At the end of his TEDx Talk, speaker Dylan Woon presents two possibilities following acceptance. These routes are:
1. Live peacefully with the situation
2. Strive actively to change things
Might there be a third, hidden middle route to walk between these two paths? Perhaps one must shift back-and-forth between these options until the new situation solidifies. Whatever mode of existence one has decided on at this point may be the middle way of the accepted reality.
The topic of today’s entry is mindfulness. This concept has gained considerable popularity in recent years, particularly from psychologists. Such psychologists are generally interested in one essential question: assuming happiness and well-being are desirable goals for any living creature (including humans), how do we go about reaching them?
Now, obviously, happiness is a very abstract notion. There are many paths to it, though the destination has clear commonalities across individuals that are worth noting. One such pattern psychologists take note of is that the happy person does not dwell excessively on the past or future: rather, they are firmly rooted in the present moment, open to the natural progression of whatever situation they currently find themselves in.
In an age where speed seems to have become more important than ever to keep up with the breakneck paces of the Joneses, and where the dissemination of new (mostly digital) information has accelerated as rapidly as it has, such a ‘mindful’ mindset is crucial. In order to be happy, we must come to terms both with our worldly situation and who we are: the latter is what really leads to our contentment in the long run.
It’s easy to get swept up in thoughts along the lines of “the more things I do now, and the quicker I do them, the better off my future-self will be”. And there is wisdom to that approach. But on the flip-side–especially for the young, who see so many opportunities in the world that slowing down simply isn’t an option containing any pragmatic or reasonable bearing–it can lead to unwisely neglecting the present in favor of what’s yet to come, or (for all we know) might never come. And that’s where long-term disillusionment and discontentment begin seeping into life and taking their ugly form.
There’s a lot that’s worthwhile about the ‘go with the flow’ route most mindfulness theorists advocate for, and I’ll touch more on it–specifically, on how to practice and benefit from it–in the next post.