It is not necessary to live life constantly thinking of the future. Living in the moment, in the here and now, gives us joy. Does this mean that we should only do things that provide us happiness and make us feel well? Some might agree with this view, while others might think that in some occasions it is quite irresponsible (if you don’t go to work because you feel like it, for example).
I wrote an article about enjoying the moment and living a purposeful life, about how the two can overlap, and about their differences. I will re-introduce both views in this text, but if you would like to read more about it, you can click here. Today’s text is more about performing one or the other, or both.
‘Pleasure is the only thing one should live for, nothing ages like happiness’
– Oscar Wilde
The hedonic view suggests that to feel well and content we should try to achieve as much happiness and pleasure as possible and try to avoid what causes negative emotions. The eudemonic view is more focused on living life as your most authentic self, and is more concerned with personal growth and development.
Where the hedonic view tries to avoid negativity in order to enjoy life more, the eudemonic sees that negativity as a challenge and confronts the challenges because they can provide ways to grow. You can make use of both and they can overlap of course. If you are able to be aware of it, you can use it to your advantage.
I believe it to be important to realize what we do and think and what is capable of influencing us. Having an understanding of ourselves can help us do things that provide us joy whilst building our future selves. I think it is a balance between the two views that we can use to our advantage. It is not about living life in the present and ignoring the future, or never fully being in the present because you are thinking about a purpose. I believe that we should strive to live life with a magical combination of both.
‘Happiness then, is found to be something perfect and self-sufficient, being the end to which our actions are directed’
Everything you do is fuelling the future you. What I mean by that is that if you are eating unhealthy food, you are fuelling your body to be unhealthy. If you are listening to people talking negative, you are fuelling your mind to think negative. This works the other way around as well. If you start to listen to inspirational people, you are putting inspiration into yourself. And if you are working out and exercising your body, you are fuelling yourself to be fit and healthy.
Just think of it. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Or in 2? Or even next year? Are the current behaviours, people, thoughts, emotions, circumstances helping you to get to that point?
It can be difficult sometimes to figure out what we should do. I certainly have had my difficulties in trying to understand what I should do better or even to see how certain things in my life where actually stopping me from achieving what I wanted. Taking a step back to observe ourselves can be challenging and confronting, but I think it is important if we are willing to grow.
‘You get what you give. What you put into things is what you get out of them’
– Jennifer Lopez
A helpful exercise to accomplish this is by looking at your life as if it is a movie and you are the main character. What has the character done so far? What is he/she striving to accomplish? And what will his/her next chapter be like? By doing this, it allows you to observe yourself and think clearly about what your next step should be. I think that most of the time we already have the answers, and if we don’t we at least know that we should gain information and learn new things.
I believe the key is to enjoy the moment while building a future self. What I mean by this is that you have to do activities that you enjoy in the present that are beneficial to you, your thoughts, and your health. One way of doing this, is by eating food that is delicious and healthy at the same time. Maybe instead of watching things that only provide distraction, try watching things that can fuel your mind with information and new ideas.
I try to incorporate new ways to improve myself each day. I am not at the point yet that everything I do is considered ‘healthy’ or something in that order, but I think that is OK as well. As I said before, I think it is important to combine both views. Eating delicious foods that might not be healthy once in a while, is completely fine. However, if you have the desire to be fitter and healthier, try not eating as much of that stuff.