In life, there will always be obstacles, like any journey does. Many times we fantasize about an easy journey, one without obstacles, because somehow the present moment isn't "just perfect".
The reason people don't live in the present, is because it never really feels perfect, so they attempt to find it sometime in the future. But once attained, it still doesn't bring fulfillment, so they continue the cycle.
This is also rooted in the brain, when the brain recognizes an opportunity for reward, it releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. A dopamine rush doesn’t create happiness itself— the feeling is more like arousal, it's job is to motivate action.
So we escape the present moment for the future, but the future never arrives because there seems to be some obstacle that is preventing it from being perfect.
Our job isn't to make the future perfect, our job is to make the moment perfect.
Creating the perfect moment, is a lot like sitting in a coffee shop. We are absorbed in our environment, we are relaxed, and enjoying the company of others. We aren't trying to escape that moment, we are in that moment. We are absorbed in our senses, taking in the sights, the sounds and smells of the present.
But that's easy to do when the environment is what we prefer. So the challenge is manufacturing that when facing a difficulty.
Manufactured happiness is a natural thing our brains do. Just like in Tai Chi, nature seeks balance.
There was a well known study done back in 1978. They looked at happiness levels of people who won the lottery and those who had recently became paraplegic. They found that within six months, both groups returned to a relative happiness level slightly above neutral. While those who were in an accident were slightly less happy than lottery winners, they were still above "neutral".
So, the good news is that, so long as we don't dwell on the past about bygone years, our brains are incredibly capable at making ourselves happy, no matter what the situation.
So, to create soothing atmosphere in your life, Starbucks probably does the world's best job at that.
The former President of Starbucks, Howard Behar in a recent interview with Michael Port on "Steal The Show" shared some of his wisdom of overcoming challenges.
"What I have learned is that those voices of judgement inside of me, if I reject them out of hand, if I say, “Get out of here,” what happens is they come back with a vengeance.
"And what I’ve learned is to say to them, “Look, I just don’t have time for you right now. I hear you, but I don’t have time for you right now. So, let me get back to you.”
"And if I allow the voices of support and caring inside myself to come up without pushing…
"It’s like when you get angry, when you’re angry at another person, what happens? It’s like there’s a push back. It’s the difference between boxing and tai chi. Tai chi is about taking the blows and absorbing it, where boxing is about giving a blow. And I believe in the tai chi version inside myself.
Not just taking that blow, but saying, “I just don’t have time.” And then they just go away, it’s amazing. But when I push back hard, then they really come on strong. It’s the most interesting thing, I don’t even understand it myself, but I’ve learned it through trial and error.
Below is a video of Jet Li demonstrating the core principle of Tai Chi, the concept of Yin Yang and how the two forces compliment each other to create even greater power.