A spiritual outlook with a minimalist perspective on life that is conducive to happiness is often predicated on living in the present moment through mindful awareness emancipated from the vagaries of the subconscious and the itinerants of the mind.
- 🕰 Best Moment Award 🏆
- 🔖 Acceptance Speech 🎙
- “If I can do it then anybody can.”
- A Meditation on Life: Delayed Gratification
- Scientific Account of Living in the Moment
- Stay in the Moment and Stop Wandering
- Stop Facebooking and Smell the Roses
- Conclusion: Change Rules and Moment Matters
- Best Moment Award Winners
- 🕰 Moment in Perspective 💠
- The Best Moments Involve a Loss of Control
- Find Your Eternity in Each Moment
- The Norm of the Moment
- The Moment According to Stoic Philosophy
- A Stoic Analogy of Life by Marcus Aurelius
- 10 Tips to Start Living in the Present
- The Art of Now: Six Steps to Living in the Moment
- Mindfulness Tips: How to Live in the Moment
- How to Live in the Moment
- How to Live in the Present
- How to be Present: 5 Steps for Living in the Here-and-Now
- Learning to Live in the Moment Will Change Your Life
- Emerging into the Moment
- Thoughts and Reflections 10: Achieving Ourselves
- What Animals Can Teach Us about Mindfulness
- Why “Living in the Moment” is Bad Advice
- Living in the Present with Religion and Truth
- Living in the Moment — Good or Bad?
- Only Living in the Moment – And Why It Can Be Dangerous
- The Difficulty of Being in the Present
- Always A Moment
- Moments Without Thought
- Guide to the Now
- Oprah Talks to Eckhart Tolle
- Living in the Present Moment
- The Present Moment; Being Completely Here and Now
- Mindfulness Places Us Where Our Choice is Possible
- Related Articles
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Sound Eagle, I have read your learned dissertation. It is more a book than a blog post. 🙂
As you know, I am in basic agreement with your thesis, so will award you a Ph.D. in presentology.
Awarding the people who live in the moment,
The noble who write and capture the best in life,
The bold who reminded us what really mattered ―
Savouring the experience of quality time.
Winners re-post this completely with their acceptance speech. This could be written or video recorded.
Winners have the privilege of awarding the next awardees! The re-post should include a NEW set of people/blogs worthy of the award; and winners notify them the great news.
- What makes a good acceptance speech?
- Gratitude. Thank the people who helped you along the way
- Humour. Keep us entertained and smiling
- Inspiration. Make your story touch our lives
- Get an idea from the great acceptance speeches, compiled in MomentMatters.com/Speech
- Display the award’s badge on your blog/website, downloadable in MomentMatters.com/Award
[Note: MomentMatters.com seems to be defunct.]
It was early Friday morning. SoundEagle🦅 woke up and found a new comment posted on the “About” page barely an hour ago:
Hi, how are you?
Good news, we are giving you the “BEST MOMENT AWARD”. Congratulations and enjoy the rest of the day!
On the basis that no specific reasons were provided to explain why SoundEagle🦅 has been chosen to receive the award, one could perhaps presume that the musical magic of the filmic logic must have worked its charm:
Nothing comes from nothing,
Nothing ever could.
So somewhere in my youth or childhood,
I must have done something good.
Or rather, in keeping more to the spirit of Moment Matters, one could perhaps conclude that SoundEagle🦅 must have been awarded for living in the moment, for being noble in writing and capturing the best in life, for being so bold as to remind “us what really mattered ― Savoring the experience of quality time.”
SoundEagle🦅 is certainly very grateful for a lot of reasons. And yet, how should or could an Acceptance Speech be reasonably delivered regardless of the specific degrees or details of an awardee’s achievements or contributions? Perhaps one should or could take a moment to fathom the fabric and interconnectedness of life amidst all its trials and tribulations, and throughout its course of evolution bolstered by systemic interdependencies and resiliencies.
There have been the myth and romanticization of the self-made person succeeding against all odds. The brilliance of certain accomplishments can be so blindingly bright that some people may fail to recognize that many things and conditions have to fall into place for someone to achieve success. Even the greatest heroes, rulers or tyrants need thousands or millions of supporters and followers, plus good climate and sufficient natural resources.
Certain high-flyers, champions or celebrities may utter “If I can do it then anybody can.”. On the surface, their statement may seem to suggest that they are modest, democratic, inspiring and down-to-earth individuals who have succeeded through sheer effort and determination, and that they are encouraging others to do so in order to realize their dreams and potentials.
Yet, one cannot help wondering that these successful people are selling an idea or image of success based on the belief that an individual can transcend or overcome any obstacle. They seem to think that everyone has the same chance and is on a level playing field, and that all paths are equally open to all folks. They have forgotten that many conditions, peoples and infrastructures have to be present within an environment or a society for certain pursuits, successes or achievements to take place.
For example, if one were to put those same high-flyers, champions or celebrities in a more disadvantaged socioeconomic or sociodemographic area, or in a third- or fourth-world country saddled with poverty, crime and other social and cultural issues, then the utterance “If I can do it then anybody can.” could be readily exposed as being vain and vacuous. Also, had they been born into a world in which they have to face poverty, corruption, delinquency, famine, disability, disease, discrimination, slavery, war, anarchy, exploitation, marginalization, despotism, ostracism, obscurantism and so on, none of them would go very far or have the opportunity to enter their chosen professions.
Moreover, those who are enticed or charmed by the preconceived notion “If I can do it then anybody can.” would have ignored that the structural nature of inequality, the systemic nature of social organization, the influential sphere of sociopolitical ideology, the bargaining power of socioeconomic status, the social relations to the means of production, the transactional advantages of social capital, the symbolic commands of cultural capital, and the pervading effects of social stratification and epistemic injustice, let alone the perennial issues of race, age, gender, genetics (nature) and upbringing (nurture), can create advantages for some individuals and disadvantages for others, and thus can be the underlying causes of an individual’s success or failure regardless of how hard the person works, as the following videos demonstrate.
Often oblivious to the abovementioned multifactorial issues affecting and determining the life chances of individuals, various people have been led to believe that emulating the elites, the trailblazers, the rich and famous, the successful and glamorous, or the powerful and eminent in any fashionable domain or socially desirable field of human endeavour by studying the putative formulae or recipes for success, is the answer to the realization of their hopes and aspirations, the ticket to their future prosperity, the pathway to their prospective ascendancy, the means to be ahead of the pack, or the route to reach the top of social hierarchy. Countless supposedly inspirational quotations, slogans and even rules of life (as well as vast amounts of promotions and profits) have been sourced or created from bestsellers and brand leaders in the form of books, videos, seminars, workshops, conferences, coaching sessions, mentoring classes, networking avenues and the like. In rethinking the obvious at the Polymath Project and citing the research of Steven Pinker, Charles Chu, a “writer in Science, Education, Politics, Culture, Self Improvement, Life Lessons, Psychology, Entrepreneurship”, warns us of confusing or conflating accomplishments due to genetic endowment or native talent with those due to diligence or determination, reminds us of the myths or illusions of tabula rasa, “success formula”, functional training, parenting advice and education programme, as well as cautions us against the fallacy of “doing what the best do” in the quoted paragraphs chosen as follows:
Here’s one version of the greatest in the world fallacy that I see everywhere:
“To be the best in the world, study the best in the world and do what they do.”
For a long time, I was convinced this was true.
To be a successful investor, I thought you could read books by Warren Buffett or George Soros and emulate them. To be an elite basketball player, I thought you could spend nights and weekends watching footage of Lebron James or Kobe Bryant and train like they train.
Or — as many self-help books claim — I thought you could be successful by imitating the routines of the best in the world…
Humans are not blank slates. We have different personalities, different strengths and weaknesses. You can’t run the same ‘success formula’ through each of us like you can run an algorithm through a computer. Sadly, most of the world still seems to think you can.
Tom Brady’s training program isn’t going to work for me. Why? Because I’m not Tom Brady. I don’t have his reaction speed, his proprioceptive awareness, or his ability to recover from training.
Most of us are — by definition — closer to the average, and what works for the exceptional doesn’t always work for the ordinary. If everyone at your local YMCA had to train like a Navy SEAL, most of them would be in the hospital before dinnertime.
This one-size-fits-all, do-what-others-do kind of thinking is naive, but it seems to be everywhere, even in the scientific literature.
Take education, for example. In school, I was able to get A’s without studying. Yet, I looked down on other kids and blamed them for their bad grades, saying, “They get bad grades because they aren’t working hard enough.”
In retrospect, that was both dishonest and egoistical of me. I didn’t work hard at all: Most of my time in school was spent playing video games. My grades were due to talent, and I don’t deserve praise for that.
Another example is parenting advice. The Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker has been pointing out for over a decade now that much of parenting advice is BS (or at least severely misguided).
Like people selling functional training, people selling parenting advice regularly mistake luck (genetics) for skill (parenting).…
Likewise, you shouldn’t look at the kids who get into Harvard or Princeton and apply their study methods. Why? For the same reasons: A big part of getting into top-tier schools is SAT scores. SAT scores are a glorified IQ test, and much of IQ is genetic.
A good education program should make everybody better, not simply help the kids who are already good at taking tests succeed.…
If you think about it, “do what the best do” is another form of argument from authority.
Disadvantaged people’s lives and voices are far less privileged, facilitated and represented because of the sociocultural, political and economic statuses that they cannot acquire, access or amass by having the social class, birthright, credential, identity or habitus that their advantaged counterparts possess in disproportionate abundance via structural causes and institutional means, insofar as their disadvantages are also the result of their ongoing and systemic “exclusion from the institutions devoted to making sense of, describing, and explaining human experiences — the institutions, such as newspapers and universities, that are most able to add new concepts to the common stock of concepts that we use for communicating to other people about our experiences. Miranda Fricker argues that unequal participation in the activities that shape the categories through which we understand the world makes some people’s lives less intelligible — sometimes, less intelligible to themselves, and often, less intelligible to others.”[❆] This lack of intelligibility and recognition further degrades and alienates (the lives and voices of) the underprivileged and disenfranchised. The tentacles of differential advantage, cumulative dominance, runaway polarization, rampant inequality and epistemic injustice can penetrate even what are purportedly or supposedly meritocratic spheres of life, including science and academia, thus furnishing dramatically more opportunities, recognitions and resources for those who are already well-established, well-resourced, well-cited or well-connected in their respective fields, as abbreviated in the following chosen and concatenated excerpts from Wikipedia:
The Matthew effect of accumulated advantage, described in sociology, is a phenomenon sometimes summarized by the adage that “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” The concept is applicable to matters of fame or status, but may also be applied literally to cumulative advantage of economic capital.
In the sociology of science, “Matthew effect” was a term coined by Robert K. Merton to describe how, among other things, eminent scientists will often get more credit than a comparatively unknown researcher, even if their work is similar; it also means that credit will usually be given to researchers who are already famous. For example, a prize will almost always be awarded to the most senior researcher involved in a project, even if all the work was done by a graduate student. This was later formulated by Stephen Stigler as Stigler’s law of eponymy – “No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer” – with Stigler explicitly naming Merton as the true discoverer, making his “law” an example of itself.
Merton furthermore argued that in the scientific community the Matthew effect reaches beyond simple reputation to influence the wider communication system, playing a part in social selection processes and resulting in a concentration of resources and talent. He gave as an example the disproportionate visibility given to articles from acknowledged authors, at the expense of equally valid or superior articles written by unknown authors. He also noted that the concentration of attention on eminent individuals can lead to an increase in their self-assurance, pushing them to perform research in important but risky problem areas.
In science, dramatic differences in the productivity may be explained by three phenomena: sacred spark, cumulative advantage, and search costs minimization by journal editors. The sacred spark paradigm suggests that scientists differ in their initial abilities, talent, skills, persistence, work habits, etc. that provide particular individuals with an early advantage. These factors have a multiplicative effect which helps these scholars [to] succeed later. The cumulative advantage model argues that an initial success helps a researcher [to] gain access to resources (e.g., teaching release, best graduate students, funding, facilities, etc.), which in turn results in further success. Search costs minimization by journal editors takes place when editors try to save time and effort by consciously or subconsciously selecting articles from well-known scholars. Whereas the exact mechanism underlying these phenomena is yet unknown, it is documented that a minority of all academics produce the most research output and attract the most citations.
On the one hand, the myth of “If I can do it then anybody can.” is rooted in the fact that people can have a strong tendency or proclivity to overestimate the ability and autonomy of the individual, and to underestimate the role and influence of the social, as exemplified by the abovementioned sociological factors and living circumstances that condition people’s lives from cradle to grave. On the other hand, the myth is perpetuated by certain mental predispositions or cognitive biases, insofar as people tend to evaluate situations based on their assessments, experiences and outcomes of their own prevailing circumstances. Overall, people characteristically commit or experience attribution bias:
In psychology, an attribution bias or attributional bias is a cognitive bias that refers to the systematic errors made when people evaluate or try to find reasons for their own and others’ behaviors. People constantly make attributions regarding the cause of their own and others’ behaviors; however, attributions do not always accurately reflect reality. Rather than operating as objective perceivers, people are prone to perceptual errors that lead to biased interpretations of their social world.
Attribution bias is very closely related to self-attribution bias, another long-established concept in psychological research dealing with the common phenomenon of people attributing successful outcomes to their own skills, endeavours, capacities or acumens, and unsuccessful outcomes to factors beyond their control. People are prone to self-attribution bias because of their tendency to ascribe successes to their own character, personal skills or innate aspects such as talent or foresight, but to ascribe failures to external factors, unforeseen circumstances, others’ behaviours or outside influences, blaming luck, team, trends or confounding factors for derailing their goal or progress. In other words, self-attribution bias is a cognitive phenomenon in which people attribute successes or positive events to dispositional factors and failures or negative events to situational factors. The upshot of self-attribution bias is that people are more inclined to tout, inflate or overestimate their achievements or positive attributes, but to deflect, ignore, minimize or underestimate their shortcomings or negative attributes; they become overly enthusiastic about positive feedback or praises, and unnecessarily dismissive of negative feedback or criticisms. In attempting to uphold dignity, retain pride, preserve ego, boost self-image or affirm self-esteem, people often defend, justify or rationalize certain outcomes through cognitive biases, perceptual distortions and psychological illusions, becoming more proud, vain, rigid, defensive, complacent, indifferent, irrational or recalcitrant, and thus rendering themselves much more likely to err in judgement and decision-making to the detriment of achieving considerably and consistently more desirable, holistic, optimum or superior outcomes. Self-attribution bias is also known as self-serving bias as follows:
A self-serving bias is any cognitive or perceptual process that is distorted by the need to maintain and enhance self-esteem, or the tendency to perceive oneself in an overly favorable manner. It is the belief that individuals tend to ascribe success to their own abilities and efforts, but ascribe failure to external factors. When individuals reject the validity of negative feedback, focus on their strengths and achievements but overlook their faults and failures, or take more responsibility for their group’s work than they give to other members, they are protecting their ego from threat and injury. These cognitive and perceptual tendencies perpetuate illusions and error, but they also serve the self’s need for esteem. For example, a student who attributes earning a good grade on an exam to their own intelligence and preparation but attributes earning a poor grade to the teacher’s poor teaching ability or unfair test questions might be exhibiting the self-serving bias. Studies have shown that similar attributions are made in various situations, such as the workplace, interpersonal relationships, sports, and consumer decisions.
Both motivational processes (i.e. self-enhancement, self-presentation) and cognitive processes (i.e. locus of control, self-esteem) influence the self-serving bias. There are both cross-cultural (i.e. individualistic and collectivistic culture differences) and special clinical population (i.e. depression) considerations within the bias.…
The distorted views or beliefs commonly encountered in people’s ignorance, misunderstanding or underestimation of prominent factors in their social upbringing and systemic socialization practices with respect to how people justify or rationalize the outcomes of their efforts or achievements are also the result of people succumbing to the cognitive processes of motivated reasoning, which is a sort of inferred strategy of justification and a kind of implicit regulation of emotion, in which people’s attitudes, decisions, deliberations and judgements are seldom neutral but often motivated by beliefs and outcomes. People often so desire to maintain or achieve these beliefs and outcomes that their thought processes favour, emphasize or gravitate towards those attitudes, decisions, deliberations and judgements that seek or amplify positive emotional states and avoid or attenuate negative emotional states as a way to dissolve mental discomfort or circumvent psychological stress known in the field of behavioural science as cognitive dissonance. The crux of motivated reasoning is therefore rooted in the tacit connections between emotions and biases, which can cast considerable impacts and raise serious ramifications in both the reliability and validity of judgement and decision-making. Some of these issues are summarized by Wikipedia as follows:
Motivated reasoning is an emotion-biased decision-making phenomenon studied in cognitive science and social psychology. This term describes the role of motivation in cognitive processes such as decision-making and attitude change in a number of paradigms, including:
- Cognitive dissonance reduction
- Beliefs about others on whom one’s own outcomes depend
- Evaluation of evidence related to one’s own outcomes
The processes of motivated reasoning are a type of inferred justification strategy which is used to mitigate cognitive dissonance. When people form and cling to false beliefs despite overwhelming evidence, the phenomenon is labeled “motivated reasoning”. In other words, “rather than search rationally for information that either confirms or disconfirms a particular belief, people actually seek out information that confirms what they already believe”. This is “a form of implicit emotion regulation in which the brain converges on judgments that minimize negative and maximize positive affect states associated with threat to or attainment of motives”.
There is always the risk or trap of being so seduced by the glory and accolade heaped upon those who are successful, triumphant or idolized that one ceases to think critically about the deeper implications of an innocently sounding statement or quotation that is as simple, promising and exuberant as “If I can do it then anybody can.”. This lack of critical mindset, faculty or attitude can readily lead one to latch onto a sanguine outlook or feel-good moral position that neglects or negates one’s personal responsibility to make sense of, and account for, the relevant history, contexts and contents as well as the moral, social and political bearings and principles pertinent or peculiar to tall and shining achievements. Overly optimistic beliefs as typified by the statement or quotation “If I can do it then anybody can.” may also be a sign or symptom of survivorship bias or survival bias, which is a fallacy of focusing on the people (or things) that succeed or prosper in some selection process, whilst disregarding those that fail or flop due to their lack of support, resource, visibility, fame, renown, honour or recognition. This form of bias can produce significant blinkers in people’s perceptions and conceptions of success and failure, as outlined in Wikipedia as follows:
Survivorship bias or survival bias … can lead to false conclusions in several different ways. It is a form of selection bias.
Survivorship bias can lead to overly optimistic beliefs because failures are ignored, such as when companies that no longer exist are excluded from analyses of financial performance. It can also lead to the false belief that the successes in a group have some special property, rather than just coincidence (correlation proves causality). For example, if three of the five students with the best college grades went to the same high school, that can lead one to believe that the high school must offer an excellent education. This could be true, but the question cannot be answered without looking at the grades of all the other students from that high school, not just the ones who “survived” the top-five selection process.
Some of the most salient and revealing examples of people disproportionately looking up to, believing in, or concentrating on, those with tall and shining achievements can be exemplified by the so-called “Horatio Alger myth” or “rags to riches”, in which persons of impoverished origins seemingly ascend to middle-class prosperity or even upper-class affluence from humble backgrounds or abject poverties through sheer determination and hard work, though often what ultimately changes their fates and facilitates their emancipations is actually some extraordinary act of redemption, bravery, courage or honesty, certain chance encounter or arranged meeting with a benefactor, influencer, impresario or luminary, and/or a particular set of people, events, happenstances or circumstances, that not only engender the substantive forces and resources required for achieving unstinting liberation and thoroughgoing ascension to eminence, but also sustain such dramatic socioeconomic transformation in the lives of such persons. The ramifications of such myths promulgated by many highly celebrated stories, whether real or fictional, can be far-reaching insofar as the stories deeply entrench certain cultural stereotypes and highly elevate specific life trajectories, whilst they obfuscate, supplant, suppress, usurp or subvert critical social issues and moral matters with romanticized visions of success, mythologized tales of prosperity, legendary retelling of the golden age, or unrealistic archetypes of fame and fortune, whilst emphasizing or even enshrining the narratives of the victorious and the authorities of the jubilant, some of which can also be considered as exemplars of the monomyth or hero’s journey. For instance:
Rags to riches refers to any situation in which a person rises from poverty to wealth, and in some cases from absolute obscurity to heights of fame — sometimes instantly. This is a common archetype in literature and popular culture (for example, the writings of Horatio Alger, Jr. and recently J. K. Rowling).
The concept of “Rags to riches” has been criticised by social reformers, revolutionaries, essayists and statisticians, who argue that only a handful of exceptionally capable and/or mainly lucky persons are actually able to travel the “rags to riches” road, being the great publicity given to such cases causes a natural survivorship bias illusion, which help [to] keep the masses of the working class and the working poor in line, preventing them from agitating for an overall collective change in the direction of social equality.
