Why to focus on this moment

The popular myth that goldfish have no more than three-second memories is just that, a myth. The truth? They’re actually rather good at remembering stuff way beyond this, almost certainly for three months or longer.

And in some ways this is unfortunate, because the idea of being unable to remember the past should in theory be an excellent way of reminding yourself to live in the present.

In fact, though, the present moment is the only moment over which you and I have complete control.

Can we change what happened ten days, or even ten minutes ago? No. What’s passed is in the past.

Can we truly predict what’s going to take place in ten days, or ten minutes? Again, no. In many ways the future lies beyond our control.

It’s in this current, present moment that we’re most able to choose what we do, and more importantly how we feel.

For instance, if you simply make yourself smile right now (and why not go ahead?) there’s pretty good evidence that you’ll trigger some of the same feel-good neurological responses that your brain experiences when you’re in a longer-term better mood.

Imagine. The only moment over which you have control is the present one, and you’re completely at liberty to decide whether it will be miserable or happy.

I think I know what I’d prefer, particularly when we also recognise that the longer-term future can simply be seen as a succession of present moments. It seems you and I have a lot more control than we might think.

And a lot more freedom than the average goldfish.

9 thoughts on “Why to focus on this moment

  1. “Can we change what happened ten days, or even ten minutes ago? No. What’s passed is in the past.”

    True, but the real ability here is how we can change how we view those events and how we perceive what happened ten days ago or ten minutes ago.

    Looking back on my childhood i have seen certain events thru the eyes of my 5 year old self, something that i seemed to have done for the last 35 years. This gave me a certain types of feelings and perceptions of those events which obviously directly effected the way i felt about them and the parameters involved.

    Not only did this have an effect on how i felt about the events specifically, but it also played a major role on how my general mental wellbeing was.

    Having gone thru massive changes in my life over the last two years, i have learnt that the man i used to be was completely defined by some of these key moments in my childhood.

    Walking thru life with the perception of my own personal history stuck in the viewing glass held by a five year old boy certainly seems a little dim now that i look back on it.

    Now, after the realisations of who i was and the actualisation of who i really am as Jonny has given me the perception in the history of Jonny that now is more aligned to my wiser adult self.

    So, true.. it doesn’t change the ‘what happened’, but for me it certainly has changed the emotional connect that i once had to these events allowing me to view those events in a completely different way.

    I’m not one who shares generally, not outside of my inner circle… but this article seemed to hit a spot that suggested a comment.

    I hasten to add that i am all for living in the moment. The moment is where we truly live life.


  2. Excellent. I shall endeavour to remember this one, Jon. Whenever I see a goldfish now…. You put it in such a way that my brain,however exhausted, can compute the information, and what you are able to do is such a precious a gift to have.

    And thanks,by the way, too!

  3. I totally agree about the value of focussing on the present moment, for all the reasons you give.

    However, I do have reservations about the ‘make yourself smile’ idea. For me it feels like the difference between a smile and a grimace of pain. I have spent my whole live ‘making’ myself do things – good things, beneficial things – to the point where, in the depths of depression, I was weeping as I ‘made myself’ brush my teeth.

    I have found it is more gentle to myself if I look for something, however tiny, that I know would usually give me pleasure, and do a sort of ‘remembered smile’.

    And thank you for explaining so clearly the importance of Now.


    1. Thanks Helen, what a great idea to find something to genuinely smile about. Right now I’m smiling about my almond butter and grape jelly sandwich, and knowing that I’m going to be in the redwoods this afternoon. So glad you shared that distinction with us. 😀

  4. Hi Jon Of course I know this but I always need reminding and the way that you have worded this message this time is especially helpful. I’m going to keep this for regular reference. Thank you

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