Discounting The Present Versus Mindfulness

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Many of us put a lot of stock into the idea that bigger and better things are on the horizon. We tell ourselves that while happiness and fulfillment may elude us right now they will surely be within our grasp when we’ve finally achieved our goals. We discount the present in favor of that dreamt of future, upon a set of conditions that may or may not come about.

This is one of the reasons the practice of mindfulness is so useful for those of us with a Western mentality, where acquisition and goal attainment play central roles throughout the lifespan. Mindfulness puts the emphasis on the here and now, on living fully in the present, and states unequivocally that all the conditions for our happiness and fulfillment are already available to us. We don’t need to wait for some far off date where circumstances are finally aligned in order to be happy and fulfilled. All we need do is turn our full attention to the present, to give 100% of our mindful attention to all our daily activities, and almost magically we start noticing wonders of life we’ve been taking for granted.

Mindfulness doesn’t ask us to stop planning for the future or striving towards our goals. But it does ask us to remember that all of our short lives occur for us in the present tense, we only have direct access to the present, and if we’re not careful we’ll reach the end of those short lives without ever having truly been in the present since much of our attention was always focused not on our immediate surroundings or immediate experience but on what was coming next.