Live the present-Live in the here and now to be happy

Live the present - Live in the here and now to be happy

Enjoying what we are and have, instead of living pending what does not exist, is possibly the great secret of happiness. But how do you get it? To enjoy the present, you have to stop longing for the past, not blame yourself for missed opportunities and, above all, face the future with realistic expectations.

Live the present - Live in the here and now to be happy

In order to attain a fuller existence, the great sages and spiritual teachers of the East have incorporated into their daily conduct the principle of keeping a mind focused on the present moment.

It’s about trying to live a life in full contact with the here and now, without being carried away by the mind’s tendency to ruminate over and over again on past experiences or constantly fantasize about future events.


Our whole life unfolds in a continuous present; no one can live either in the past or in the future. However, we spend much of our existence psychologically oriented towards the past or towards the future.

We refer here to dysfunctional or problematic orientations, since remembering or anticipating are not, by themselves, harmful acts; quite the contrary, they are extremely useful faculties for the human being.

If we get stuck in the past through longing

It is an attempt to “relive”, to relive pleasant moments that have already passed and to experience again those feelings that we once had. This in itself is not a bad thing.

The problem arises when, the worse we are here and now, the more we tend to go there, to the past; then longing becomes a way of avoiding being here.

When our usual response to difficult situations is to constantly remind ourselves of what we lost and no longer have, what we achieve is, far from reliving the honeys of the past, to start living the ice of the present in the form of sadness.

We can orient ourselves psychologically to the past with self-blame

It is another way of staying in the past. For example, a young man has studied a certain career and, as he has difficulties finding a job, he begins to tell himself that he should not have studied something with so little professional opportunity, that he should have chosen another specialty…

Again, these thoughts have double standards. If they are punctual and we use them to draw a conclusion from the experience and apply the learning to the present moment, great.

The problem arises when we get stuck in blaming and fail to extract learning from that experience.

As the saying goes, “past water does not move a mill”; In other words, it is a sterile and exhausting exercise.

Also, as with unhealthy longings, it is a way of avoiding looking at the present head on and facing it with resolution. When this behavior becomes habitual, the feeling we experience is almost certainly one of guilt.


To “worry” is to take care of something before it happens. Parents know a lot about this. When children start going out at night, parents have a certain predisposition to anticipate all kinds of potential problems. Until the children return and go to bed, they do not rest. While the child is away, the parents’ minds are abuzz with somewhat catastrophic images. Here we can also find a healthy function and an unhealthy one.

We anticipate problems before they occur

If the anticipation of the possible problem leads us to take measures in advance to prevent it, we have managed to reduce the risks. But if what we are doing is nothing more than going around, over and over again, what we fear will happen, we are torturing ourselves by “re-living”, over and over again, the possible event.

Our favorite phrase when we get carried away by worries begins with what if … “What if you get into the car of someone who has drunk and has an accident?”

Although this what if … talks about possibilities, the approach contains a hidden message, a catastrophic statement: “I’m almost sure that he is going to get in the car and have an accident.”

In this case, when this procedure becomes a form of functioning, the most common feelings we experience are those of anguish, anxiety and fear.

I once worked with a patient who was intensely “worried” about how he was going to behave on a first date with a woman. When I asked him when he was meeting this woman, he told me that he did not actually have a date, but that he was very concerned about that moment.

Expectations also constantly place us in the future

We also orient ourselves to the future when we move guided by our expectations. An expectation is a way of anticipating the future based on what we believe or want to happen, usually in relation to the behavior of a person or a group, or to a certain reality.

Expectations often end up taking the form of strong implicit demands, especially if we construct them in reference to a person.

But when reality does not meet our expectations, when that person does not behave as we wanted, we often experience frustration, we feel disappointed.

The intensity of these feelings will depend fundamentally on two factors: on the one hand, the mismatch that we perceive between our expectations and reality; and, on the other, of the importance of what we expected for us.

The greater the mismatch and the more important those expectations were to us, the more disappointed and frustrated we will become.

As in the previous cases, having expectations is not harmful in itself. The problem comes when we are more focused on them than on our reality, when we only see ourselves and our expectations, and not the person in front of us.


Every time I teach a course, on the first day I ask attendees to introduce themselves and explain what they expect from the course and from me. Sometimes I ask them to write it down. When they have done so, I stand up, put a trash can in the middle of the room, and ask them, please, to be so kind as to throw away their expectations.

I explain to them that the only thing I can guarantee them at that moment is that what they are going to experience in that meeting will certainly be different from what they expect.

And I invite you to attend the workshop trying to be as free as possible of desires, expectations, prejudices …, that allow you to discover the experience on the fly, without forcing reality, so that everything happens smoothly.

This does not mean, although it seems contradictory, that we have to forget about our expectations.

It is about being aware of them and deciding what sense to make of them. There is a story, collected by the author and yoga teacher Ramiro Calle that will be illustrative.

“Once upon a time there was a man who had never had the chance to see the sea. He lived in a village in the interior of India. An idea had settled firmly in his mind:” he could not die without seeing the sea. “To save some money and being able to travel to the coast, he took another job, in addition to his usual one, he saved everything he could and longed for the day to be able to be in front of the sea.

They were difficult years. He finally saved enough to make the trip. He took a train that took him to the outskirts of the sea. He was excited and joyful. He came to the beach and watched the wonderful spectacle. What gentle waves! What a beautiful foam!

What beautiful water! He walked over to the water, scooped some of it up in his hand, and raised it to his lips to taste it. Then desencantadoy very dejected, he thought: “What a pity you know so wrong with how beautiful it is!” ” .
It would be beautiful if we gave ourselves the opportunity to discover the ocean in its essence, agreeing to its healthiness with total acceptance, and that we could also, at the same time, use our expectations as a way of discovering our desires.

This attitude will allow us to enjoy a more spontaneous and clean relationship with the sea, with life, with people, free from demands and prejudices. It would be sad if we got to live a lifetime alongside our loved ones waiting for them to become “drinking water”. Ramiro Calle concludes this beautiful story by saying: “the way to free ourselves from these disappointments is to only wait for what happens”.


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