the only thing you ever have is now

the only thing you ever have is now
Photo by Brett Jordan / Unsplash
“There are more things, Lucilius, likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”
― Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

Most of us live anxious and worried lives. And the sad part is that we hardly ever live in the present.

If there was a smartphone app that could track and monitor our thoughts, I’m sure we would all be surprised to see how little time we spend focusing on the present. Most of the time that we’re blessed with is squandered thinking about either the past or future, or just building castles in the air and staying lost in the fantasy world.

“Whenever we worry about something in the past or the future, we are setting up our own little haunted house and peopling it with our own special ghosts.”
— Eknath Easwaran

Only a fraction of our time on this planet is spent fully living in the present moment. This is plain sad, because the present is all we truly have. Now is what we have — life is nothing but a series of nows. Marcus Aurelius beautifully captured this sentiment in these words: “Discard everything except these few truths: we can live only in the present moment, in this brief now; all the rest of our life is dead and buried or shrouded in uncertainty. Short is the life we lead, and small our patch of earth.”

Our time, our energy, and our attention are our most precious commodities. And that’s why it makes absolute sense to use them diligently. Instead of spending them to relive the horrors of the past and imagine the tragedies of the future, we must protect our precious moments and take concrete steps so that we train ourselves to give our undivided, unfragmented interest to the here and now.

“The only thing you ever have is now.”
— Eckhart Tolle

The more you focus on the present moment, the better, easier, and more streamlined your life gets. We’ve all heard the famous maxim, “Where attention goes, energy flows.” We have to keep our eyes on the path in front of us and on the things that are within the realm of our control, right here, right now.

Whenever something negative or distracting tugs at our attention, we must avoid the temptation to look in that direction. If we allow our attention to flow either to past mistakes or future worries, we’re doomed; all of our precious energy is wasted. However, when our mind stays fully focused on the present, we preserve our energy and maintain our vitality and verve.

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