The abovementioned criticism is valid and defensible insofar as the underlying picture or concealed reality beneath such myths is a far cry from something openly inspiring and galvanizing towards achieving some wholesale social change for the good of many instead of just a lucky few or an exceptional minority, and for genuinely initiating and sustaining fundamental or widespread social change for the betterment of all and sundry. Nostalgia and mythology can indeed interact and entangle with the popular beliefs, common narratives, received wisdoms and putative legends of our times through the dynamics of cultural reproductions and social constructions. In other words, nostalgia and mythology can function like social narcotics, rendering many contemporary issues as well as certain past events and recorded histories less pitched, contentious, disputable or problematic than they really are or have been, especially when they have been fermented by survivorship bias or survival bias, which, for better or worse, further reinforces the allure of such myths, and thus perpetuates the legitimacy of their concomitant genres, stories and characters, considering how exuberant, promising and optimistic the cultural phenomena, social aspirations, and collectively held beliefs generated by such myths can become in popular media and contemporary societies, as well as in various exhortations, slogans, manifestos, catchphrases and quotations resulting from such myths.
Hence, even at the exalted moment of celebrating one’s foremost achievement or major milestone, one should be vigilant about championing or glorifying a certain feat, goal or quest, whose accessibility, feasibility and desirability can often far exceed the fundamental purview and spirit of fairness, practicability and sheer determination. In that regard, and in accepting this award, let it be repeated that SoundEagle🦅 is certainly very grateful for a lot of reasons, including being spared so far by stray bullets and comets, by the deadliest academics and epidemics, as well as by the apocalyptic revolt of our fellow nonhumans and Mother Nature forevermore affected by mounting anthropogenic forces, living, as we are, on borrowed time and resources. In addition, SoundEagle🦅 would like to show further appreciation of being conferred the BEST MOMENT AWARD by reciprocating with the 🦅 SoundEagle Appreciation Award 🎖.
Having been given the opportunity to present this acceptance speech with free rein to discuss the salient points of how people view and attribute success, SoundEagle🦅 would like to continue to provide the rationales for circumventing the expected exuberance and celebratory tone in validating an occasion and in confirming the legitimacy of an event or milestone worthy of rejoicing or exaltation, especially if the event or milestone includes or produces the often uncritically normalized if not glorified behaviour or mindset of prompting participants or urging members to emulate the deeds or successes of certain individual(s). As an alternative to or substitute for such behaviour or mindset, let us mark such an occasion, event or milestone with more gratitude, acknowledgement, humility and empathy towards the larger scheme of things and less pride and gratification towards the celebrated achievement or achiever per se, by pausing every now and then for bringing about deep reflections in order to ground ourselves in the moment and to keep (the highs and lows of) our lives in perspective. One way of enacting or facilitating such a reflective pause that may serve as a meditation on being grateful for each day can be demonstrated by the following video containing time-lapse photography by Louie Schwartzberg, music montage created and composed by Gary Malkin, with narration written and spoken by Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast.
From the perspectives of social sciences such as sociology, anthropology and archaeology, the putative personal freedom to individualize, the aspiring determination to accomplish, the ambitious resolve to succeed, and the career trajectory to pursue, are all tightly bound to social upbringing, cultural capital and collective empowerment as well as socioeconomic reality and demographic profile, not just to individual aptitude, capacity, competence or intelligence. Practising an “anti-capitalist eco-philosophy that’s a blend of existentialism, Zizek and Buddhism”, a graduate “from Temple University with a major in Anthropology and a minor in Religious Studies and Environmental Science” gives “a short critique of identity”, according to which both the environmental dependency of social outcomes and the situational primacy of human development are the dynamic results of people’s lives being embedded in, and moulded by, class structures, social stratifications, cultural reproductions and communication frameworks, as propounded in social constructivism, social constructionism and symbolic interactionism:
…Being an individual seems to be the daily life of people living under capitalism. This insistence on being an individual, a self-made man, is a double-edged sword. On [the] one hand, you are allowed to claim all of your achievements as a result of your own sense of self, but on the other hand all of your failures and shortcomings are yours as well. It’s within this context that the self-help and mental health industry positions itself: helping individuals [to] fight their demons alone. Good mental health is living happily as an individual. Bad mental health is dissatisfaction from living as an individual. But this is how you help people, on the scale of individuals.
But we are not individuals, or if we are [then] the term needs to surrender a lot of the power associated to it. We are people born into situations. Suburbanite parents on the hill say of young African-American boys “Well if I was born in the ghetto I would refuse to sell drugs.” No, you wouldn’t, because you wouldn’t be you then. The very act of saying “I” invokes your entire upbringing. Your very identity is constructed out of society. Society furnishes you with the raw materials out of which you make yourself. The proof of this is that we all identify with the word “I” but none of us invented it. We had to be taught it. At best, “I” refers to a mixture of your will and the larger environment, a compromise between the world you were born into and your desires for yourself that would have come true had it not been for the world. At worst, “I” is an amputation, a denial of the world that they exist in. This is where people like to play the same game as those suburbanite parents did: they like to imagine themselves as divorced from their circumstances, and able to jump into anyone’s life at anyone’s moment to cast judgment…
In addition, racial and gender inequalities as well as various forms of discrimination, polarization, marginalization, victimization, corruption and mismanagement can detrimentally affect the quality of life and also restrict the life chances of vulnerable citizens, especially those who have inadequate means, deprived welfare, limited visibility and meagre representation. The continual generating and even condoning of such disadvantages occasioning hardships, deprivations and sufferings coupled with their sheer visibility, prevalence, persistence and repercussions are very symptomatic of how certain societies accommodate their underprivileged civilians comprising not just low-wage workers, LGBTQIA+ communities, persons of colour, indigenous people, immigrants, refugees, prisoners, minorities, outliers, and victims of crime, violence or coercive control, but also the poor, homeless, old, infirm, mentally challenged, disabled or disfigured, as well as those who are misunderstood, ostracised, (intolerably) different, perceived to be a threat, or subjected to epistemic injustice, the last of which constitutes “unfair treatment that relates to issues of knowledge, understanding, and participation in communicative practices. These issues include a wide range of topics concerning wrongful treatment and unjust structures in meaning-making and knowledge producing practices” caused by ignoring, distrusting, disbelieving, discrediting, distorting, misrepresenting, misunderstanding, excluding, marginalizing or undervaluing an entity’s words (thus causing testimonial injustice) or an entity’s meanings, status, standing, agency, authority or contributions (thus causing hermeneutical injustice), either of which is perpetrated against the entity based on their culture, identity, race, sex, sexuality, gender presentation or disability; or based on how their experiences are (mis)interpreted by others due to their exclusion from awards, activities, events, societies and institutions (such as scholarships, literary circles, social clubs, symposiums, news media, universities and museums) devoted to understanding, describing and explaining human experiences, or their exclusion from participation in television production, filmmaking, journalism, publishing, academia, law and the other institutions and industries that help people to appreciate or make sense of the entity’s life, all too often a life at risk of or (con)strained by be(com)ing destitute, deprived, underprivileged, underrepresented, marginalized, exploited, oppressed, dehumanized or even persecuted. Most of the time, or far too often, the symptoms rather than the causes are addressed in severe cases or entrenched situations, even to the extent that both perpetrators and victims of injustice are ill-served by the prevailing systems or institutions and their respective laws and legislation.
In pondering the meaning of life, (im)mortality, purpose and time, Frank J Peter expresses his longing for living in the moment versus the uncertainty of the future in his post entitled “A Meditation on Life: Delayed Gratification”:
Wouldn’t it be nice if living in the moment was a simple matter of living for the moment?
Alas, life is not that easy for a creature who knows that tomorrow often matters more than today…
… so much so that today’s pleasure, comfort, ease, and safety must be sacrificed for a possibly better future…
… a future that may never come.
There lies a perennial confrontation of reality and a contradiction of expectation, etched in the faith, belief or conviction that tomorrow matters more, and in the fear, anxiety or apprehension that the conceivably nicer future may never eventuate. Faced with such an existential incongruity, one could be forgiven for showing a sign of resignation or a sense of acceptance, and for choosing to live in the moment for the moment, albeit momentarily, if not from time to time or even from moment to moment, “so that today’s pleasure, comfort, ease, and safety” can be remembered and appreciated in acknowledgment of their transience and finitude, and in anticipation of their coming into better fruition through delayed gratification. Moment matters as the respite, retreat or punctuation in a hurried life beset with vicissitudes.
Five days later, Frank J Peter affirmed in a post entitled “A Meditation on Life: Immortality” that whilst action necessarily occurs in the present, such action may involve transcending the limitations of present concerns through the imagined experience of other times and places outside one’s past or projected future, experience that maybe not only a source of pleasure but perhaps also a means of psychic and intellectual growth, as a way of transcending the ever-present existential constraints of “NOW”, and the transitory nature of the highs and lows in emotional life:
All I can do is NOW, but NOW is not all there is.
NOW is the opportunity to delight in the glorious privilege and responsibility of projecting my character beyond the fleeting joys and sorrows of the here and now to times and places I can never know or enjoy.
Could some novel approach to conducting scientific experiments provide tentative inklings or solid confirmations on the pragmatic, utilitarian, emotional, psychological, existential, phenomenological, spiritual or metaphysical aspects of living in the moment? Such experiments should ideally reveal that living in the moment is actually beneficial to the human psyche; that being in the moment calms the wayward mind and curbs its desire to revisit the past and project into the future; that the mind focussing on the moment is one that is less prone to ruminating on what is or is not happening; and that staying in the moment promotes harmony, peace, geniality, benevolence or contentment and reduces conflict, anxiety, aggression, malevolence or unhappiness.
Born out of a scientific research project investigating happiness and what makes life worth living, the innovative survey app (coded and designed by Visnu Pitiyanuvath) called “Track Your Happiness” was conceived by Harvard psychologist Daniel T Gilbert and Matthew Killingsworth as part of the latter’s doctoral research at Harvard University, after having majored in Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Economics in his Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Duke University, and having worked as a product manager in the software industry. As a Health and Society Scholar of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Matthew Killingsworth “studies the nature and causes of human happiness,… His recent research has focused on the relationship between happiness and the content of everyday experiences, the percentage of everyday experiences that are intrinsically valuable, and the degree of congruence between the causes of momentary happiness and of one’s overall satisfaction with life.”
According to the abstract of their research paper entitled “A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind”, the “Track Your Happiness” app allows people to report their feelings in real time by using “smartphone technology to sample people’s ongoing thoughts, feelings, and actions and found (i) that people are thinking about what is not happening almost as often as they are thinking about what is and (ii) found that doing so typically makes them unhappy.” The research outcome indicates that a mind focusing on the present is more conducive to happiness and better for people’s moods than a mind wandering or daydreaming. In other words, people are often happiest when they are lost in the moment. In contrast, the more their mind wanders, the less happy they tend to be. According to Lauren Schenkman who reported the survey results in her 2:01PM 11 Nov 2010 entry entitled “Daydreaming Is a Downer” published in the Science magazine of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS):
Snap out of it! That daydream you’re having about eloping to the Bahamas with Johnny Depp or Angelina Jolie is leaching away your happiness. In a new global study, researchers used iPhones to gauge the mental state of more than 2000 volunteers several times a day—even when they were having sex. The results indicate that, if you want to stay cheerful, you’re better off focusing on the present, no matter how unpleasant it is.
