Staying present is one of those things that’s repeated ad nauseam, but hard to implement because it sounds all fluffy. Nobody is really CLEARLY explaining the benefits of staying present. It’s ambiguous, hard to nail down specifically in concrete terms but if the benefits are clearly stated, people would be more inclined to try it.
Here’s the first long benefit of staying present most people miss. People who are not present are constantly plagued by opportunity costs. While watching their kid’s soccer game, they’re thinking of all the other things they could be doing. Responding to work email, catching up on reading, binge watching TV shows but here’s the thing.
If you wonder about opportunity cost in that instance, then you’re doing it all over the place which creates HUGE mental baggage.
What if I married this person, what if I moved to that city instead, what if I had this career – by not staying present, you’re training your mind to wander in terms of other opportunities you could be experiencing. That’s not good because it’s SO easy to feel bad about all the things you could’ve been experiencing had you pursued those other opportunities. When you’re present, there’s no room for that so your mind feels very “light”. There’s no back and forth going on in your mind all the time wondering if you made the “right choice”.
The second long term benefit of staying present most people miss is that it allows you to build a strong foundation. When you build a brick wall, brick by brick, if you’re not present in every brick you lay, if you’re wondering about other things, if you’re doing other things, you’re going to have a funky looking brick wall. A brick wall that could easily fall down.
But when you stay present and lay each brick as best you can, then you’ve got a pretty strong wall going and life gets a whole lot easier down the road as a result. Much easier to build on top of a strong foundation than a shaky one.
The third long term benefit of staying present is that your experience of life is so much richer because you’re all there. You’re fully connected in the moment. And it feels good. And because it feels good, you’re that much more likely to do it.
But why does it feel so good? Here’s why. When you’re not present, you’re either thinking about the past or the future. If you keep thinking about the past, chances are your future is going to repeat itself because you can’t let go of the past. You begin to use that history to prove to yourself it’s just going to be more of the same.
If you’re thinking about the future, then you’re anxious about all the things that can go wrong.
But if you’re present, you avoid those two traps. The past has no hold on you and neither does the future. You’re in the moment, you experience everything there is, and you avoid those two pits of despair that dwelling on the past and future can bring upon you.
So when you’re at your kid’s soccer game and you’re fully present, you’re not thinking about opportunity costs spanning across multiple scenarios in your life. You’re not plagued by all the mental baggage that comes along with it that so many people bear onto their shoulders. You’re building a strong relationship with your kid that will pay dividends down the road. You’re soaking in every moment of the experience, fully feeling the pride and joy of watching your child play without being plagued by the downward spirals of the past or the future.
And it all feels so good.
In fact, it feels so good, you’re willing to give it a shot in other areas of your life.
On your commute to work. When you work out. When having a conversation with your friend.
And it seems like life for the first time “pops”. The world is more colorful. It’s more vibrant.
Biting into a juicy ripe strawberry gives you just as much pleasure now compared to eating at a five start restaurant before.
Because you’re present, your life becomes richer in every area of your life.
Now like all things, this will be two steps forward, one step back. You’ll make some headway, then forget about being present, then get angry at yourself for forgetting, try again, make more headway, slip up again, and on and on and on, but eventually you’ll get the hang of it and you’ll become present in everything you do.
Washing your face and brushing your teeth will have never felt so good.
These are the subtle long term benefits of staying present that most people miss.
Once known and implemented, you’ll find staying present is pretty close to bliss.