Stop Saying You'll Do It Tomorrow
Escape unease through finding joy in the moment.
Posted Sep 10, 2020
We believe we are invincible. We are convinced there will always be a tomorrow—a magical place where everything somehow takes care of itself with minimal intervention from others. So many times, we place the dreams of our future on the shelf of tomorrow, realizing when it is too late that the expense of our momentary distractions is to sacrifice our hopes. Why do we so carelessly push the moments that really count off on tomorrow?
There is never enough
People in the modern world are busy. So busy, in fact, that stress and disease are on the rise, and much of it is attributable to the pace we grind through daily. Inflammation, now being examined as a potential root cause for many illnesses, has been directly linked to tension and constant worry.
Yet somehow, society continues to up the ante, and many of us willingly shrug into what we perceive as our “duty” to always keep reaching. There is never enough money, never enough success, never enough opportunity, and certainly never enough time. We scuttle from task to task, panting from the exertion of always reaching for more, and in the midst of our struggles, we lose sight of what really matters.
There are almost too many correlations between constant stress and mood changes to discuss. Nearly everyone is familiar with feeling sullen, dragging through everyday tasks, no longer finding joy in life, and always looking forward to the next opportunity to rest. The problem with this lifestyle is that rest never actually comes. Typically, it looks more like falling asleep in the middle of the book you’ve been wanting to read for months after having worked 15 hours to ensure your career, family, and house are in order. The slow burn that accompanies these behaviors often ends in consistently negative mood patterns, compromised immune systems, and decimated relationships. Since these impacts have been drilled into our subconscious, why do the majority of modern-day people continue to scramble down this path?
The answer to escaping the heat
Many of us closely resemble the old metaphor of a frog in a boiling pot, except we know that eventually, the hot water we’ve immersed ourselves in will kill us. We have the data. We have been lectured on the facts. The longer we soak in our stress-coated lives, the greater the likelihood of sickness, destruction, and death.
Still, we sit. Sometimes we complain about the heat, often we make plans to jump out, and a very few of us jettison ourselves as soon as it gets uncomfortable. The majority need someone to pick up the pot and dump us out before it is too late.
While we chase our tails in the race for some prize that most of us don’t really want anyway, we are missing out on the meaning of our lives. The small moments that are gifted to us in the giggle of a loved one, the taste of a new dish, or the tangerine burn of a sunset have the capacity to lift us out of our doom. When we can’t seem to place the last time we really laughed or the last time we noticed the beauty around us, we need to sound the alarm bells. Too many people are watching the seconds tick by, and extraordinary experiences are slipping through their fingers.
The year 2020 should have taught us that nothing is guaranteed. In all honesty, there were ample opportunities to learn this long before the chaos of this year battered into our defenses. While it provides momentary comfort to ignore the potential of uncomfortable change heading our way, our energy may be better spent in absorbing the tiny moments of delight available now. Instead of constant movement prepping for “what if,” a refocus on “what now” may be what saves us.
Mindfulness taking action
Mindfulness is a well-established first step in reducing stress. In fact, it has been connected to improved physiological symptoms in many areas and is an incredibly useful tool to re-establish our focus on simplicity and health. Taking it a step further, once we are able to focus on and accept the present, we can harness its power through acting on it. Rather than stopping at being aware of the present, we need to learn to live in it.
Seizing the day is not going to stop all forward progress and cause our life goals to come crashing down around us. The opposite typically happens. Individuals who master living in the present often come out on the other side calmer, more rational, and with more clarity regarding their hopes and dreams.
In a sense, a present-focused mindset accompanied by action can help us better understand why we are putting in all of this effort. It zeroes our minds and bodies in on the essentials and puts much of our existence into a healthier perspective. Are we really here to make a name for ourselves, or are we here to make an impact on the people we love? Is success measured by financial liberty, or is it calculated off of our freedom to live authentically?
Value is a relative term. For some, it is inestimable to be at the top of the ladder in their career, but others would give up every day they worked in exchange for 10 more minutes with a loved one. While never having to worry about financial resources is the epitome of success to some, there are people who would relinquish their fortune for the treasure of being healthy.
To live an authentic life and stay out of the boiling pot, you have to determine what is most valuable in your own world. You have to differentiate the “somedays” from the “now.” It becomes crucial to immerse yourself in the splendor of everyday events and to notice the pleasures available to you in the moment.
Stop saying you will take that trip after you retire. Stop saying you will get healthy when there is more time. Stop saying you will play hide and seek with your kids tomorrow. Stop putting too much value on tomorrow, when it is guaranteed to no one.
Carnegie Mellon University. "How stress influences disease: Study reveals inflammation as the culprit." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402162546.htm>.
Hughes, J. W., et al. 2013. Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction for prehypertension. Psychosomatic Medicine. 75 (8): 721-8.
Maydych, V. 2019. The Interplay Between Stress, Inflammation, and Emotional Attention: Relevance for Depression. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 13: 384.