Why It Is So Hard to Live in the Present

Very many of us suffer from a peculiar-sounding
problem: an inability properly to inhabit the stretch of time we call ‘the present’.
Maybe we’re on a beautiful beach on a sunny day, the sky is azure and the palm trees slender
and implausibly delicate, but most of ‘us’ isn’t actually here at all, it’s somewhere
at work or in imaginary discussion with a rival or plotting a new enterprise. Or maybe
we’re at the birthday of a child: it’s enormously significant for her and we love
her dearly, but we are elsewhere; our body is rooted in the now, but our minds are skipping
to points in both the future and in the past. What is it that makes the present, especially
the nicer moments of the present, so difficult to experience properly? And why, conversely,
can so many events feel easier to enjoy, appreciate and perceive, when they are firmly over? One
benefit of the past is that it is a dramatically foreshortened edited version of the present.
Even the best days of our lives contain a range of dull and uncomfortable moments. But
in memory, like skilled editors of hours of raw and often uninspired footage, we lock
on to the most consequential moments; and therefore construct sequences that feel a
great deal more meaningful and interesting than the settings that generated them. Hours
of mediocrity can be reduced to five or six perfect images. Nostalgia is the present enhanced
by an editing machine. Much of what ruins the present is sheer anxiety. The present
always contains an enormous number of possibilities, some hugely gruesome, which we are constantly
aware of in the background. Anything could theoretically happen, an earthquake, an aneurysm,
a rejection – which gives rise to the non-specific anxiety that trails most of us around all
the time; the simple dread at the unknownness of what is to come. But then, of course, only
a very limited range of awful things do ever come to pass and we forget the anxiety at
once (or rather shift it to the new present). So when we remember an event, what we leave
out of it is how much of that event we actually spent anticipating an appalling future that
never came. Our bodies further contribute to our distraction from the present. They
have their own moods and itineraries. They might feel tired and timid at just the moment
when the landscape around us would demand grandeur and confidence. But these dissonant
moods also get edited out of memory; we’ll remember the view over the ocean longer than
the slight queasiness which turned us in on ourselves at the time. Our minds are cavernous,
chaotic places. So much courses through them that has little to do with what is right in
front of our eyes. We can end up seeming ungrateful to where are. Someone is telling us an important
story, and not from any evil, just from the difficulty of having to manage the entity
called ‘I’, we digest some regret or other instead. We are at a beautiful location, but
we can barely take in the vegetation and the extraordinary views, so fixated are we on
an event that will occur in six months time. We need to be prepared for the weird way in
which we align with the world and not berate ourselves unduly for our difficulties at doing
justice to where our bodies and minds happen to be. We should be ready for this disloyalty
in other people too – at moments when they look strangely worried at a party we’ve
laid on or don’t seem to be listening to a story we are telling them. They too may
just be experiencing some of the major difficulties of being in the present. Like us, they’ll
probably enjoy our encounter with us so much more when the present has safely given way
to memory.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. Drive a race car fast enough, and take your mind off the road even for a split second, you will crash. Staying in the present here and now requires 0% distraction. At 200 mph, there is no time to think! Thinking takes time. A much safer way is meditation. In meditation, one must not let thinking distract s/him, but instead maintain 100% focus on s/his breathing. Yet has any "zen master" meditator ever succeeded in keeping s/his mind on the present 24/7/365 to date?

  2. AKUNAMATA !….it's all in dee past !!….the great unknown and fear of the future ….due to the present day  stream of consciousness !….quite Joycean ! in a world where it can Shakespearean or even Homeric ….at times !!

  3. There is no future or past. time as a linear progression is a generated consept of our minds. Just like colors or sound are generated in our mind, so are the idea of time. Its one of lifes grand illusions. The energy of the ego.

    The present moment is all there ever is. when ''tomorrow'' comes, its the same present moment as it is now. the only thing that have changed are the arrangment of atoms, that intales different situations. this different situations stores as a memory in your brain, this happens in the now. When you think about the past, that happens in the now, when you try to imagine the future, that happens in the now.

    There is only now. and if that is all there ever is, that is where one should truly be.

