The past is gone, and the future is yet to come. The present is where we live. However, many linger in the glory of the past, or chase after the mirage of a brighter future. They endure another difficult today, hoping for a different someday. This is the biggest irony of life that keeps people away from being happy. But, Carpe Diem! By appreciating the best "present" given to us from the moment of birth, we become closer to savoring the essence of life.
Every moment of our lives contributes to our making. There exists not a single moment that we could deny a piece of our lives. The sum of experiences creates a unique individual; no two people live in an identical present. The notion of time is shared but people are drawn on a separate grid in a higher dimension above the timeline. However, people have become short-sighted. All that they look for are the results. The present has become degraded into a tool for a better future, and its values are sacrificed for the happily-ever-after that (they hope) will come some time later.
I see this too often. Especially, I rue the loss of many young Koreans’ youth. It isn’t the mandatory military service of 21 months that I pity. The attitude with which many spend these 21 months, that is the cause of my distress. Our twenties are the golden era of our lives because we build foundations and set directions that will design the remainder of our adulthood. Yet, most soldiers are blinded by the day of discharge. They waste their days simply yearning for the service to be over. As a result, precious time of so many young adults is butchered in front of computers and televisions. They achieve little or no growth after this chapter of their lives. The blame is on the environment and their laziness is justified by conformity. With such attitudes, would life after service be any better? More distractions, more competition, more responsibilities… While the army has its restrictions and difficulties, life outside the army is also full of its own complications. Those who don’t live in the present will never be able to live in satisfaction. Yet, the idleness of soldiers has become a trend- a national-scale loss that must come to a stop.
Understanding the importance of process alters the perception of the present. I would like to use Aristotle’s concept of eudaimonia to support this claim. Eudaimonia is a Greek term meaning "happiness" or "well-being". Essentially, it is contentment derived from the ambitious process of realizing one’s potential (self-realization). This is the ultimate source of happiness that enriches human life. Instead of relying on certain results to bring subjective happiness defined by superficial standards, one should set happiness, or living a "good life", as an objective goal. Each step that we take in the present can contribute to this end.
The past and the future are critical factors in the process of attaining eudaimonia. They have opposite traits that contribute to our present. The past is unchangeable and absolute. The future is elastic and imaginable. