“We take care of the future best by taking care of the present now.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
So many of the high school and college kids I see in my practice are consumed by their imagined futures. They are anxious about what’s next, and how they are going to get there. They are confused at first when I tell them to let this taxing preoccupation go, and that our work together will focus on learning how to put their attention in the moment they are in. After a few weeks, they begin to understand that their future depends on what they do with their attention today. Relief naturally follows as they realize that they just need to do one moment at a time, instead of agonizing about the rest of their life on a Thursday night. And as one college kid said to me today, “Mindfulness has made me realize that my life only sucked in my head, which was always in the future, which totally stressed me out. Now that I’m actually in my life, it’s pretty chill.”
Your future health depends on what you choose to put into your body today. Your GPA depends on your ability to show up for your homework tonight. Your college athletic scholarship depends on the training you put in at practice today. Your ability to land that dream job depends on how you show up today at your unpaid internship. Your retirement depends on the money you invest today.
Where is your attention most of the time? Are you missing out on today for an imagined tomorrow? What happens when you commit to showing up to your moments as they are happening? Does presence lead you to make better choices? When your mind is in the future anticipating that big meeting with your boss, or rehashing that fight you got into earlier, do you reach for the ice cream or the apple? Can you see how your choices will depend on where your attention is, and how these choices will determine your tomorrow?