  4. This misses an important point. No one is able to be in the present. In order to survive among other people, we need to be aware of intentions (the future) and lessons (the past). If we were all in the moment we would not be coordinating (ie., planning and learning) our selves and would be like animals – not aware of others. You'd stand out and be put away somewhere"safe".

  5. thank you for not disregarding your insights and giving value to them, till the extent of communicating so completely with artists that they were able to create art that perfectly aligns the words with the images, fully capturing the message, bringing us to drift away in our thoughts and converge with your words and pictures. Couldn't have absorbed it any better. thank you

  6. Lol I hate the ending of this. Yes memories are great, but the present is what we should keep trying to focus on enjoying

  7. pff. I'm almost surprised that I don't get paid for being stuck in the past or future I want the future to come now so I can have my freedom and leave those shackles behind, but I long for the past because it's the perfect time to fix things and be there when it was better. back when it was good, back when I had an opportunity to be a part of something, especially "when it was cool"

  8. Maybe we find it hard to live in the present because we reach a certain age where we realize that our best years are behind us……we are no longer young and attractive or as fit and healthy as we used to be…….oh well………

  9. I can definitely relate to this, but it is really sad thinking that we will appreciate what is happening now more when it has become part of our past.

  10. Because you're in the present moment then you're not, you're in the present moment then you're not, you're in the present moment then you're not, you're in the present moment then you're not, you're in the present moment then you're not, you're in the present moment then you're not ! That's why it's so hard to live it because it doesn't last but a moment !

  11. This thing called me can do what it wants to – it always does, I can't prevent it. But why does it have to make me watch all the time?

  12. Being in the the present moment is impossible 99% of the time. Our brains simply aren't wired for it. You can read all the Eckhart Tolle you want, but that basic fact is not going to change.

  13. We focus on the past a lot when we are supposed to be enjoying the present because we work a lot. when we work we think only about work. that leaves only a little time to think about the things that matter to us the most. And in order to understand the present we have to understand the past. Why is it important to understand the present? because otherwise we'd be walking around like fools when we are off work. And to apreciate life we must not only be fools sometimes, but we must be aware of our past and present. That being said I can shut my thoughts off for a while and live in the present.

  14. I know my comrades it's hard to achieve something new in this world, but it all gets easier when you start doing one magic keyword, "Focus".

  15. if you want to reach the maximum of everything and nothing for the most, be willing to listen to UG krishnamurti, he is it.

  16. I can't stop reminiscing back to last month when I was in New York. I was visiting my best friend and a boy I really like. I start to wish I could've taken everything in better back when I was there instead of worrying about when I would have to return home. Now that I'm here I can't stop thinking about those wonderful moments and when I'll ever get to experience them again. I have regrets of all the things I should've done to take advantage of the short amount of time I had. I want to take action now so that I can work and return to the people and the place I love, but It's hard when I'm constantly thinking back and anxious that I'll fail and never get there. It's honestly killing me 🙁

  17. the voice has so much base that, I'm watching this on my phone without headphones, and I only hear hiss hiss hiss, can't understand half of the words.

  18. You know a lot of people experience severe hardship repeatedly during life. Try telling them that just worrying is their main problem. Which is what you’re doing.

  19. Anxiety depression steals my personalty that I build my self from lots of situations anxiety depression pick me into my childhood memories now iam a fearful person I affraid of everything in my life now after this anxiety. You know iam actually a fearless man before until this anxiety depression happens

  20. So I can't accept present I can't live with my family with my mind and I can't live with my friends and neighbours I can't communicate to them

  21. i can never enjoy my day cause i always think about (what if) something bad happend in the futur ..overthinking everything ah its disgusting i just cant live without stressing about something 😬😢😯

  22. These people making all these decisions and they don't know SHIT!!!!!!!! Lord Jesus grant me Independence from them. I don't know how they got my personal information.

  23. When ur present and future are bad, you tend to think about the time when you didn’t have the issues you have right now, and that time is usually 99% the past. Trust me, cuz I’m always focusing on the past.

  24. I have used the material in this video to bring me back to the moment several times now. Thank you. Just simply being mindful to enjoy an activity that I know the memory of will be wonderful.

