There

Everyone I know is trying to get somewhere.

Reach some goal, finish some project, scratch some item off a list of stuff to do.

Or trying to feel something they’re not feeling – satisfied, safe, successful, loved, appreciated, or the big one, happy.

I know I’m in trouble whenever a new client tells me “I just want to be happy.”

It’s like they imagine happy as a house they can move into and inhabit forever.

You know, a house out There.

But there’s no There there.

There’s Here and Now.

And people unhappy Here and Now rarely feel much happier There and Then.

Because life is process, not product.

Journey, not destination.

And real happiness is wanting what you’ve got, not getting what you want.

Or, as the philosopher J. Taylor has observed,

“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.”

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2 responses to “There

  • Robert

    What if here and now is a disfunctional, split level house relationship, inability to communicate, few shared interests and a dim view of the future? I should still stay in this house and pretend to like it. There must be somethere somewhere that is worth moving toward rather than enjoying the passage of intolerable time.

    • Steve Hauptman

      I suspect we’re thinking of different things. By here/now I don’t mean my current life-situation, financial or professional or relationship or otherwise. To me it means this present moment, uncontaminated by either memory or anticipation. So when I’m here/now — fully — I’m not remembering the argument I had yesterday or the bill I have to pay later. Here and now I’m sitting at my keyboard, typing this reply to you, breathing and feeling the feelings of this moment only. And in this moment I’m content. I’m not stressing over my relationship or trying to decide what to do about it. Here and now, I’m okay.

      None of this is to suggest you should pretend to be happy when you’re not, or shouldn’t hope or plan or try for something better. It’s to suggest that visiting the here/now, as I’ve described it, provides relief from what Buddhists call monkey mind — that endless cycle of remembering and anticipating which keeps us preoccupied with our pain. I also believe that, just as a vacation makes it possible to work better, this relief makes it possible to see more clearly and move towards genuine happiness.

      Plus it feels better. 🙂

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