Essential for Happiness: Being Present in the Moment, and Not Getting Lost in the Past/Future

Mindfulness is considered one of the most important keys to happiness in psychology, religion, and wellness. Mindfulness is an awareness of the moment – of how you’re feeling, what you’re doing, what good is going on around you, and more.

This idea has been around for thousands of years. It is a basic tenant of most forms of spirituality, used in ancient meditative practices, yoga, and countless other practices. But it is also going through a resurgence in the modern world.

Companies like Google emphasize mindfulness, touting benefits that include:

  • Minimizing Stress
  • Greater Productivity
  • Focusing the Mind

In addition, the field of psychology stresses the belief that it is more important to focus on the present then the past or future, because while the past tell you where you’ve been, and the future tells you where you’re going, the moment is where you are right now.

Why the Present is the Key to Happiness

Focusing on the past can often cause you to lose touch with your current reality. We see this regularly in psychotherapy, where a client opines for a lost love, or is unwilling to build trust with no individuals due to past trauma. Giving the past that much power and letting it control your decisions means that you’re altering your reality as a result of your past – you’re using your past to distract you from what is going on in the present.

Similarly, when we look too far into the future, we forget that the only way to get the future you want is to take the actions you want to take now. If you focus only on what could be, and not on what is, you run the risk of changing your behaviors in a way that can actually prevent you from getting that future you want, or even the one you need. It also prevents happiness, because it puts your happiness on hold until you get something you want, that may never come.

Having a goal for the future is a good idea. Recognizing your past is helpful as well. But it is still important to have mindfulness about the present, and to recognize that this is where you are now, and this is where your happiness is. Being present in the present is what will help you find greater levels of contentment.