The Present is an Opportunity, Not a Gift

Many people are preoccupied with the present.

How you feel right now is temporary. Pleasure fades, pain passes, exhaustion is replaced with energy – “now” does not matter nearly as much as people seem to think. Skipping a workout or opting for fast food over a well-prepared meal may seem more pleasurable in the moment, but look to the future. When tomorrow comes, will you feel better for having pushed through your workout or for spending the evening zoned out in front of the TV? Next month, will energy or fatigue serve you better? Next year, will you be more pleased with toned muscles or extra flab?

It is not easy. We are conditioned to seek pleasure – in a time before civilization, there was an advantage to resting muscles worn from the hunt or employing the energy rush from a rare sweet snack. It made people stronger and more likely to survive. But now we do not live on the edge of survival. Many of us have safe beds and convenient stores where all our needs can be met. We do not need to stay fit just to get through each day. A life spent indulging in pleasure does not generally lead to starvation, but it makes us weak, unhappy, and lazy. Strength takes discipline – consciously and consistently pushing to work harder, to reach farther, and to be better.

Life is still full of challenges, and there are still pleasurable moments to savor. But to live a successful life – one that leads to a sense of pride and accomplishment instead of regret – patience and perseverance are essential. Set a goal for yourself and envision what that will look like when it is accomplished. Make a plan and implement it faithfully. Reject naysayers and surround yourself with positivity and encouragement. Never give up – stay focused on that vision and know that it will happen with time and discipline.

“Now” is fleeting – it is already gone, always to be replaced with a new moment. What remains is the future. Learn from the successes and mistakes of the past and use the present to improve your future.