The human mind is remarkably good at straying from the moment. That ability allows us to remember the past, plan for the future, and “even imagine things that never occur at all,” says Matthew Killingsworth…
…The daydreaming was not good for people’s moods: Volunteers were unhappier when their thoughts were elsewhere. Statistical tests showed that mind-wandering earlier in the day correlated with a poorer mood later in the day, but not vice versa, suggesting that unhappiness with their current activity wasn’t prompting people to mentally escape. Instead, their wandering minds were the cause of their gloom. Mental drifting was a downer for subjects during even the dullest activities, like cleaning, the researchers found.…
The findings “challenge the foundations of psychology,” says Lisa Feldman Barrett, a psychologist and neuroscientist at Northeastern University in Boston, who pioneered data gathering with Palm Pilots. Psychologists assume that the mind responds to a stimulus out in the world, but in this study, “it almost looks like the stimulus is irrelevant.”
For people who are non-technically minded and unfamiliar with research methodology and statistical procedures, the one-page research paper of Daniel T Gilbert and Matthew Killingsworth entitled “A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind” can be abbreviated as follows:
Unlike other animals, human beings spend a lot of time thinking about what is not going on around them, contemplating events that happened in the past, might happen in the future, or will never happen at all. Indeed, “stimulus-independent thought” or “mind wandering” appears to be the brain’s default mode of operation (1–3). Although this ability is a remarkable evolutionary achievement that allows people to learn, reason, and plan, it may have an emotional cost. Many philosophical and religious traditions teach that happiness is to be found by living in the moment, and practitioners are trained to resist mind wandering and “to be here now.” These traditions suggest that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Are they right?
First, people’s minds wandered frequently, regardless of what they were doing. Mind wandering occurred in 46.9% of the samples and in at least 30% of the samples taken during every activity except making love.…
Second, multilevel regression revealed that people were less happy when their minds were wandering than when they were not [slope (b) = –8.79, P < 0.001], and this was true during all activities, including the least enjoyable.…
Third, what people were thinking was a better predictor of their happiness than was what they were doing.…
In conclusion, a human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.
As can be seen, the research paper begins with the premise that the intellectual ascent of the human species through the process of evolution is a double-edged sword insofar as the evolved mental capacity in humans to organize themselves for complex social life necessitates significant cognitive demands and social proclivities for perceiving, processing and predicting behavioural controls and intentions by mulling over past and future events, or replaying real and imaginary scenarios, all of which lead people to become perpetual mental captives wandering from thought to thought independent of mental stimuli and physical activities, as much as their nomadic hunter-gatherer ancestors had been wandering from place to place independent of the environmental potentials for settling down. Whilst the paper does not prescribe any remedy, it does suggests that the itinerant mind with its haphazard terrains can turn into the blissful mind with harmonizing landscapes when it can be reined in by philosophical disciplines, calmed by meditative practices, or settled by spiritual traditions. The research has been showcased on numerous media channels, including New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, NPR, Good Morning America, TEDxZaragoza and TedTalks, the last of which is shown bellow:
Considering that billions of people are using social media and smartphones in one form or another regularly, and thus surrendering themselves to the addictive trappings of digital life, virtual reality, gaming fantasy and other instantaneous online interactions whilst also multitasking and concentrating amidst various distractions in their real-life activities such as eating, drinking, driving, walking, talking, reading and so on, there are compelling reasons to heed the words of Jesse Hawley (a biologist, a freelance science writer and illustrator as well as a communications advisor at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)), who wrote imaginatively and persuasively in his essay entitled “6 Ways Facebook is a Life Leeching Succubus” as follows:
A mainstay of Eastern philosophy is living in the moment. It’s difficult to argue with the healthiness of this practice.
Basically, if you’re constantly thinking about the future ‘what’s for dinner’, ‘it’ll be so cool when the new Smash Bros. comes out’, ‘life will be much better when I have a real job’, then you will never experience the present — and thus you’ll live a virtual life. The ‘ideal’ life that you’ve always dreamed about can never be tasted in the present.…
That’s why it’s nice to eat slowly and clearly perceiving a nice meal. To ‘stop and smell the roses’ is both literal and figurative. Do it.
Enter: Facebook – **PHWOOOOAAR** – it stomps down the street, leaving a puddle of pus and garbage juice in its wake. It stomps over and throws the flower-smelling hippy into its gargantuan, gaping face orifice.
Maybe I’m exaggerating for the sake of illustration, but Facebook is certainly efficient at stopping people from living in the moment.
I’ll admit, sometimes FB users are living in the moment, but it’s someone else’s – like: what that someone else is eating for dinner right now.
Instead of experiencing a live show, the FB-possessed are too busy taking blurry, pixelated photos. Instead of enjoying nature, these people are scouting out ideal profile picture angles. Instead of thinking ‘how lucky we are to have the chance to even experience reality’, we are thinking ‘how can my current situation be synthesised into a status update?’
In other words, people who are overly fixating on what is supposed or expected to happen in the future (or the past for that matter) are missing out on the present, thus cocooning themselves in a prolonged state of suspense, expectancy or anticipation, and entrapping themselves in a mental bubble of unrelenting momentum, as if being in the present or living in the moment is synonymous with stagnation, procrastination, unproductivity or apathy. In a figurative sense, they are already living a virtual life, even without immersing themselves in the vast digital edifice of virtual reality and social media. Yet, this existential dilemma has been further intensified and exacerbated since contemporary modern lives have become increasingly mediated by the trappings of technology, readily causing interminable intrusions and unsustainable disruptions wrought by update overdrive, information overload and multimedia overdose, let alone engendering addiction, superficiality, narcissism, status anxiety, estrangement from reality, and alienation from Nature. If discretion is the better part of valour, then distraction is the bitter part of media.
Conclusion: Change Rules and Moment Matters
Living in the moment can have far more urgency and currency nowadays, given that the pace of population growth, social change, technological succession, information explosion and content oversaturation has caused everything to be even more likely to be cramped out of existence and to recede into the past, into oblivion, into irrelevance, into historical junkyards. Whereas data used to be most commonly sorted alphabetically or relationally, nowadays reverse chronological sorting has taken centre stage insofar as much of our lives is becoming a mediated reality in which the most recent information is listed first and given the highest priority or visibility. Nowhere is such privileging of the newest most glaringly adopted and thus saturating our daily lives than the news feeds and status updates in social media. Consequently, older information is often beyond easy reach or archived separately, accessible only via persistent scrolling downwards or through specific searches with keywords or dates, assuming that one could remember them or knew what to look for in the first place.
Paralleling hectic news cycles and incessant social media updates is the domain of academics and sciences, in which specialized scholars and researchers blindingly hone their skillsets on pinpointing minutiae to outshine others in their respective microniches via the latest breakthroughs, techniques and discoveries, often involving pushing or testing temporal, financial, social, ethical and/or environmental boundaries assertively, if not irrevocably or calamitously. Gone are the big narratives and grand syntheses, unless those involved have the time, fortitude and resources to become mavericks pursuing truly revolutionary research or going against prevailing trends to wield long and meandering strokes on the large canvass of a book, let alone a multi-chapter magnum opus. The celebrated stars and their newest games in town manifesting as fashionable trends and eye-opening gadgets propped up by a potent mix, convergence or confluence of marketing strategy, intellectual property and artificial intelligence often shine all too briefly as they are inexorably eclipsed or replaced by the next big things, most of which are in turn destined for desuetude, outmodedness or unfashionableness, and thus heading towards elimination or extinction. In the world of works, ideas, narratives and identities, it would seem that authors have to contend with, or even build in, obsolescence in their stories, characters and creations, if not their very own career aspirations, trajectories and mobilities, insofar as life is a stage, and increasingly a stage occupied with fast moving act(or)s and rapidly changing scene(rie)s, which are themselves progressively augmented, audited or even supplanted by automatons and automations as well as simulations and assimilations, such that real-life is evermore lived through or captured by digital (re)presentations and virtual (re)creations, as exemplified by those populating the vast edifices of social media and online worlds, particularly Second Life, a computer-based simulated environment, where altered identities thrive in alternative realities. The concept of, and the condition for, a job for life, or even a profession for life, are becoming progressively strained, if not antediluvian, as automations and technologies replace more sections of both the blue- and white-collar domains, increasing the volatility of both the job market and individual careers. If the pace and amplitude of change were to continue, there would be considerable doubt as to how human beings, especially those who are the most unprepared, unsupported, affected, disrupted, disadvantaged or disenfranchised, would ever possess the emotional stamina and economic buffer to withstand and weather a life of constant flux and shifting reality. Whilst those who subscribe to technoutopianism would be inclined to believe or assert that automations and technologies are “neutral” because they are merely “tools” whose impacts depend on their users, they would be foolhardy and myopic to deny or ignore that automations and technologies are not only like “words” reflecting people’s narratives, needs, desires, pursuits and worldviews, but also like “swords” with double edges capable of cutting both ways, often resulting in unforeseen or unintended consequences that can be profound, far-reaching or even irreversible. After all, such “tools” and their creation, auditing and maintenance are not always the natural outcome, inevitable result or preordained progress of scientific advances. They are frequently the dynamic reflection and interplay of sociopolitical (f)actors and choices, rather than just objective products, rational outputs and efficient outcomes of technologies, especially when:
- Ecosystemic principles, human rights principles and democratic decision-making are deficient or ignored.
- Market logic or neoliberalism is consistently allowed to prevail at the expense of human rights and autonomy to the detriment of liberty, sociocultural capital and ecosystemic integrity.
- Artificial intelligence systems cause unforeseen repercussions or engage in biases and discriminations to the detriment of equality, diversity and sustainability.
- Analytics, algorithms and outputs of artificial intelligence replicate or exacerbate biases in extant data and policies, or entrench inbuilt forms of discrimination, corruption or malversation.
- The technology industry is controlled by market-driven definitions of efficiency and skewed towards (re)producing gadgets and services for the affluent and powerful at the expense of taking full account of the humanity and catering for all and sundry, particularly the most vulnerable, disadvantaged or impoverished.
