Fortunately, the universe has a way of putting you in exactly the situations with exactly the people you need, at exactly the right time if you’re just open to it. Today we are discussing the power of NOW.
Eckhart Tolle, a spiritual teacher who’s been able to crystallise many of the teachings of the world’s major religions, particularly Buddhism, into secular, practical and powerful practices for happiness, joy, and enlightenment.
This is not a post about happiness, per se, so we won’t spend too much time on these teachings. But if you’re curious, I strongly recommend checking out a new earth, or the Power of Now, or even a Udemy course.
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However, it is important that we outline two of the more powerful concepts, especially because Buddhism, at its most basic level, can be interpreted as a methodology for avoiding sorrow and finding joy. Whatever your views are on organized religion, you’d be wise to listen up.
The first and perhaps most popular idea that I want to share with you is the idea of presence, often called mindfulness or the Power of Now.
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Well, it turns out that the present moment is a place completely devoid of sadness or sorrow. How can that be? Think about this? Anytime you’re sad or upset with a situation, you aren’t actually sad or upset with the situation itself intrinsically, you’re sad or upset because the situation is different from what was in the past are different from what will be in the future.
Still with me?
Like any form of complaining or comparing this dissonance from the present moment is what’s actually making people unhappy. While thinking about your future is lauded as a responsible thing to do.
In fact, in excess, it can be a pretty quick way to avoid being happy in the present moment. If you think about the happiest moments of your life, moments where you were doing your favorite sport, moments of intimacy with a loved one, or playing with your children.
Isn’t it true that these moments were all examples of you living in the moment? Now, if you think about the saddest, most stressful and most difficult times in your life, recovering from a hard breakup, worrying about what grade you’ll get on that big exam? Isn’t it true that you were living either in the past or in the future?
It might take some time to set in. But if you accept the present moment, and live only there, you can avoid so much of life’s sorrow.
And that actually leads us to the second point that I want to share, which is acceptance. Acceptance is a powerful thing. And of course, a troublesome thing. But it can be the difference between happiness and sorrow, full stop.
According to Tolle, there are only three productive modalities from which to experience the things that happen in our lives, enjoyment, excitement, or acceptance. Everything else is unproductive to your happiness.
Think about this for a second. When anything happens, you have three choices.
The absolute worst case is to accept it. Like the idea of mindfulness and presence. This is probably a pretty hard pill to swallow.
Personally, I found that anytime I’m upset about something, it’s because I’ve failed to accept it in the present moment, I fought against it, swam upstream and been just unable to reframe it in my mind.
However, when I’ve been able to accept the bad things in my life as things that just are, it almost feels as if they pass through me as things I experienced, but which have little or no actual effect on me and my well being.
It’s an incredible feeling to have something seemingly very tragic in your life, like the loss of a family member, and cry, not tears of sorrow over losing them, but tears of joy over the memories, and that you had them in your life to begin with.
Now, not that you shouldn’t try to change things in your life that you don’t like, on the contrary, but there’s a big difference between doing this from a place of acceptance versus doing it from a place of anger, sorrow, or resistance.
So what are the things in your life that you’re neglecting to accept, in which way is living in the past or in the future muddling your ability to live in the present moment? Where are you delaying happiness or tie it to some future event? Seriously, ask yourself these questions, and I think the answers might surprise you.