In my article “On the Danger of Procrastination“, I argue that one of the problems with procrastination is the human chronological thinking. I wanna elaborate on this here, as I think it’s a pretty rich topic that could easily stand on its own. And most of all, it concerns pretty much all of us.
We can’t just ignore our chronological thinking. And much less so in a technologically advanced society based on continuous work in exchange for money.
No matter how detached from materialism and everyday life you claim to be, money is a vital resource for all of us. And since so many people still choose to work for $15-$20 per spent hour monday through friday, we effectively put ourselves in a position where we force ourselves to think ahead. — For the sake of our safety, and, ultimately, perhaps even our very survival.
How many times have you sat at work or in class — maybe even at home — and found yourself looking at the time over and over?
Yeah, I know. You wanted so bad to not be in the here and now that you kinda waited for something else to happen rather than concern yourself with what’s right ahead of you.
Can you guess if that’s a good approach to live by?
Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with planning ahead. In fact, my impression is that way too few people set adequately specific plans for themselves.
The problem is, people seem to invest way too many resources in regretting the past or concerning themselves with the future, rather than accepting the fact that there’s no changing either the past OR the future.
Sure, we can use chronological thinking to learn from our mistakes and plan ahead. But all we can really, actively affect is the here and now. Because the past won’t ever come back, and the future won’t ever come. There’s only always this moment, right here and now.
As you ponder this strange, yet somehow obvious fact, I wanna talk a little about animals
See, on a completely immediate level, we can learn a lot from animals.
Because animals don’t bother themselves with the fact that there’s gonna be a “next year”, or even “tomorrow”. They plan nothing. Because they can’t, and they’d have no need for it even if they could. All there is to animals is right here and now.
… And if you need an example, just look at pretty much any dog being taken for a walk. They’re completely absorbed in the moment; researching their surroundings; not rarely displaying an immediate joy that is nothing short of touching. They’re mindful.
What would it take for you to feel just as great whenever you’re going for a walk?
Perhaps not surprisingly, there’s a strong association between living confidently, and living in the here and now. And, on the flip side, non-fident people often concern themselves with the things they can’t change (i.e. the past and future) rather than what they CAN change (the here and now).
Which will it be for you?
1. For just five minutes today, sit down with no distractions whatsoever. No phone, no laptop, no music, no social media. Just you, and whatever device you can measure five minutes on and still block any incoming messages.
2. Focus on your breathing. Feel the sensation of your breath as it continually enters through your nose, fills your lungs all the way down into your stomach, and goes back out.
3. Just be with the sensation of breathing without trying to analyze, change anything or make any judgments or assessments.
4. Whenever you become distracted by any thought, feeling, or sensation (and you will), gently and slowly bring your attention back to your breath.
5. If you think this is stupid and an unnecessary waste of time, do it for at least twice as long.