Happiness Is Available In The Present Moment

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“Our appointment with life is in the present moment. If we do not have peace and joy right now, when will we have peace and joy-tomorrow, or after tomorrow? What is preventing us from being happy right now?”
– Thich Nhat Hanh

The irony of the Western attitude towards life is that we do want to be happy, desperately so, so much in fact that we focus most of our attention and energy on attaining the conditions we believe will make us happy, and it’s precisely this future focus that keeps us from being happy right now.

Most of us believe our current circumstances just aren’t good enough but if we get this or that desire fulfilled everything will fall into place and we’ll finally be able to get down to the business of really living. That elusive happiness will be within our grasp.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s point, if we can answer his question for him from the quote above, is that the only thing preventing us from being happy right now is us. It’s our own attitude towards life, our obsession with future eventualities and our neglect of the present moment, that keeps us from noticing all the wonders of life, from realizing that all the conditions for our happiness are available in the here and now. Things might not be exactly the way we want them to be but when we decide that for now they are enough suddenly all that stress and unhappiness dissipate.

This is the power of the mindful attitude. It doesn’t ask us to neglect the future, to stop planning or to stop working towards our goals, but it does ask us to remember that every moment of our lives takes place in the present moment, and therefore it’s to the present moment that we owe our allegiance and attention. The more fully we come into it the happier we are, even when the circumstances we face don’t seem ideal.