The Dangers of Living Solely in the Present

John Cousins
February 7, 2023
3 min read

I was catching up with an old friend last night over a few pints of Guinness, and this idea crossed our conversation, so I decided to put down my thoughts on the subject.

Is the goal of living in the now enough? Or is it a stepping stone to broader enlightenment?

If you have regrets, you have problems in the past. If you worry, you have trouble dealing with the future. But if your back catalog of experiences makes you happy, and you are excited about future possibilities, then focusing solely on the present is limiting.

Buddhism is a religion and philosophy that originated in ancient India and has since spread throughout the world. At the heart of Buddhist teachings is the idea that suffering is an inherent part of life and that the key to finding peace and happiness lies in living in the present moment.

According to Buddhist thought, it is natural for our minds to wander and become caught up in thoughts about the past or the future.

However, this constant mental chatter can prevent us from fully experiencing the present moment and finding true peace and happiness.

One way that Buddhism encourages us to focus on the present is through the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness involves paying attention to our thoughts and surroundings in a non-judgmental way, which can help us to become more aware of the present moment and let go of our preoccupation with the past and the future.

Photo by Levi XU on Unsplash

Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now” and Ram Dass’s “Be Here Now” are famous works exploring living in the present moment and how it can bring greater peace and happiness. These books offer practical advice and techniques for cultivating mindfulness and letting go of the constant mental chatter that can distract us from the present moment.

Buddhism encourages us to focus on the present moment to find peace and happiness. By letting go of our attachment to the past and future, we can learn to make the most of every moment.

But wait.

Focusing solely on the present can be a limiting experience because it can prevent us from learning and growing from our past experiences and from making plans and preparing for the future.

One of the drawbacks of living in the now is that we may overlook past lessons. By failing to reflect on our past experiences and the choices we have made, we miss out on the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and make better future decisions.

Another drawback is that living in the now can cause us to become overly concerned with our present circumstances. Success is a lagging indicator.

Finally, living in the now can also prevent us from fully enjoying and savoring the present moment. By focusing too much on the past or the future, we may fail to appreciate the present and all it offers.

Living in the present moment can be rewarding. However, it is also essential to consider the past and the future and find a balance between all three. By doing so, we can ensure that we make the most of every moment and live a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

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John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

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