Sorry, it's really true: being present is foundational to mental wellness.
Updated: Jul 7, 2022
It sounds lame.
And it's certainly not something that will make anybody loads of cash, so why would we hear about it often?
But it really is true. Being present makes us happier.
Here at Alive Minds, we have a first principle of "simplicity."
First principle: a fundamental concept on which a system is based.
Knowing your first principles is crucial. It guides your decision-making in every moment of your life. Without them, you don't take control of your life and leave your mental wellness to chance.
The first principle of simplicity tells us the most simple thing we can do as a human being: dam our thought stream, and observe our environment.
Our brains have amazing capabilities. We can plan for the future, analyze the past, and work to create incredible things (like rockets, or blog posts). But all of these capabilities require energy. When our energy is low, our mental state is one of the first things sacrificed.
One of the main goals of an Alive Mind is to allocate energy as effectively as possible. This is why negative or useless conversations, activities, and people are avoided at all costs. Those things sap energy, leaving less for living by the first principles that will leave us mentally balanced.
There are two reasons why being present is central to mental wellness:
1. It acts as a mental energy replenisher.
How? Think of it like this: imagine our foreheads had a giant name tag. Except, instead of displaying a name, they gave a one-word description of how we are feeling. At the beginning of the day, everyone's feeling tag says "content." As the day goes on and we feel something other than content, a new tag is put on top of our "content" tag. Eventually we have a pile of tags, and inevitably, the tag on top of the pile will read "drained." This is because each new tag takes a little bit of energy.
Being present feels like removing each tag one by one, until you've stripped everything away, and you uncover being "content."
2. Most things that cause a mental imbalance are
either in the past or the future.
Being present escapes you from those things.
Next time you find yourself feeling worry or stress, determine the source. It's likely from going inside your head and thinking about something that has already happened, or something that may happen. Being present works because in today's world a majority of people don't have legitimate worries or stressors physically in front of them right now. If you're reading this post, chances are your basic needs are met. You know where your next meal is coming from, and there's likely not an imminent threat to the safety of you or your loved ones. Those are legitimate worries and stressors.
Two final notes on being present.
First, adding an element of gratefulness goes a long way. If you are healthy, bingo. That's a great place to start. The best medicine to take is perspective. Millions of people are struggling with ailments, both physical and mental, some due to no fault of their own. Send those people some positive energy while being grateful for the opportunity to be healthy.
"The best medicine to take is perspective."
Second, being present is an innate ability; anyone can do it. Remaining present, though, is like a muscle. It will take training to make being present a first principle and taking a foundational step toward your mental wellness.