How rare is it for us to give our complete attention to anything and be fully present in each moment?

We are prone to spending the great majority of our days in internal monologues of worry, fear, jealousy, future plans, and self-criticism. Even when we are talking with others we are rehearsing our answers, worrying about tomorrow or slipping back into yesterday. It’s like we always desire to be somewhere else or someone else.

Why do we constantly focus on everything except the exact moment we are in right now?

I don’t know about you, but as a general rule, the more I am focused on being anywhere other than where I am, the more prone to unhappiness and suffering I become. Here is why:

I find there is truth everywhere and in everything…truth isn’t limited to your current view of the world, your experience, or your religion. I’m not Buddhist, but there are interesting concepts in Buddhism. For instance, there are three tenants…or three core beliefs.

The first is that suffering exists. True enough. Human nature is imperfect and so is the world we live in. Inevitably in your life you will suffer. You will experience pain, loss, less, never etc. Bad things will happen to you…guaranteed. No way around it.

The second belief explains where suffering comes from. Suffering comes from attachment to desires. Think about it, you desire money, no pain, freedom, relationship, a successful business etc, so when you experience loss in regards to any of these things, you will suffer because you craved it in the first place. Or in other words, you CAN’T experience loss if you never had or desired the thing to begin with. The truth is we all desire to have and to control things (again, happiness, freedom, money, fame, relationships, your reputation, a beach house etc), and clinging to these desires creates suffering because at some point “loss, less, or never” WILL happen.

The third belief is a logical one. Suffering will cease when attachment to desire ceases….otherwise known as Nirvana. It is freedom and and non-attachment from worries, troubles ideas and wants. It is letting go of any desires or cravings. Again, if you never desire a thing, then when you inevitably experience “loss, less, or never” with that thing, you simply won’t suffer.

Ok – so suffering exists, suffering comes from attachment to desire, so to avoid suffering we should not cling to desire. How to you practically do that?

The best answer I can find, is by living and being fully present HERE and NOW without clinging to more. Being content and grateful. Not craving to be or have anything more than you already do in this very moment.

But is this an excuse to not set goals? To not hold yourself to higher standards of achievement? If you never desire anything won’t you just contentedly waste away?

Not at all.

If you watered a plant, it would not be because the plant craved water. It requires water to live! That’s very different from wanting, desiring, or craving water. When you are hungry and you eat, it’s not because you crave food, it’s because you require food and it is natural to eat. But if you cling to the idea that you just have to have a breakfast burrito…this clinging can become suffering if it’s not satisfied.

Make sense?

So, at the same time you are not craving or wanting anything more than what you already have in this exact moment…you must also be doing the things that are required to make you happier and improve your life…like exercising, building things, doing work you love, being with friends or eating healthy. BUT, at the same time not clinging to those things. BUT, at the same time striving for them. BUT…

Understand?

So go work hard today, without craving future success. Congratulate someone on their achievements without desiring to be in their shoes. Be fully engaged in what is happening right now, without clinging to some future worry or fear. Build wealth without attachment to desire of money.

The perfect balance is found when you can pursue the things that make you the best version of yourself while simultaneously detaching from desires and living fully present in each moment.

Stay hungry, stay foolish.