I was in yoga class a few weeks ago when our yoga instructor asked us all this question. It really got me thinking, and I realized that this happens to me quite often. When someone is annoying me, when the lines are long at the store, when the temperature is too hot or too cold, or when a workout is kicking my a**, I catch myself wishing I was somewhere else, somewhere more comfortable.
Why is that when we are uncomfortable we distract ourselves from the situation by wishing it away, by visualizing what could be better? Often we are so focused on what is going wrong that we blind ourselves from seeing what is actually going RIGHT. This is natural of course; it is a thought process that once helped humans survive, when being able to anticipate danger was an evolutionary advantage. However, we now live in a world of convenience, safety, structure, and technology, and survival is luckily not something most of us have to fight for every day. So why then do we let these worries of the future exist when they no longer serve a useful purpose? In fact, constantly worrying about what happened yesterday or what may or may not happen tomorrow causes us to live a fearful rather than joyful life. We create stress and anxiety in the body because we are no longer living in the Now. We fail to see the lessons that are to be learned and the knowledge that is to be gained from firmly rooting ourselves in the present, even when things don't go our way. These thoughts become habits. When we spill coffee on our clean shirt in the morning we think, "today is not going to be a good day". Or we believe that just because we hit every red light on the way to work that the universe is against us, that today is not our day. Why do we victimize ourselves like that?
If there is a particular aspect of your life that you are unhappy with or that you spend a lot of time worrying about ask yourself this question, "What am I actively doing each day to make a change?". It doesn't have to be anything huge or life-changing; small changes are better than none at all, but simply wishing that things were different means you have taken the back seat, that you are no longer in control of your own life. It means that you are pushing back your goals and living a life that is less than your full potential.
Next time you're feeling hurt, sad, tired, or annoyed take a moment to reflect; are you wishing you were somewhere else? Decide in that moment to be present, to accept that the future never arrives and the past does not exist. All we have is this moment, and all that matters is how we choose to react. Next time your muscles are burning from a workout; be there. Next time you're in a heated situation and feeling out of your element; be there, too. Realize that these moments, not your visions of the future, are the reality. By grounding yourself in the present you allow yourself to recognize the opportunities in front of you, and when you stop worrying about "what if" and start seeing "what is" you become more receptive and open. Instead of feeling like a victim you begin taking control. You'll feel peace instead of stress because you aren't concerning yourself with anything but the present moment. Some of the most important moments in our lives turn out to be the ones where we felt the most the most uncomfortable. The more accepting we can be of what is happening Now, the more we can begin to truly experience and appreciate life.