“Existence is a series of footnotes to a vast, obscure, unfinished masterpiece”, according to Vladimir Nabokov. In that case, may the mystery of reality and the machinery of existence occasionally permit extraordinary mental clarity and vividness when we inhabit the moment! Perhaps the moment will be a very special one to remember and treasure, as it materializes at the serendipitous arrival of an epiphany; at the critical juncture of making a discovery; at the long-awaited instance of reaching a milestone; at the unique occasion of gaining an insight; at the precipice of losing the ego; at the rare summit of attaining enlightenment; at the steady conscious realization of reality’s transience; at the total surrender and acceptance of change and becoming; at the state of psychological stability and composure reached via equanimity; or at the seemingly unchanging reality of unadulterated clarity and pure awareness free from the foibles, follies and frailties of the body and mind. In any case, certain philosophical traditions and spiritual practices advocate that “living in the present moment — being fully aware of what is happening, and not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future… [by] focus[ing] on one’s current position in space and time (rather than future considerations, or past reminiscence) will aid one in relieving suffering.”
Whilst our sense of space and time is rooted in human biology and the laws of physics, it is also coloured by our sense of identity, cultural values, received wisdoms, contemporary modes of thought, epistemic principles and the like. Hence, it would be highly illuminating for those who are more technically minded or analytically inclined to be inducted into the philosophy of space and time, defined as follows:
…the branch of philosophy concerned with the issues surrounding the ontology, epistemology, and character of space and time. While such ideas have been central to philosophy from its inception, the philosophy of space and time was both an inspiration for and a central aspect of early analytic philosophy. The subject focuses on a number of basic issues, including whether time and space exist independently of the mind, whether they exist independently of one another, what accounts for time’s apparently unidirectional flow, whether times other than the present moment exist, and questions about the nature of identity (particularly the nature of identity over time).
In particular, the present moment, as far as the conscious mind can perceive it, is the only frame, window or medium that allows the presence of any mind or entity, and that permits the happening of any thought or event. Even though space and time (can be assumed or proven to) have existence apart from the human mind and body, the reverse is not true, since any mind or entity can neither exist outside space and time, nor traverse autonomously, at will or whim, the spacetime continuum to inhabit or visit the past or future, according to the scope of presentism:
In the philosophy of space and time, presentism is the belief that only the present exists, and the future and past are unreal. Past and future “entities” are construed as logical constructions or fictions. The opposite of presentism is ‘eternalism’, which is the belief that things in the past and things yet to come exist eternally. Another view (not held by many philosophers) is sometimes called the ‘growing block’ theory of time — which postulates that the past and present exist, but the future does not.
In a very real sense, both the past and future are dependent on, or are conditioned by, the present, insofar as how the past and future appear or present to us can vary with our beings, moods, values, outlooks, cultures, worldviews, biases, preferences, priorities and technologies. Indeed, at any moment, we are prone to project our current mindset and assumptions onto the past and future. Moreover, whether or not the past and future are imaginary if the present is the only tangible entity, humanity is still left with plentiful uncertainties about the exactness of the past and the inevitability of the future, insofar as the aims and means of accessing and remembering the past as well as forecasting and preparing for the future are neither infallible nor immutable, given that past events are unchangeable, existing retrospectively in memories, recollections and recorded histories, and that future events are unmanageable, existing prospectively in minds, plans and speculations.
In other words, even if our pasts exist, they are certainly well beyond our complete grasp and remembrance, as we continually forget and gloss over vast amounts of details and life events, whilst relying on the fidelity and capacity of our memories, recollections and recorded histories to save us from complete oblivion. We are largely deprived of the luxury of surveying entire lives as they unfold through time, unable to rewind, pause or fast-forward at will to examine the choices that people make and how those choices pan out. In contrast, our futures are both illusive and elusive as they channel through the natural agency of causality as well as the spatial, temporal and existential efficacy of determinism, where even our fundamental sense of free will can be ultimately baseless, illusory or precluded, leaving fate, fortune or destiny to rule the roost in spite of our best minds, plans and speculations.
That being the case, the claim or notion that only the present exists whereas the past and future do not, can still be regarded as being somewhat counterintuitive, if not somehow annoying, irritating, provoking or nonsensical. The thought or realization that existence is narrowly confined to the very present, from moment to moment, each of which is inevitably ephemeral and ultimately intractable, can be quite humbling, sobering or even vexing. It is therefore unsurprising that many insightful philosophers and inquisitive thinkers have long contemplated the impermanence of things and attempted to peer below the veneer of existence in order to fathom the depths of reality and the mysteries of existence through process philosophy (also known as processism, philosophy of organism, or ontology of becoming), which “regards change as the cornerstone of reality”, “identifies metaphysical reality with change and development”, and “covers not just scientific intuitions and experiences, but can be used as a conceptual bridge to facilitate discussions among religion, philosophy, and science”. For example, around 535 to 475 BC, the lonesome pre-Socratic Greek philosopher named Heraclitus of Ephesus, who considered himself to be a self-taught pioneer of wisdom, was well-known for his emphasis on ever-present change (as being the fundamental essence) of the world or universe, as indicated in his famous sayings:
“Nothing endures but change.”
“It is in changing that we find purpose.”
“Change is the only constant in life.”
“The only thing that is constant is change.”
“There is nothing permanent except change.”
“All entities move and nothing remains still.”
“Everything changes and nothing remains still … and … you cannot step twice into the same stream.”
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
Change has come to be regarded as the essential rather than the accidental aspect of matter and life, since Heraclitus becomes “the first philosopher for whom there exists an extant written account of an enquiry into change.” As the philosopher of becoming rather than of being, Heraclitus recognizes the fundamental changing of objects with the flow of time through his doctrine of the constant flux of matters. In other words, reality is intrinsically unstable since everything is (always in) flux. Nothing in the universe can be permanent or just permanently is. Everything is continually changing such that things come into existence in various ways or manifest themselves in different fashions, and hence are never identical for two consecutive moments as long as they exist, and therefore can never last forever and will eventually go out of existence. Since perpetual transition or transformation is the order of things, what we perceive or conceive as “things” are not actually stable objects or matters at all. In this regard, Heraclitus likens them to flames, which appear to be objects, but are really not so much matters as processes, through which endless series of transformations happen simultaneously and instantaneously. The notion that reality is rooted in process rather than substance is as profound as it is disconcerting and revolutionary, considering that human beings have always coveted stability, permanence and even immortality through their cultures, monuments and spiritual beliefs, in which reliability, posterity or perpetuity can be achieved or hoped for. Process philosophy sweeps away the certitudes that humanity covets, and treats material manifestations as though they are mere flickers of light emanating from flames, appearing and then disappearing into thin air. No flickers are ever the same and can never be seen again.
Since the time of Plato and Aristotle, philosophers have imagined or posited true reality to be timeless and based on permanent substances, whilst processes are denied or subordinated to timeless substances. Change is accidental, whereas the substance is essential. Therefore, classic ontology rejects or denies any full reality to change, which is conceived as only accidental and not essential. This classical ontology is what made (a theory of) knowledge possible, as it was believed that a science of something in becoming was an impossible feat to achieve. Opposing the classical model of change as merely accidental (as argued by Aristotle) or entirely illusory, devoid of any essence, reality or substance, is the new existential paradigm of process philosophy, which identifies metaphysical reality with change and development; and which regards change as the foundation of reality — the very basis of being conceived as becoming. In such a reality, change is the law of life, the law of universe, the law of everything, as fundamental as cause and effect, ruling over all and sundry. Nothing in such a reality is constant except change and becoming. A radical departure from the classical conception of substance, permanence and change, process philosophy compels (us to believe, admit or endure) that nothing can ever escape from change or evade mutability. In Western philosophy, the significance, profundity and universality of change and becoming are still not lost on many modern philosophers and thinkers particularly in (relation to) issues of ontological commitment and metaphysical problems regarding time, matter, mind, existence, persistence and change. The following two Wikipedia excerpts respectively summarize Nietzsche’s and Hegel’s seminal views on becoming versus being:
German philosopher Friedrich [Wilhelm] Nietzsche wrote that Heraclitus “will remain eternally right with his assertion that being is an empty fiction”. Nietzsche developed the vision of a chaotic world in perpetual change and becoming. The state of becoming does not produce fixed entities, such as being, subject, object, substance, thing. These false concepts are the necessary mistakes which consciousness and language employ in order to interpret the chaos of the state of becoming. The mistake of Greek philosophers was to falsify the testimony of the senses and negate the evidence of the state of becoming. By postulating being as the underlying reality of the world, they constructed a comfortable and reassuring “after-world” where the horror of the process of becoming was forgotten, and the empty abstractions of reason appeared as eternal entities.
In the Logic, for instance, Hegel describes a dialectic of existence: first, existence must be posited as pure Being (Sein); but pure Being, upon examination, is found to be indistinguishable from Nothing (Nichts). When it is realized that what is coming into being is, at the same time, also returning to nothing (in life, for example, one’s living is also a dying), both Being and Nothing are united as Becoming.
More recently, Joseph John Campbell (26 March 1904 – 30 October 1987), an American Professor of Literature at Sarah Lawrence College working in comparative mythology and comparative religion, also emphasized becoming over being in his endeavour to formulate and popularize his approach to narratology and myth pattern studies. The result of his endeavour culminated in his seventeen-stage monomyth or hero’s journey, in which the seventeenth and final stage is attained after the hero is transformed by the adventure and gains wisdom or spiritual power, the complete mastery of which ushers in the freedom from the fear of death, which in turn leads to the freedom to live, and indeed the freedom to live in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past, as Campbell wrote:
The hero is the champion of things becoming, not of things become, because he is. “Before Abraham was, I AM.” He does not mistake apparent changelessness in time for the permanence of Being, nor is he fearful of the next moment (or of the ‘other thing’), as destroying the permanent with its change. ‘Nothing retains its own form; but Nature, the greater renewer, ever makes up forms from forms. Be sure there’s nothing perishes in the whole universe; it does but vary and renew its form.’ Thus the next moment is permitted to come to pass.
The ontological shift from substance (being) to process (becoming) brings the Western conception of metaphysical reality much closer to the Eastern counterparts, particularly those of Zen and Mahayana philosophy as well as various schools of Hinduism and Jainism with respect to their acceptance and contemplation of the imperfection, constant flux and impermanence of all things, such that
all of conditioned existence, without exception, is “transient, evanescent, inconstant”. All temporal things, whether material or mental, are compounded objects in a continuous change of condition, subject to decline and destruction.
In conclusion, whilst moment matters, matters change. It is the eternal human condition to embrace the present and to live with change, not just in good and bad times, but also in the remembrance of a bygone era, in the reminiscence of a cherished event, in the celebration of a notable achievement, in the recollection of an inherited story, in the curation of a momentous past, and in the hope for a meaningful prospect or sensible future to arrive, at any moment, if not at the best moment.
THE WINNERS OF THE BEST MOMENT AWARD ARE:
- Caroline Bakker
- Swati Atul
- Inside the Mind of Isadora
- Motivational Rants!
