious as to how this teacher achieved this level of thought and, some might say, enlightenment, he inquired, “How are you so content every moment?”
The teacher lowered his gaze and indicated his glass of water.
“This cup is already shattered,” he declared. “If I knock it over and it breaks, I just say, ‘of course.'”
“One day, this cup holding my water will no longer be a cup. It's already broken, and because it's broken, I treasure every moment I spend with the cup.”
Everything comes to an end. Everything.
Understanding this makes you grateful for the moment you are in. People die, this article will one day cease to exist, and the planet we live on will also cease to exist. It all comes to an end. I don't say this to be pessimistic; I say it to spread the message of being thankful and cherishing every moment you have while you're alive.
2. A short burst of meditation works wonders
I've tried it all. Hour-long meditations, chanting meditations, location-specific meditations, meditations that wake you up at an ungodly hour, all of it. Nothing stayed with me.
I was feeling like a failure. I was always concerned that I wasn't doing it correctly. I'd be annoyed if I spent the majority of the meditation thinking about things rather than being “mindless.” It was a disaster. I was a jerk.
Then, about five months ago, I discovered a ten-minute meditation that has worked like a charm.
I have a nice piece of classical music that I listen to through my headphones while sitting cross-legged with my back against a wall. I just listen and concentrate on my in-breath.
I'm not sure why this one has worked the best for me, but it has.
I feel good after the ten minutes are up; I feel focused. It tends to bring me back to the present in a pleasant, calming way. This brief meditation has left me feeling very at ease.
Perhaps it will work for you as well.
3. The greatest snake oil salesman in life is perspective
Is that correct? I'm not sure. I'm honestly surprised I came up with that title.
Perspective guides us in a variety of ways. It preaches the idea that things can always get worse. That is the most common approach to perspective.
However, things can always be better. At least, we believe they are. We don't know for sure.
We believe we have a good idea. More money, a different job, nicer weather, a newer phone, better friends—all of this sounds better in your current mental state, but is it really?
I know very wealthy people who are unhappy. They can have everything they want, but they are so preoccupied with their appearance that they are unable to fully enjoy anything.
Over the last decade, I've worked at a number of different jobs, each of which I enjoyed for three months before becoming bored and looking for a “happier” path.
I live on Vancouver Island, which is the most beautiful place in Canada, but the other night I really missed the massive thunderstorms I used to see when I lived in the Prairies.
It can always be worse or better, depending on how we choose to perceive what perspective is to us.
For a while, tell perspective to stop selling you on worse or better and try to enjoy what you have. Enjoying your reality is far more powerful than enjoying a dream that you hope will come true in the future.
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