We are all striving for more happiness and success. The two don’t necessarily go hand in hand, but if you want to have both, a joyful and productive life, one place you can start is understanding the following:
The Present is the Key to Happiness:
True happiness comes from the ability to enjoy the moment as it happens: focusing on the meal you are having, enjoying the texture and aroma, focusing on the time with your loved one, relishing his/her smile, feeling fulfilled in your job as you make customers happy. Imagine never having to worry about the future.
Imagine how happier you would be if you didn’t have to think ahead, if time could freeze and no threat could affect you. That’s why meditation tries to get you to a state devoid of outside thoughts. It’s also why many of us tend to procrastinate, or spend an inordinate amount of time on certain tasks in an attempt to avoid thinking about the unknown that comes next.
The Future is the Key to Success:
The future is tomorrow’s present. If you don’t plan for it and work to support it, you might be happy today, but unhappy tomorrow. Think of the future, therefore, as necessary maintenance to preserve your happiness. Planning the future is, however, not necessarily a joyful experience: you need to look at things methodically and strike the proper balance between being a dreamer and a worrywart.
The Past is your Greatest Asset:
Your past is a treasure, in more than one way:
- Past achievements define you, whether you are looking for a job, applying for a degree or contemplating a relationship. That’s why you have a resume, a job application, a Facebook profile and even a dating site profile.
- Your past is your own confidence-booster: as you contemplate your future, you should remember the multiple successes you have already had in your life and note that in all likelihood, you will succeed again where you have already succeeded.
- Past memories are yours and can never be taken away from you: even if you lose all your possessions, you will always have the souvenir of that fantastic vacation you had in the Caribbean, or that great first kiss, or the moment your child was born.
- Your past mistakes can be very valuable as learning experiences. Don’t dwell on them, however, as they are already engraved in your subconscious.
So, here is a simple formula for happiness and success:
Divide your time in slots, with each slot dedicated to your past, present or future: Slots should not be equal, as you should spend the most time in the present, followed by the future and then the past. Importantly, you should try as much as possible to keep these slots separate. Even if they occur at irregular times, they should not intertwine.
Use the past to boost morale and self-confidence: Think of all your past achievements, all the difficulties you have overcome as well as the beautiful times you have already had and how your future is bound to have similar moments.
Use the future to make plans: Plan for everything that can possibly happen in your life. Plan alternatives if things go wrong and plan to exploit successes. Make sure you see several steps forward.
When you’re in the present, concentrate on your task at hand: If you’re working, immerse yourself and enjoy what you do, if you’re on a job interview, focus on the conversation, noting that you have already planned for any possible outcome. If you are with loved ones, give yourself fully to the beautiful moments.
Try it. It works!