  25. τραγική μετάφραση και καθόλου κατανοητό ή αποδοτικό το νόημα των εικόνων του βίντεο Κρίμα

  26. Why’s life so hard !
    Am crying right now 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭 I have so many problems !! I want to quit 😭😭😭😭😭😭

  27. This is a bigger issue than what is expressed in the video "things aren't the way they used to" it's so common and accepted, without questioning a deranged sense is nostalgia.

  28. "Quit. Don't quit. Noodles. Don't noodles. You are too concerned with what was and what will be. There's a saying: Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That's why it is called present."

  29. TOP 3 modern distractions for living in the present:

    1. Smartphone
    2. Worrying about future while regretting the past
    3. Endless desires and lust

  30. Cause we're always in pursuit of the next thing.Boredom and Cliches pave the way to progress. I'm always hungry means Im totally lacking and inauthentic and need to stand out as just another cliche.

  31. I'd say it's because the complexity of our pattern-recognition in the past and hypothesizing into the future are two of the key evolutionary advantages that let us survive the hyenas and jaguars and droughts of the Stone Age well enough to be sitting pretty now.

  32. The present can bring to an immediate halt the unstoppable momentum of predestined cause and effect. Knowing that is the secret to self-directed neuroplasticity.

  33. The Now is not a period of time (unless to you it's a concept) it's your very essence, your be-ing, your Self. It's everything. Time is of the mind, it's psychological, it's mental, it's illusion. Glad I checked the description, now (😂) I know this video is misleading.

  34. It is glib for us to expect ourselves to "always stay in the now". Now can be very overwhelming. Thinking of the past or future can be pacifying..
    The journey to now requires dedication, courage, patience, compassion and an understanding that even half a breath of presence is an admirable achievement.

  35. because the state, corporations, make everything you do difficult, and complicate everything with rules legislation, red tape,,PC, money, status,

  36. The past leads to depression
    The future xauses anxiety.

    Yesterday doesnt want to know !e.
    Tommorow isn't ready for yet.

  37. We all have an Inner-Self.It is the Inner-Self
    which controls our Emotions,Behaviours,
    Thoughts,etc.Through life we will face many
    Challenges,Issues,etc.We must have control
    of our Inner-Self to face the Challengers,Issues,etc.We must be Cool,
    Calm and Collective.We must use Logic,
    I have studied Psychology and Philosophy.
    Remember the ALPHA is the OMEGA.

  38. I'm 23 years old. When I was 3 years old I remember my cousin left after having a great day of fun and me going to my room to look at my backyard through the window and just crying because I for some reason knew that life would not be as fun or easy when I got older. I'm sitting in my old neighborhood at 7:41AM crying because I for some reason cant grasp outside of the idea that I have no grow up. I never want my parents to die and I wish I had my old friends. Because I never was able to go to college I feel I have missed out on so much in life. I didnt get to make those life long friends that my brother sister and all of my cousins got to make. I had to work at 16 and have had a job ever since. I'm thankful u was able to get a really great job last year but I am so afraid of the future and that my life is meaningless. I just want to go back to those times hanging out in the backyard with my cousin.

  39. How to deal with this shit? Deep breathing, meditation, accepting emotions and happenings.
    Stoic theory of amor fati helps as well. Good luck to all.

  40. Actually, whole volumes of books and days spent on intensive retreat can be necessary to cultivate the joys of ''mindfulness''. As for ''the difficulty of maintaining the entity called I''. That's a pointless burden. I am not my thoughts, nor the concoction of selective memory that masquerades as my personality or ''I''. Let it go. It's great to ''learn from the past'' and plan for the future, but not as an ongoing enterprise! Find joy and extend unconditional love and forgiveness to yourself in the present. It actually is the first step to making the world a better place. And yes, it can be hard and takes practice- that proves its value!

  41. Why? Because the past was fucked. The present is fucked. The future will be fucked. Best advice? Say fuck the past, present, and future.

  42. Me an 17 years old guy: Lives in present pretty normally…

    80's Japanese citypop/ads/anime: OH Hello There

    Me: : I don't care about present anymore

    Why? Because Im too scared to live in present And even more scared to live in the future -Im not joking

    BUT Seriously I love 80s so much not only Japanese…

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