Last night I had a strange dream in which I was on the side of an active volcano. Because I was so focused on future things I needed to do there, I didn't leave after seeing the first small lava flow. The second flow was much larger, and then it was too late. The dream didn't end gruesomely yet it left a strong imprint in my mind about how important it is to stay present. If I had been present, I would have left when the first lava flow began.
Like many in the northern hemisphere, I've found myself dreading the approach of the colder months... Even during an incredibly beautiful and seasonally warm weekend. What a complete waste of time and energy. What an easy way to become completely and unnecessarily depressed.
Research by Harvard psychologists Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert found, “A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind, the ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”
Killingsworth says, “Mind-wandering is an excellent predictor of people’s happiness. In fact, how often our minds leave the present and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged.”
Basically, we are where our thoughts are. In the present moment we are happiest.
Grateful for this dream, I'm now re-committed to stay in the present moment. Or at least, when I notice I'm in the future or the past, to gently guiding myself back to this beautiful, perfect moment.