- A World Traveler Who Is Spiritual
- Sylvie Ashford
- George Hayward
- Liesl Gordon
- N. Hülya Yılmaz
[Note: The winners listed above are originally designated by MomentMatters.com]
Don’t forget to celebrate with your followers! Tweet your success with hashtag #MomentMatters. Congratulations, winners!
Please kindly be informed that SoundEagle🦅 has also been given the same award by Melanie Jean Juneau at http://themotherofnine9.wordpress.com/2013/06/30/best-moment-award/, where her excellent “speech” or “confession” oozes with an intimate account of her personal journey into the world of blogosphere, which has enabled the blossoming of her creative side and nurturing quality. Melanie’s gift and that from Moment Matters have turned the BEST MOMENT AWARD into a double honour.
[Note: MomentMatters.com seems to be defunct.]
Staying in the here and now, or living in the moment, is not exclusively a new-age concept or slogan expounded by some modern-day spiritual gurus or free-willing proponents such as Eckhart Tolle, the renowned author of “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment”. Its profundity is not lost to the best of ancient philosophers who were attempting to comprehend reality and understand the world by deploying the power of reasoning and the cogency of rationality without appealing or deferring to superstition, revelation, religion, authority or tradition, let alone succumbing to peer pressure or herd mentality. Focussing on the moment is indeed one of the cornerstones of Stoicism, which is described in Wikipedia as follows:
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy that flourished throughout the Roman and Greek world until the 3rd century AD. Stoicism was founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC, and was heavily influenced by certain teachings of Socrates, while stoic physics are largely drawn from the teachings of the philosopher Heraclitus. Stoicism is predominantly a philosophy of personal ethics which is informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to happiness for humans is found in accepting this moment as it presents itself, by not allowing ourselves to be controlled by our desire for pleasure or our fear of pain, by using our minds to understand the world around us and to do our part in nature’s plan, and by working together and treating others in a fair and just manner.
In other words, the goal of life according to Stoicism is to live in accordance with Nature through the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming unruly and destructive emotions. The following quotations demonstrate that Marcus Aurelius, a practitioner of Stoicism who became Roman emperor from 161 to 180AD, exhibits the conviction of his own guidance and self-improvement to focus on the here and now. The aim is to stay calm and focused by withdrawing from the hustle and bustle of existence, and from the wasteful lapses of the wandering mind:
“Confine yourself to the present.”
“Forget everything else. Keep hold of this alone and remember it: Each one of us lives only now, this brief instant. The rest has been lived already, or is impossible to see.”
“Every hour focus your mind attentively on the performance of the task in hand, with dignity, human sympathy, benevolence and freedom, and leave aside all other thoughts. You will achieve this, if you perform each action as if it were your last.”
― Marcus Aurelius (Meditations)
Marcus Aurelius once said,
“Time is like a river made up of the events which happen, and a violent stream; for as soon as a thing has been seen, it is carried away, and another comes in its place, and this will be carried away too.”
This stoic analogy is a useful one to consider when going through the inevitable vicissitudes of life. The events that occur in our lives and arise in time are transient. Each event flowing down the river.
Stoicism invites us to consider a different outlook when we are tasked with overcoming negativity in life. The stoic approach is to accept each and every event entirely and to simply change or perceptions about them.
This change in perception in some instances is all that we have, we must constantly exercise this human endowment.
Time is like a river which ends with a waterfall. The waterfall is symbolic of our deaths. The stoic comes to term with his death long before it happens. He see’s [sic] no point in worrying about that which is not within his power, he understand that wisdom lies in completely accepting the fate of the human condition.
Time is a river that moves only in one direction, forward. The stoic learns to enjoy the ride of life, she enjoys the happy days but does not cling onto them. Fundamentally she understands that good days just like bad days are borrowed, they will not last because the nature of life is change ‘transience’.
The Stoic makes loves to the present moment, nothing besides it could ever be sweeter. The past is an illusion its events being shadows that have been warped by the mind, the future is a mystery not worth entertaining. The present is all that is real to the stoic, the present is indeed a present, life the greatest gift.
― Issac Therealizedman (Therealizedman and Three Lessons From Three Stoics | How to conquer life)
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
One of the best, unforeseen consequence of simplifying our lives is it has allowed us to begin living our lives in the present. Eliminating nonessential possessions has freed us from many of the emotions associated with past lives that were keeping us stuck. And clearing our home has allowed us the freedom to shape our lives today around our most important values.
Choosing to live in the past or the future not only robs you of enjoyment today, it robs you of truly living. The only important moment is the present moment. With that goal in mind, consider this list of ten tips below to start living your life in the present:
- Remove unneeded possessions.
- Fully appreciate the moments of today.
- Forgive past hurts.
- Love your job.
- Dream about the future, but work hard today.
- Don’t dwell on past accomplishments.
- Stop worrying.
- Think beyond old solutions to problems.
- Conquer addictions.
― Joshua Becker (becomingminimalist.com)
Life unfolds in the present. But so often, we let the present slip away, allowing time to rush past unobserved and unseized, and squandering the precious seconds of our lives as we worry about the future and ruminate about what’s past. “We’re living in a world that contributes in a major way to mental fragmentation, disintegration, distraction, decoherence,” says Buddhist scholar B. Alan Wallace. We’re always doing something, and we allow little time to practice stillness and calm.
We need to live more in the moment. Living in the moment—also called mindfulness—is a state of active, open, intentional attention on the present. When you become mindful, you realize that you are not your thoughts; you become an observer of your thoughts from moment to moment without judging them. Mindfulness involves being with your thoughts as they are, neither grasping at them nor pushing them away. Instead of letting your life go by without living it, you awaken to experience.
Living in the moment involves a profound paradox: You can’t pursue it for its benefits. That’s because the expectation of reward launches a future-oriented mindset, which subverts the entire process. Instead, you just have to trust that the rewards will come. There are many paths to mindfulness—and at the core of each is a paradox. Ironically, letting go of what you want is the only way to get it. Here are a few tricks to help you along.
- To improve your performance, stop thinking about it (unselfconsciousness).
- To avoid worrying about the future, focus on the present (savouring).
- If you want a future with your significant other, inhabit the present (breathe).
- To make the most of time, lose track of it (flow).
- If something is bothering you, move toward it rather than away from it (acceptance).
- Know that you don’t know (engagement).
― Jay Dixit (psychologytoday.com)
Being present is the only way to enjoy life to the fullest. These realistic tips turn everyday activities into opportunities to be mindful.
Are you living in the present?
The idea of being mindful—being present, being more conscious of life as it happens—may seem contradictory to those who are used to sacrificing living for pursuing their goals, but cultivating mindfulness will help you [to] achieve your goals and enjoy life more. In fact, you’re more productive when you’re mindful, among other science-backed benefits.
But more importantly, being present is undoubtedly the only way to enjoy life to the fullest. By being mindful, you enjoy your food more, you enjoy friends and family more, you enjoy anything you’re doing more. Anything. Even things you might think are drudgery or boring, such as housework, can be amazing if you are truly present. Try it: Wash dishes or sweep or cook, and remain fully present. It takes practice, but it’s incredible.
- Do one thing at a time
- Act slowly and deliberately
- Do less
- Put space between things
- Spend at least five minutes each day doing nothing
- Stop worrying about the future
- When you’re talking to someone, pay attention
- Eat slowly and savour your food
- Live slowly and savour your life
- Make cleaning and cooking become meditation
― Leo Babauta (rd.com)
Living in the moment is not always easy. Sometimes our thoughts are overwhelmed by regrets about past events or anxiety about the future, which can make it hard to enjoy the present. If you are having a hard time living in the moment, there are some simple strategies that may help. There are little things that you can do throughout your day, such as creating a mindfulness cue, learning to meditate, and performing random acts of kindness. Keep reading to learn more about how to live in the moment.
Method 1: Developing Your Awareness
- Start small.
- Notice sensory details about routine activities.
- Redirect your mind when it wanders.
- Choose a mindfulness cue.
- Change a routine.
- Learn how to meditate
Method 2: Incorporating Mindful Activities
- Be grateful for breaks.
- Focus on one part of your body.
- Smile and laugh more often.
- Practice gratitude.
- Do kind things for others.
What does it mean to live fully in the present moment? It means that your awareness is completely centered on the here and now. You are not worrying about the future or thinking about the past. When you live in the present, you are living where life is happening. The past and future are illusions, they don’t exist. As the saying goes “tomorrow never comes”. Tomorrow is only a concept, tomorrow is always waiting to come around the corner, but around that corner are shadows, never to have light shed upon, because time is always now.
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha
Why living in the present will change your life.
If you’re not living in the present, you’re living in illusion. That seems to a be a pretty good reason to live in the present, doesn’t it? But how often are we worrying about things that have yet to come, how often do we beat ourselves up for mistakes that we’ve made, no matter how much time has passed? The answer is too much. Not only will living in the present have a dramatic effect on your emotional well-being, but it can also impact your physical health. It’s long been known that the amount of mental stress you carry can have a detrimental impact on your health. If you’re living in the present, you’re living in acceptance. You’re accepting life as it is now, not as how you wish it would have been. When you’re living in acceptance, you realize everything is complete as it is. You can forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made, and you can have peace in your heart knowing that everything that should happen will.
“If you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.” -Unknown
- Don’t try to quiet your mind
- You are not your thoughts
- Breathe, you’re alive
- Music for meditation
- Practice mindfulness
― Dominika and Cedric (paidtoexist.com)
Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. — Denis Waitley
We’re always worrying or planning for the next “big” thing, never just living in the moment.… overall, the general state of affairs in peoples’ lives is that of worry, grief, anxiety, and fear. Simply put, we’re not happy, we’re not present, and we don’t live in the here-and-now.
Now, the difference between being present and being happy is miniscule. Truly happy people are able to live in the moment, all the time. They’re able to be present, and simply enjoy the journey of life, and not just worry about the destination.…
- Daily Gratitude
- Physical Activity
- Limit Distractions
- Find a Way to Give
- Find the Beauty in Something
― Robert L Adams (wanderlustworker.com)
Wonder and curiosity chase the future. Reflection and contemplation encompass the past. The present, however, is often lost on us. Living in the moment could change your life for the better, so why do you lose yourself to your thoughts on what’s next or worry about what’s happening elsewhere? Looking to the future can provide hope, especially through difficult times. Reflecting on the past can also provide healing and closure. Focusing on either one obsessively, however, quickly becomes deteriorating to our mental and emotional health.
Simply put: the mind doesn’t like to be still, it likes to be engaged through this constant absorption of surrounding stimuli. Due to the mind’s nature, it can be a challenge to solely reflect, sit in stillness and just think. If we’re constantly thinking about somewhere we are not, the subconscious mind will focus on this without us even realizing it. In choosing to actively concentrate on the present, we direct both our subconscious and conscious minds back to reality, surrounding people, and present opportunities. However, this often involves an active decision on your part to focus on the present moment.
