Another perspective on being present.
Your brain works by forming patterns of neurons that fire together in predictable ways to create meaning. The patterns are like paths trod into the veld, like tiny rivers that flow through the spongy mush of your brain. With many repetitions, they erode it away until they become deep gullies, almost impossible to escape from. If you just let your mind go and pay no conscious attention then the water of daily stimulation just runs down familiar paths and etch them still deeper.
To be present is to deliberately choose where the water flows. You can direct it onto new paths and form new connections with new perspectives. If you are not present you take the road of least resistance. You follow the patterns already done a million times. Like a wheel spinning without touching the ground, you run very fast and get nowhere. By activating old, familiar patterns you stay mostly the same and live in the past.
Not being present is a lot easier. You do not have to learn or change. Your subconscious baby loves this. It can predict what is going to happen and knows how to handle it. There is no fresh pain, no fresh disappointment. Just comfortable homoeostasis. There are no unknowns.
If you are present you might notice that your mental models are completely wrong. Then you have to build a new mental model or even more than one. This is a lot of work, so your brain avoids it. It has worked so far, right? If you continue on this path of no change then the only way you will grow is if you fail. Only when absolutely forced to do so will you change. To paraphrase the fantasy author Terry Pratchett: “It’s time to drag you kicking and screaming into the Century of the Fruitbat.”
If you continue on this path of no change then the only way you will grow is if you fail. Only when absolutely forced to do so will you change. As the fantasy author, Terry Pratchett said: “It’s time to drag you kicking and screaming into the Century of the Fruitbat.”
Or you can stay ahead of the curve. You can seek to find flaws in your models before they lead to catastrophes. You can welcome change and enjoy having new experiences. You can play with life and grow with joy instead of to avoid pain. So wake up, activate your prefrontal cortex and start living!
To happiness, and beyond!