Is “Being Present” Overrated?

Many thought-provoking thinkers and best-selling books have encouraged us to be “in the present.” This is great advice under some, but not all, circumstances.

On the positive side of the issue, when being present is used in the sense of listening with focus, being present is a great idea. A wandering mind or thinking too far ahead what to say next in a conversation, for example, are usually counter productive.   When not listening with immediacy, you’re likely to be less creative and connected. On the other hand, when it comes to creating successful results, “being present” can lead us down a rabbit hole. It all has to do with how we perceive and use the ideas of time as in Past, Present, and Future.

I recently attended a lecture where thought leader Dr. Barry Morguelan, M.D.,  explored how easily we get stuck in negative or painful emotions from the Past. Yet, he sees, that trying to grab onto the Present isn’t an effective train out of Stuckville. Why? Because, if we are honest, the Present so instantly becomes the Past, is so fleeting, that the Present offers no genuine chance to create the kinds of success most of us desire.  It just disappears too quickly into becoming the Past.

As an alternative way of thinking about Time and our relationship to it, he advises that we are better off using the Past to clarify either

1) what we want more of; or 2) what we want to change. Easy enough, right?

He suggests that changes require planning which require thinking about the Future. He suggests creating targets and goals about what we do want in the future. This frees our minds to give us the best shot at short- and long-term successes. Planning for the future – which is always ahead of us, based on a consistent attention to what we are liking and not liking about our past, is a powerful success technique.  
  As for The Present? Well, Dr. Morguelan says with a smile, “The Present is best used for enjoyment.”