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “What you put into an experience, you get out of an experience”. In order to glean more from daily life, much more effort is required when it comes to actively focusing on the present. According to Psychology Today, “Living in the moment—also called mindfulness – is a state of active, open, intentional attention on the present”. In reality, the present is all that exists. For a successful, bright future to be possible, we must live for today, both recognizing the possibilities and seizing the opportunities we have today.
- How “savouring the moment” is a fantastic way to begin an active way of thinking
- Active Engagement
- Practice a “Do Nothing Moment”
- Learn to Let Go
― Kelly-Grace Struble (thoughtcatalog.com)
We meditate so we can develop the art of being here, with what is going on around us, right now. We know that the mind doesn’t stay in that “Right now mode” on a continuous basis, but we can learn to reach forward and reach back while we return to the moment because we have the tools to do so. The message is that we don’t need to work our asses off trying to be here all the time. Working your butt off trying to be something you are is a waste of time. What we want to achieve is to slowly narrow the parameters of time until we are right here. A big part of this process relies on not stopping at the idea of being in the moment. Being in the moment is only a fragment of the whole experience of being human. We need to experience the whole process.
We practice to be in the moment like a ball player practices the game. She may receive some insights on playing the game by reading, watching, talking, and thinking, but these remain useless unless she starts to play. Both areas are valuable and complement each other.
We want to practice meditation in both directions.
One, we narrow our focus to right now.
Two, we expand our focus from the now. KEEPING A FRAGMENT OF THE NOW WITH US.
― Bryan Wagner (peoplesdharma.com)
The goal of life is to learn to live in the moment. Not bothered by past experiences, not worried about future possibilities. Living means experiencing now, because you can only live in the now.
But we lose that understanding of life progressively as we get into adulthood.
We learn all the wrong things. We start learning how to stay in the past or travel to future all the time.
Then we decide that we need to unlearn them.
When we decide on that, this is how the natural process of unlearning goes:
We get obsessed with a future goal; fail to get it; try again; fail to get it again; try again…
Until that one moment comes and we decide that obsessing over that goal is not that meaningful after all.
When we repeat this process for many other goals, we make a generalization: obsessing over the future often does not work out in the intended way.
Then, in the meantime, we also get stuck with past experiences. We try to forget them; we still remember them; we try again; fail again; try again; fail again.
When we repeat this process for many other experiences, we make a generalization: obsessing over the past does not help in our quest of how to live in the moment.
Then, we repeat this process for many other experiences until we generalize it to our whole past.
Once we get to a good point on both of these sides, past and future, we start living more in the moment.
But here is the catch: If we look at the two sides of this natural process, there are two words that that repeat more than others:
Try and fail
Because in that process, we try many times and fail many times.
We keep trying because unlearning brings in resistance.
We fail many times because we lost how to be in touch with reality of the now long ago. We don’t know how to do it.
At the end of this process, if we are consistent enough, we will certainly achieve something.
But not necessarily a future goal.
But we can certainly achieve our selves.
― Betul Erbasi (betulerbasi.com)
Animals have much to teach us, and in many ways, if we acted more like them, as a species we humans might be better off — and a lot happier too. Mindfulness is a skill that helps many of us cope with daily life and eases the symptoms of depression, trauma, and many mental disorders — and there is no person more mindful than a cat, dog, or other animal. Even the Buddha was never as mindful as that Labrador retriever who looks at you with such soulful eyes, or that cat that sits peacefully in your window purring his little heart out.
If you have pets, watch them closely. They don’t worry about the future or fret over things that happened in the past. They don’t obsess over themselves or what others are going to think of them. They don’t beat themselves up over past transgressions or worry that they might not be acceptable. They live completely in the moment, reacting only to what they need to in order to survive and be happy. When they are given food, they happily nosh down on it, thinking about nothing except how good it tastes and how nice a newly-full stomach feels. If you ask your dog if he wants to go out for a walk, he doesn’t sit around sulking because he thought your tone was condescending; he happily jumps up and starts to dance around, sometimes even smiling (I am certain [that] dogs can smile). If you scritch [sic] your cat under the chin, she will turn her face up to you, squint her eyes so [that] they are almost closed, and begin to purr. She doesn’t worry that you might think she has bad breath. She doesn’t care! Watch a group of otters at play. They are like happy children, enjoying the water and the bliss of splashing around and swimming in it, and the joy of being together as a group.
― Lauren Bennett (luckyottershaven.com)
Instead of living for the moment, it is better to live for the past—as you’d prefer to remember that moment, and your life in general. Indeed, time is fleeting. The present moment barely exists. The moment you become conscious of it, it’s over.
Today is tomorrow’s yesterday. Are you living today to give your tomorrow-self something to build off? Will you have momentum tomorrow based on your choices today? Or are you just putting off needed change until some future day?
Living for the past is really living in the present. It’s realizing that—as a forward thinking person—you’re living in the past right now. What you do right now determines the future you hope to create.
- Living for the past informs how you live in the present.
- How you feel about your past determines your confidence in the present.
- Living for the past allows you to design your ideal future.
- Living for the past empowers you to make harder and better choices.
― Benjamin Hardy (greatist.com)
When they stop listening to the voice in their head that are feeding them lies, when they start living in the present and forget about past of future, then they are witnessing the truth, they are witnessing heaven on earth.
“No one besides Allah can rescue a soul from hardship.” In other words, life is your escape from pain. Once you accept life, the present moment, stop identifying with your mind and the pain that follows it, the pain will no longer affect you. You will know that it is not truly your pain.
“I am life and only trough me can you reach heaven.” Jesus was not talking about himself. He was talking about life. When you come back to life, when you see the truth, when you live in the Now, you will reach heaven. He is not referring to a place but a state of mind, or rather a state of no mind. You detach from your mind. You no longer identify with it. You are not your thoughts. You are the awareness behind them, the one that is aware of the thinking. You are the listener, the observer. “The Devil” is in your mind and when you stop listening to “him”, you escape hell.
Once you experience living in the present moment with no attachment to your mind, you will feel a such joy that cannot be described. It’s as if you are seeing the world for the first time. Buddha called this enlightenment “the end of all suffering” and it is absolutely possible for every single one of us to experience this. You do not have to have any knowledge about anything regarding this topic. It is not about learning, it is about unlearning. You accept this moment and let go of your mind. Just be.
― Dennis Laumark (resetdennis.wordpress.com)
Unfortunately, planning can adversely affect everything that we are currently doing. Thinking about what’s in store in the future can take over how we express ourselves by causing us to act in a manner that doesn’t reflect our current mood and situation. In doing so, the people around us can be hurt by our selfishness. For example, stressing over tomorrow’s test can make us unappreciative and curt while having a family dinner. It’s only fair to others that we do our best to refrain from thinking about the future.
But no matter how hard we try, we have far from perfect control over our lives. We can think about the future and imagine how it will materialize, but we can never truly ensure that everything will work out the way we want it to. You always hear that cheesy quote about “living in the moment.” I believe a better, and much more telling quote is one that cartoonist Bill Watterson said: “We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.”
However, there are times when I know that living in the moment is just not possible. It’s romantic, good-intentioned, yet idealistic of people to say that the only thing that’s important is the present. It’s simply impractical to never plan or think of the past. Thinking and reflecting about the past allows us to learn from our mistakes. Without dwelling, at least to a certain extent, about our past, we would never develop into intelligent beings. The same idea is true about planning for the future. We wish the future to be promising, and the only way to achieve that in our busy lives is to plan accordingly.
…People who are experiencing immense stress and emotions should be allowed to not live in the moment. They should even be encouraged to plan for the future. The reasoning behind this is simple. To relieve themselves of whatever is pressuring them, people need to plan so that their future selves will be in a better situation. Only then will they have the ability to live in the moment.
― Kai Sherwin (huffingtonpost.com)
At times, it is just as important that we “step outside of the moment,” and interpret our world from a broader viewpoint.
The benefits of reflecting on the past
One benefit we don’t get from only living in the moment is reflecting on our past and learning from our mistakes.…Research indicates that reflection is key to learning.
The benefits of planning for the future
Living a happy, healthy, and successful life often requires adequate planning and foresight. It rarely happens by accident.
Therefore, looking forward into the future is often just as important as reflecting backwards on our past, or living in the moment.
The benefits of mind-wandering
…some research suggests that mind-wandering and daydreaming can actually come with some valuable benefits.
Of course, daydreaming can be counterproductive (especially when it leads to procrastination), but other times letting our minds wander can aid in creativity and problem-solving.
This is because sometimes things distract our attention because we find them new and interesting. And keeping our minds open to different thoughts and sensations can help [to] increase our opportunity to discover new ideas.
“Living in the moment” – a common excuse to be impulsive and reckless?
With such a mindset, you may find yourself drinking lots of alcohol, taking drugs, and engaging in unsafe sex with strangers. And why not? You’re just reacting to your immediate surroundings, you’re not seeing the bigger picture of your actions, so you act in ways that only bring immediate satisfaction.
In this example, “living in the moment” becomes an excuse to find short-term gratification, but ignore long-term consequences. This is a misapplication of living in the present.
When to “live in the moment” – and when not to
The ability to “step outside your immediate senses” – and also reflect on the past, and plan for the future – are often just as important to your happiness and health.
In fact, reflection and foresight are valuable adaptations of the human mind that have greatly helped our evolution over time. They are also what distinguish us from more primitive minds, which can only react to information they receive on a momentary basis, and therefore can’t form memories or project into the future.
…There needs to be a balance between these different modes of awareness in order to have a healthy, functioning mind.
― Steven Handel (theemotionmachine.com)
Very many of us suffer from a peculiar-sounding problem: an inability to properly inhabit the stretch of time we call ‘the present’.
Maybe we’re on a beautiful beach on a sunny day, the sky is azure and the palm trees slender and implausibly delicate, but most of ‘us’ isn’t actually here at all, it’s somewhere at work or in imaginary discussion with a rival or plotting a new enterprise.…
What is it that makes the present, especially the nicer moments of the present, so difficult to experience properly? And why, conversely, can so many events feel easier to enjoy, appreciate and perceive, when they are firmly over?
― The Book of Life (thebookoflife.org)
There is no point,
at which to turn,
though, to be fair,
there’s always a moment to savour,
like that last morsel of a sumptuous meal,
dripping with exquisite jus,
it is collected to the body memory,
and which shall be revisited,
longing to repeat such divinity.
But life itself is a constant turning,
like the constellations,
yet ever moving,
so too the apparent points of our lives,
and yet we cage life,
that we might take command of it,
failing at every turn,
as the universe smiles,
at our innocence,
ever mischievously flinging detritus in our paths.
