Balancing The Present Moment with the Future


I do a lot of talking about the present moment here on the site.  For good reason:  the present moment is where I will find true happiness.  It is the only thing that is real; the past is a memory and the future is never assured…both the future and past are concepts, they are fantasies in your own mind.  Only this very moment is real.

The future and the past are like rainbows...they don't really exist. (Photo by Adrian van Leen)

The future and the past are like rainbows…they don’t really exist. (Photo by Adrian van Leen)

Lately though, I have been wondering whether or not I have been living the theory…you know, practicing what I preach.  I do have a dream, and recently I posted about it on another site:  read about it here.  I am pursuing this dream, sometimes relentlessly.  I can feel myself losing my awareness of the present moment.  I get so engrossed in the future that I lose the now.  I have briefly mentioned trying to balance this before, but never in depth.  How do I balance the reality of now, with planning for the future or even pursuing a goal?

We have to plan for the future.  It is important to do so.  I can rattle on and on about the present moment, about how true happiness can only be found there, but we can’t just let the future swallow us up, right?  At the very least, we should be prepared if things don’t go well.  After all, just because I am living in the now, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t buy insurance.  Moreover, it seems that some of the greatest philosophers and even Zen masters have accomplished great things, because they pursued goals. Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus met great success as they pursued the goals of their lives.  Even present day Buddhist masters like The Dalai Lama, and my far away mentor Thich Nhat Hahn each in their own way pursue goals and work for a better future.  Even The Buddha had the goal to share what he had discovered under the Bodhi Tree!

Here are the 2 key points to remember when balancing now with the future:

  1. Happiness Now = More Happiness Later.  Your future happiness is deeply connected to your happiness now.  Happiness generates energy, a good attitude and a clear mind to prepare for the challenges your life will present you. You must be present now, to have the kind of energy I am talking about.



  2. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.  This stuff is so simple!  BUT NOT EASY!  Once you have mastered #1 (or as much as possible), then you can visualize how you would like to handle your future.  You prepare both mentally and by your action.  But you can do it better because you have a full awareness of the present moment.  Just remember…nothing in your future is assured.  You may fail, you may succeed, you may not even be here tomorrow.  So…

Live fully today, but enjoy the pursuit of your goals and dreams.  Enjoy the pursuit, but don’t obsess about the result.  Because (a) much of that result is out of your control and (b) when you get there you will be on to the next thing anyway.

That’s the best I can do for now.  Please share, tweet, pin this…let others in on the discussion.

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