We can't live in the present

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Joe Dispenza
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We can't live in the present

Why do we find it so hard to keep our focus on the present time and place? Even when we are aware of the benefits of being connected to the here and now, we often fail to live in the present moment.

Last update: February 02, 2020

We all know what the Latin expression Carpe diem of the Roman poet Quinto Orazio Flacco means: seize the day. The complete sentence would be "Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero", which can be translated as "seize the moment, have no faith in tomorrow". Nevertheless, we often forget to follow this advice and fail to live in the present.



We are convinced that it is easier and more profitable to wait for tomorrow to arrive, postponing what we have to do, rather than living in the present moment. Some, in fact, are unable to enjoy the moment, to focus on the here and now. A real addiction to the past that prevents us from living in the moment, leaving us static and sulky in our thoughts.

The worst part is that we don't know if this ability has been taken away from us with "civilization". If, that is, by overcoming our primitive state we have progressively stopped using instinct. Why can't we live in the present? Does it have to do with human evolution? In this article we try to answer these questions.

We cannot live in the present because we judge and we are judged

Eckhart Tolle, in a masterful conference held in Barcelona, ​​started precisely from this "misfortune" concerning man: being trapped by mental, material and emotional forms. Stop contemplating them as something temporary in order to be able to identify with them. To cease being present ... to be mentally satisfied.


An attitude that has nothing to do with isolation or paralysis. In reverse. There is no doubt that this conduct still implies an active and not a passive lifestyle.


The crux of the matter is to act and be present with what you feel, without judging or feeling continuously judged. The most mature form of a person's commitment and character.

“Action always happens in the present, as an expression of the body, which exists only in the here and now. The spiritual mind is like a ghost, always living in the past or the future. The only power this has over you is to take your attention away from the present. "
-Socrates-

Connecting with the present: the absence of ego and guilt

Sometimes, giving up being caged by mental forms is a bit like pleasant contact with a baby, with nature, or with an animal. It is exciting to see a person spend his time with someone who neither judges him nor fills him with glory. For some people it is difficult, others finally find their reality. The latter are able to relax and live in the present moment when they do not feel judged.

But there are those who feel they always and constantly have to prove something. A problem not only concerning the connection with the present moment, but also with an excess of narcissism and ego.

People who, perhaps, lack good company or hang out with the wrong one. These factors force them to a very difficult task: making your life bearable without always being subjected to judgment. Without a culprit to blame and to blame for everything they do.


Connecting to the present is only possible following a radical acceptance of mental states, without being subjected to them either morally or intellectually. Being able to contemplate the shapes of the world without feeling defined by them. In summary, let's talk about the difference between excess of intellectualization and true wisdom.


We can't live in the present because of detachment and Western culture

In the West it is difficult to understand detachment. We refuse to let ourselves go. When we have a family, friends or partner, we are convinced that they will last forever. When something happens that we don't expect, we suffer. A suffering that arises precisely from our inability to accept detachment, towards feeling free and connected with the present dimension. If we are convinced that everything depends on us and we on it, connecting with the present moment will be very difficult.

“If you don't get what you want, you suffer.
If you get what you don't want, you suffer.
Even when you get exactly what you want, you continue to suffer because you know you can't keep it forever. "
-Socrates-

When faced with death, it takes months or even years to accept the disappearance of a loved one, even if it is ultimately the normal process of life. Death is inevitable and, as such, it is not in itself sad and painful. The suffering lies in not accepting it as a normal life process.

Knowing how to live in the present moment for our mental health

For us Westerners, addicted to the era of consumerism and productivity at any cost, the search for the present moment has almost become a luxury. Who has time to slow down to savor the calm of the morning or the smell of the mowed lawn?


We have the impression that we are always in a hurry. A race that, for most of us, turns into a difficult routine. Our daily life is free of breaks and constantly projected to the weekend, the next vacation or the next holiday.


We go to work thinking about when we will go out for dinner, while we spend Sundays anxious about the imminent arrival of Monday. Our present is so boring and empty that it makes us run away from it.

Living in the present moment is easier if we start from our values

In a society that values ​​performance, the concept of "here and now" can surprise, becoming synonymous with laziness and inattention. But this is not about hasty philosophy.

The present takes on value through the past and the future. This is not a static photo, but a real film. We need to know where we come from in order to take actions that can build our future. We can think about environmental problems, behaving already now with the awareness that our actions will affect the future.

Struggling against the oppression that forces us to stop, we end up wondering about the meaning of existence. Because often that is what is missing in our lives: a meaning. It is important to know what motivates our actions and our choices.

This does not imply a frantic search for spectacular goals. Making sense of life means finding what matters most to us and working on this priority accordingly. We talk about the family, about a love, about our children, etc. Only by having a clear goal that makes sense to us can we truly take the time to savor the path that leads us towards it.

Living the here and now to build memories linked to our values

By stopping to enjoy the present moment, we build happy memories of what we feel. Some call them "warm memories" which, unlike the cold ones built by our intellect, are indelible and turn into a source of consolation.

If we cannot find the time to enjoy these moments of happiness in our life because we are too busy chasing success, we will have the impression that our existence is lacking in content. The famous "forty-year crisis" is often the result of this shortage.

Why can't we sometimes live in the present?

Simply feeling alive and healthy here and now can be a cause for joy. But even in this case, to really appreciate the moment, you need to know how to stop. Author Sarah Ban Breathnach's advice is to keep a journal in which to write down five things you are grateful for every night. We will realize that we are much richer than we think.

We have been taught phrases such as "the present depends on your past" or "building a good future depends only on you", linking the idea of ​​the present to values ​​such as inactivity, uselessness or invisibility. A person who does not think about the importance of a good past baggage and a promising future is lost. In some vulnerable people, these phrases lead to stalemate, anxiety, hyperactivity or depression.

Guilt generates much more agitation than sin, while the future they feared so much has probably already arrived without bringing with it any catastrophe. We have to live in the present, commit ourselves to something completely, abandon mental forms.

The only way to do this is to accept everything that happens to us with interest in what is happening in the present moment and recognizing how nothing is, in fact, so horrible compared to what we had imagined. Often, negative events happen are in our mind, trapped as we are in the world of social forms and disconnected from our feelings.

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