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Living In The Future, Two Steps Ahead

Living in the moment, although a major factor in living happily, can also be your undoing. There is a fine line to be walked between living in the moment and living with only the future in mind. While older generations, especially those of immigrant families, focused almost entirely on planning and saving for the future, Generation-Y — our generation — focuses entirely on living in the moment.

YOLO, right? Well yes, you do only live once, but the goal is to live past the moment and not only up until the point the moment passes. You want to spend your weekend snorting cocaine off a hooker’s ass, drinking yourself stupid and spending every waking moment raging?

Go ahead, but then be prepared to pay the consequences of being miserable for the next week. It’s easy to exclaim YOLO when you’re burping rainbows and butterflies, but when you find your view obstructed by the sides of your toilet bowl a short few hours later, good luck exclaiming anything other than yesterday’s dinner.

The trick is to live for the moment, but think for the future. Most of us have an issue with balancing the two. You will come across extremists from both sides very often. I am confident that just about each and everyone of you know someone strictly following one of the two ways of living — you yourself are likely to belong to either group.

Living in the moment causes nearsightedness while living solely for the hopes of a better tomorrow causes farsightedness. The only way to avoid either calamity is to find an even ground to stand on somewhere in the purgatory between both extremes.

Living for the moment is for those in search of instant gratification — the curse of Generation-Y. Only a few nights ago I went out with a friend of mine; she’s a beautiful girl in her late 20s working in finance. We went to a couple of places in the city, but didn’t do anything too extreme — at least, we didn’t go anywhere inspirational of raging, but rather kept things somewhat low key.

Nevertheless, my friend decided it was a good time to exclaim “YOLO,” take down a line and pop half a Molly. I watched as she quickly went from being present, to getting quickly excited, raging for a few minutes — mind you, no one else in the place was in the same mindset — and then disappearing somewhere into herself. She didn’t physically leave my sight, but she was no longer mentally present. And that’s when my night as a babysitter began.

She had her hour or so of satisfactory excitement and then lost touch with reality. Yes, sometimes it can be fun to get lost — the issue only arises when you have trouble leaving the moment in your day-to-day activities. What really got me thinking about all of this was doing the weeklong juice cleanse that I just finished (I have to give a quick shout-out to @beQuJuice for making me some amazing juices and making the fast more bearable).

Not eating for an entire week and only surviving off vegetable/fruit juice makes you look at the act of eating a bit differently. Most of us eat because we enjoy eating; we enjoy the way that food tastes and we enjoy the feeling of being full or satisfied — it gives us a feeling of comfort.

However, the purpose of eating is not to feel comforted, but rather to give us the nutrients that we need to survive and grow. We eat to feel gratified — at the moment. Scarfing down two slices of greasy $1 pizza may make you feel great for the first three minutes after you finish them, but — and maybe it’s only me who feels this way — after about an hour you’ll feel like shit.

I came to realize that every time I made a poor food decision in the past, it was because I was too eager to feel comforted; I was hungry and that made me feel uncomfortable, so I would consume whatever was available in order to relieve that discomfort.

I was thinking about how I could better my situation at that moment. What I wasn’t taking into consideration is how I would feel down the line. This is the key to allowing happiness to manifest itself in your life: consider the effects of your actions two steps ahead and not only the initial effect of the action.

Consider how your actions today will make you feel tomorrow and not only about the immediate gratification you will receive. The beauty of our reality is that tomorrow will be here before you know it and the past will only be a memory — if you are always living for the moment that will be just slightly down the road instead of living for the fleeting moment, then you will be always setting yourself up for happiness.

Instead of considering how an action will make you feel immediately after, contemplate over how the action will make you feel tomorrow. If your actions of yesterday are making you feel good today, then you don’t need to worry about feeling good at the moment; you already will!

This will diminish the need for instant gratification. You will no longer be trying to make yourself happy, but rather spend your time thinking about how you can continue to remain happy. Starting a project is never as easy as maintaining one. If you are uncomfortable right now, antsy or disgruntled, don’t think about what you can do to change your mood at the moment.

If you do that, you will most likely find that your decision only gave you passing happiness — you will wake up tomorrow feeling that whatever benefits you reaped from yesterday’s work have already passed. Then you will need to start all over — you will find yourself playing a losing game of catch-up. Instead, find a way to better your situation, your mood, your outlook on life for tomorrow.

When tomorrow arrives, which it always does sooner than you hope for, you will be enjoying the benefits from the work you put in yesterday and have a clear mind to plan for the following day. Start by living for tomorrow and then, once tomorrow looks prosperous, you can live in the moment — this way, the moment will always seem a little brighter and tomorrow a little more possible.

Paul Hudson | Elite. 

For more from Paul, follow him on Twitter @MrPaulHudson