I heard this quote very recently and it really hit home with me. When I looked it up I realised it had been said by a Chinese philosopher who lived over 2000 years ago which makes it even more profound. When I sat and thought about this quote I realised how vital it was for true happiness and how by applying it in my life I have managed to solve a lot of my problems.
Almost 7 years ago now my Dad committed suicide and this brought about a lot of mental turmoil, mainly because he was an alcoholic and I had not even had a conversation with him over the previous 3 years. This led to a deep depression because I kept thinking of all the things I could have done that would have prevented it. Looking back now I know this was futile because I could never change what had already happened and by holding onto the what ifs I was only causing myself pain.
Then there is the worrying about the future and in my life this has been a major problem, particularly when I was not happy with my life as is, for example at school. Every time I have had exams in my life I have found the stress unbearable and this has kept me awake all night. However the truth surely has to be that I knew I had put everything in place and I needed to trust myself. Also when thinking about anxiety I can definitely say that most of my worrying about what was going to happen was because I wanted to change what was happening now. This led me to think about the things that would happen in the future and not what I could do about them now.
In my life I have read the book How To Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie several times and I am sure everyone can get something out of it. The thing that has stuck with me the most is to assess your situation, consider what the worst that could happen is, accept that and find a way to improve it. If you can live with the worst possible outcome then the reality can only be an improvement on that and this concept also brings your attention to the present moment and what you can do right now to improve your situation.
It has taken me a long time to work through all these ideas and see that living in the present has to be the goal. Of course I am not perfect and like everyone I will dwell on the past or worry about the future but these things are happening less and less. I try to live my life by thinking about what I need right now to be happy and make the changes accordingly. Living in the present does not mean being reckless or not caring about the outcomes of things but it means you take responsibility for your own happiness and do not put the blame on the past or wait for something else to happen. Just the act of taking this responsibility can have a profound effect on how you feel, try it for just one day.
For me I now feel a large amount of contentment, hardly ever suffer from insomnia and today found myself laughing while doing the washing up because I just felt so happy, weird I know! I will say it has taken some bravery from me, I have had to make decisions that go against the grain but are things that work for me, so I no longer have a high powered city job and do the things that I want but it makes everyday a pleasure and something I would recommend to anyone that wants to know what true happiness is.