Monday, December 01, 2008


There's a lot of talk about mindfulness these days. It's particularly popular among counseling professionals. Basically, mindfulness is the practice of staying fully present in the moment. It's often closely associated with Eastern philosophy/religion and Buddhist meditation. As a concept, I see nothing wrong with keeping generally focused on where you are and what you are doing. Indeed, a lot of therapy centers around troubles associated with dwelling too much on the past or worrying too much about the future.
Now, I'm not about to say mindfulness is against the past or future. I'm just wondering if the whole "be here now" phenomenon can be overdone and cause us to lose some perspective in life. After all, I can easily come up with equally pithy statements about learning from the past and planning/anticipating the future. The key is in how we think about our past, present, and future.
Does being "in the moment" translate to handling each urgent matter before you until it's 5PM and you realize you haven't planned so far into the future as to remember your child's basketball game? Does taking it "day by day" absolve you of setting long range goals and taking risks to do something bigger & better?
What about learning from the past? The only way to redeem a mistake is to learn from it. Guilt is healthy if it tells us "Hey, think about that differently next time. You'll feel better if you change how you handle that." Similarly, if worry about the economy and my financial future keeps me up at night, that's not so great. If the same concern causes me to trim my budget and add to my savings and then stop thinking about it, well, that's pretty useful.
I'm still trying to balance thinking about past, present, and future. How about you?

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