If you are like most human beings, you are most likely thinking about something the majority of your waking hours. Most us live in a world of thought 90% of the time, and in the present moment 10% of our time.
I’ve adopted a philosophy to do the opposite. Focus the majority of my attention in the now, and think only when it’s necessary. A famous quote by John Lennon puts it beautifully.
“Life is what happens when we are busy making other plans”
How many times do you find that your thoughts either negative, repetitious, or both? It’s hard to concentrate on the task at hand when you can’t seem to shake a thought. These thoughts usually revolve around thoughts about the future, or thoughts about the past. Very little of our attention goes into our present moment. The present moment is all we really have, the future is a mystery and the past is dead and gone. All we have is right now. So why are we living our lives in our heads, and not in the “real” world. It’s like we are lost in a dream. Many of us don’t even realize how much we think. The mind loves to be busy, and it loves to have a job. Unfortunately, its primary purpose isn’t to make us happy.
Let me put it to you this way, have you ever been driving in a car and next thing you know you are at your destination. It’s as if you went into autopilot. That’s what happens when your mind is lost in thought. Now just imagine if you lived your whole life like that way just with varying degrees of consciousness. Well the truth is, for the majority of us. That’s exactly how it is.
If we are always lost in thought we tend to miss the world around us. We invest very little in the present moment on a typical day. If we stop and reflect a bit, the future is really a collection of many smaller present moments. The more we can catch ourselves lost in thought, whether it’s thinking about the future or the past, the more we can increase the quality of the only thing that really adds value to our lives, the present moment.
That’s why I’ve adopted a new philosophy on life…it’s to stop all the incessant thinking and start living my life within 15 feet. I deal with what I can see, taste, feel, and experience, and less with what I can think or imagine.
I’m not saying that I never think. But I only do so when it’s necessary. When the moment I’m in requires it. What ends up happening if you can train your brain to just take a break, and focus on what’s in front of you is that when you do think, your thoughts are more creative, more peaceful, and in general much more productive.
The best part of it all is that in order to adopt this new philosophy on life, I’m asking you to literally do less. Try and catch yourself when you start to get lost in thought. Don’t judge yourself, or punish yourself. Just be mindful when you start to get swept away, then redirect your attention back to the present moment.
Now I know what you are thinking. If I stop thinking, my life will fall apart. I won’t be able to pay the bills, get that promotion I’ve been working towards; I might even lose my sense of reality. Well the truth is we are not our thoughts. There is so much more to you than just what you think.
When you live presently, you make better decisions; you are calmer, and much happier. You let life unfold in front of you, instead of constantly trying to guess what’s next, or be dragged down by what was.
As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the simplest action.
Not only have I become much more productive at work, but my life has a new sense of mystery and purpose. I accept what is, and change what I don’t like. But I don’t ruminate about what will be, or what was. I just am. I’m free.
I challenge you to be mindful when you get sucked into the dreamland of thought, and redirect your attention to the moment at hand. Give every task your fullest attention. What you might find is your life becomes less a means to an end, and you start to savor the journey instead.
Based on the book “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle