When I was growing up, my grandpa would always say to us “better days are coming”. My cousins and I would hear this a lot while we watched the stock market with him, pretending we had a clue what was going on. Green means good and red means bad. That’s as far as we got.
I remember him saying this to my mom as well, probably to cheer her up when I acting like I was too cool for school. Spoiler Alert: I was the coolest.
He repeated this phrase hundreds of times, to the point where my family members would roll their eyes and reply “they’ve been coming for 15 years grandpa, get over it!” Even after being diagnosed with lung cancer, better days were always coming, and at some point I started to actually believe him.
For a long time, the optimism behind this phrase had a positive effect on my life. In high school, as an incredibly bored teenager, I was waiting for the better days coming in college. Everything would be so great there! I wouldn’t get detentions for kissing girls in the hallway or for being late to class. I could just roll out of bed, put on some pants, and waltz on over to an auditorium where the teacher could care less if I paid attention or not.
In college, I couldn’t wait for better days to come after I graduate. I could get a real job, a life and actually start living. Wouldn’t it be so nice to have some money in my pocket. I could buy a house, a car, get a girlfriend, and spend my weekends playing video games or traveling around the world. Whatever I wanted.
Now, having been in the work force for over 4 years, I’m still waiting for those better days. I still haven’t left the United States (except for Canada which doesn’t count), I’m buried in college loans, and I can barely afford to pay my bills every month. But better days are still coming, right?
After all of the waiting, I realized my grandpa was wrong.
Better days aren’t coming, they’re already here.
The better days that I’ve been waiting for had been there all along; I just couldn’t see them. I found the better days when I stopped waiting to become happy and just started being happy. The future isn’t where we should keep happiness; happiness should be in the present.
We invest all our thoughts, time and effort into our future, we often lose sight of the pleasures of the present moment.
We don’t enjoy our alone time because we stress about what we’re doing later
We can’t enjoy parties because we worry about being hungover the next day
We become frustrated when we can’t accomplish something and start to feel like we are wasting our life
We don’t enjoy tasty treats because we think about how hard it’ll be to burn off the calories.
We cannot let the troubles of tomorrow dictate the happiness of today.
To quote the Dalai Lama: “Man surprises me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Our relentless stressing over the future is ruining the happiness of the present.
When we live in the present moment, we allow ourselves to be mindful of how we’re feeling and who we are. The present moment only has a few inhabitants: us and our current situation.
Right now, I’m sitting here writing; something that I love. I like to think that this is helping others and providing them with insight to enrich their lives, which I also love. I have a roof over my head, food in the refrigerator and people I can call friends. Ignoring any thoughts and worries about how my future will unfold, this life looks pretty good.
So let’s ask ourselves: at this current moment, what is there to stress about? What is there to be unhappy about?
Become mindful only of what is occurring right now and focus on enjoying exactly where we are.
Tomorrow is a day that isn’t promised, so don’t bank any happiness there.
Live in the present.
Live in the moment.
Enjoy the now.