Today we ask that you work with what is right in front of you.

Many people spend a lot of mental energy fantasizing about imaginary events in the future, or obsessing about things that happened in the past — usually wishing that they could change the past so that they could be living some different life.

Meanwhile, life is unfolding right in front of such people, and they are blind to it.  They might as well have virtual reality goggles strapped to their faces, running all these past and future projections.

You can tell when people are in this state, because they don’t really seem to be present or listening when you speak to them.  They are perpetually distracted, with a kind of fog or haze over their eyes.  Often they will cut you off in mid-sentence to interject some thought of their own.  That’s because they haven’t been listening to you; just their own mental chatter, which bursts forth from their mouth.  

Such people are jittery and bored, always looking for the next thing to do, always thinking about what they ought to be doing instead of what they are doing right now.

It is a very miserable way to live life.  It is also utterly exhausting, to have one’s mind constantly running all these past and future projections.  It is a major source of fatigue, and nervous burnout.

How much better you would feel if you could just calm down your mind, and focus on what is right in front of you.  Consider how much more effective and productive you would be, if you could focus with calm attention on performing whatever task is immediately at hand.

Think of what a good friend, partner, or parent you could be — if you could quiet your mental chatter and actually listen to the person who is speaking to you.  If you could respond to them, as they actually are, rather than answering to your own mental projections, or thinking about all the other things you could be doing right now.

Consider what a great benefit to the world even one person who moves through life with this kind of calm clarity is.  What a great coworker, friend, partner, or parent such a person is.

Beyond that, a life lived with consciousness is a life truly lived, rather than slept through.  One feels a vitality, an enthusiasm, and a sense of excitement when a life is lived this way.  What will happen next?  You don’t know — but you are ready to meet whatever it will be with full attention.

How can this be done?

By recognizing that fantasizing about the future and obsessing about the past is an addiction, and in reality very destructive behavior.  Like all addictions, it is hard to stop, especially because “everyone else does it.”  But the first step in dropping this behavior is by recognizing that it is in fact an addiction, and not good for you.

Just start paying attention when your mind is running away with you into fantasies of the future, or ruminating about the past.

Whenever you notice it is happening, label the thought “future,” or “past.”

Then gently see if you can bring your consciousness back to whatever is happening around you or inside you right now.

Do you want to “save the world”?  Consider what a world populated by calm, present, focused people might look like.  Then exit that projection, and start with yourself, right now.  Work with what is right in front of you.

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