― Paul Vincent Cannon (pvcann.com)
A moment without thought
And the background noise ceases
And I can suddenly hear
The silence between sounds
The silence beneath sound
From which all sounds emerge
Like waves from the sea.
A moment without thought
And the fog disperses
And the world is filled with translucent light
New dimensions of detail
And sharpness and colour and depth.
A moment without thought
And these suburban streets
Are a pristine new world
Like a garden glistening with dew
The morning after creation
As if a husk of familiarity
Has cracked and fallen away
Leaving naked primal isness.
A moment without thought
And I’m no longer standing separate
No longer an island but part of the sea
No longer a static centre
But part of the flowing stream.
A moment without thought
And the train has stopped between stations
And there was never any motion, never any track
A moment like a wormhole
Like stepping through a narrow gate
To find an endless open plain
The panorama of the present.
And this new world of no-thought
Is neither alien nor unfamiliar
But a place where benevolence blows through the air
And soft shimmering energy fills every space
And the sunlight is the translucent white light of spirit
The deepest, closest, warmest place
The ground where I am rooted.
― Steve Taylor (stevenmtaylor.com)
You are here to enable the divine purpose of the universe to unfold. That is how important you are!
In you, as in each human being, there is a dimension of consciousness far deeper than thought. It is the very essence of who you are. We may call it presence, awareness, the unconditioned consciousness.
Focus attention on the feeling inside you. Know that it is the pain-body. Accept that it is there. Don’t think about it – don’t let the feeling turn into thinking. Don’t judge or analyze. Don’t make an identity for yourself out of it. Stay present, and continue to be the observer of what is happening inside you. Become aware not only of the emotional pain but also of “the one who observes,” the silent watcher. This is the power of the Now, the power of your own conscious presence.
Through self-observation, more presence comes into your life automatically. The moment you realize you are not present, you are present. Whenever you are able to observe your mind, you are no longer trapped in it. Another factor has come in, something that is not of the mind: the witnessing presence.
Presence is the key to freedom, so you can only be free now.
The following constitutes a series of quotations from Eckhart Tolle regarding living in the moment, being in the present, and focusing on the here and now:
The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment: You create a good future by creating a good present.
Your entire life only happens in this moment. The present moment is life itself. Yet, people live as if the opposite were true and treat the present moment as a stepping stone to the next moment — a means to an end.
Don’t wait to be successful at some future point. Have a successful relationship with the present moment and be fully present in whatever you are doing. That is success.
Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.
It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up.
You can always cope with the present moment, but you cannot cope with something that is only a mind projection — you cannot cope with the future.
The answer is, who you are cannot be defined through thinking or mental labels or definitions, because it’s beyond that. It is the very sense of being, or presence, that is there when you become conscious of the present moment. In essence, you and what we call the present moment are, at the deepest level, one.
Most people treat the present moment as if it were an obstacle that they need to overcome. Since the present moment is life itself, it is an insane way to live.
When you take your attention into the present moment, a certain alertness arises. You become more conscious of what’s around you, but also, strangely, a sense of presence that is both within and without.
― Eckhart Tolle (eckharttolle.com)
The following is a series of quotations extracted from the long conversation between Oprah and Eckhart Tolle:
…trading our autopilot existence for intentional awareness; recognizing how we create our own suffering through obsessing over our past history; and learning how to be present, for ourselves and for the people around us, in a compassionate, nonjudgmental way.
…In my case, and in many people’s cases, the voice in the head is a predominantly unhappy one, so there’s an enormous amount of negativity that is continuously generated by this unconscious internal dialogue.…
…I was talking to a Buddhist monk who said that Zen is very simple: You don’t rely on thought anymore; you go beyond thinking. Then I realized that was what happened to me. All that unhappy, repetitive thinking wasn’t there anymore.
The sense of self that is derived from our thinking—which includes all one’s memories, one’s conditioning, and one’s sense of self—is a conceptual one that is derived from the past. It’s essential for people to recognize that this voice is going on inside them incessantly, and it’s always a breakthrough when people realize, “Here are all my habitual, repetitive, negative thoughts, and here I am, knowing that these thoughts are going through my head.”
I see it as not believing in this or that, but as stepping out of identification with a stream of thinking. You suddenly find there’s another dimension deeper than thought inside you.
I call it stillness. It’s an aware presence, nothing to do with past or future. We can also call it “waking up.” That’s why many spiritual traditions use the term awakening. You wake up out of this dream of thinking. You become present.
…who you are cannot be defined through thinking or mental labels or definitions, because it’s beyond that. It is the very sense of being, or presence, that is there when you become conscious of the present moment. In essence, you and what we call the present moment are, at the deepest level, one. You are the consciousness out of which everything comes; every thought comes out of that consciousness, and every thought disappears back into it. You are a conscious, aware space, and all your sense perceptions, thinking, and emotions come and go in that aware space.
…When you step out of identification with that and realize for the first time that you’re actually the presence behind thinking, then you’re able to use thought when it’s helpful and necessary. But you are no longer possessed by the thinking mind, which then becomes a helpful, useful servant.…
…I recommend that people bring a conscious presence to the everyday activities that they do unconsciously. When you wash your hands, when you make a cup of coffee, when you’re waiting for the elevator—instead of indulging in thinking, these are all opportunities for being there as a still, alert presence.
That’s a continuous refocusing on what really matters—what matters most in anybody’s life, which is the present moment. People don’t realize that now is all there ever is; there is no past or future except as memory or anticipation in your mind.
Start by entering the present moment so that you find that space in which problems cannot survive. In that moment, you contact a deeper intelligence than the conditioned thinking mind. That is the place where intuition, creative action, knowledge, and wisdom come from.…
See how you relate to this moment. When you do that, what you’re really asking is, What is my relationship with life? The present moment is your life. It’s nowhere else—never, ever. So, no matter what the situation is when you align yourself with the present moment, find something to be grateful for. Gratitude is an essential part of being present. When you go deeply into the present, gratitude arises spontaneously, even if it’s just gratitude for breathing, gratitude for the aliveness that you feel in your body. Gratitude is there when you acknowledge the aliveness of the present moment; that’s the foundation for successful living. Once you’ve made the present moment into your friend through openness and acceptance, your actions will be inspired, intelligent, and empowered, because the power of life itself will be flowing through you.
…In fact, you are more passionately alive when you’re internally aligned with the present moment. You let go of this inner resistance, which on an emotional level is negativity and on a mental level is judgment and complaining. People have an enormous amount of complaining going on in their minds.…
…by planning for the future, you won’t need to lose yourself in the future. The question is, are you using time on a practical level, or are you losing yourself in the future? If you think that when you take a vacation, or find the ideal partner, or get a better job or a nicer place to live or whatever it is, that then you will finally be happy, that’s when you lose yourself in the future. It’s a continuous mental projection away from the now. That’s the difference between clock time, which has its place in this world, and psychological time, which is the continuous obsession with the past and the future. There needs to be a balance between dealing with things in this world, which involves time and thinking, and not being trapped here. There is a deeper dimension in you that is outside that stream of time and thinking, and that’s the inner stillness, peace, a deep, vibrant sense of aliveness.…
…By living through mental definitions of who you are, you desensitize yourself to the deeper aliveness of who you truly are beyond your thoughts. What arises then is a conceptual identity: I’m this or that. Once you’re trapped in your own conceptual identity, which is based on thinking and image-making by the mind, then you do the same to others. This is the beginning of pronouncing judgments on another person, and then you believe that judgment to be the truth. It’s the beginning of desensitizing yourself to who that human being truly is.
…The ego has been here for thousands of years, and that means it has its place in the evolution of humanity. But our ability to think more and more, so that gradually we became so identified with thinking, was how we lost a deeper connectedness with life—with paradise. I believe we are now at an evolutionary transition where far more human beings than ever before are able to go beyond ego into a new state of consciousness.
This is the point where the evolution of consciousness, the awakening of humanity, is no longer a luxury. The effects of the dysfunctional ego are now being amplified by technology. What we are doing to ourselves, to our fellow human beings, and to the planet is becoming more and more destructive and devastating.
The ego cannot survive in stillness, so invite stillness into your life. That doesn’t mean that stillness is something you get from outside; it’s realizing that underneath the stream of thinking, everybody already has the stillness.
…Look very deeply into yourself and see your sense of “I-ness”—your sense of self. This “I” is bound up with the stillness. You’re never more essentially yourself than when you are still. You can invite stillness into your life by taking a few conscious breaths many times during the day. Just observe your breath flowing in and out. Another way is to feel the aliveness of your body from within. Ask, is there life in my hands? And then you feel it. It’s subtle, but it’s there. Is there life in my feet, my legs, my arms? You can feel that your entire inner body is pervaded by a sense of aliveness, and that can serve as an anchor for stillness. It doesn’t mean you turn completely away from the external world. It brings balance into your life between being still and being able to deal with things out here.
When you watch a tree, just be there as the aware presence perceives the tree. Nature is very helpful for people who want to connect with the stillness. Man-made things generate more thinking because they are made through thinking. Go to nature. Eventually you can sustain the state of stillness even in the midst of a city.…
…spirituality has nothing to do with what you believe but everything to do with your state of consciousness.
It’s the stillness that’s the spiritual dimension.
― Oprah and Eckhart Tolle (eckharttolle.com)
Eckhart Tolle’s teachings are life changing. Once you truly grasp that everything is NOW, and you live fully, consciously in this very moment, life suddenly becomes easier, better and more fulfilling. You no longer need to stress about the future, or live in the past, you just do you[r] best, and live fully, right now in this moment.
― TeamSoul (iamfearlesssoul.com)
“Yesterday doesn’t exist, tomorrow never comes. There is only today.”
“Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero.”
Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future.
Our first foray into the philosophy of Alan Watts. The Present Moment is the one which eludes us the most often. It is the juxtaposition of the fleeting and the lasting.
What we really want is that you take away this message from the video that-
Instead of perceiving your past as having an overbearing shadow on your present, it is much more favorable to observe that your past will be ultimately defined by your present actions in the long run.
― Alan Watts (alanwatts.com)
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I’m not thаt much of a internet reader to be honest but
your blogs really nice, keeρ іt up! I’ll go ahead and booҝmark your site to cοme back in the future.
You have gathered such a wide range of thought provoking comments here, a reader could come back to this single post a thousand times, SoundEagle.
Given the troubled times in which we live, this verse from Scripture came to mind: “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matt 6: 25-26).
May God watch over you. ❤
LikeLiked by 1 person
Oops. I obviously misspoke. Should have called this a page, not a post.
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May 2021 be filled w/ beautiful moments for you, SoundEagle! ❤ 🙂 ❤
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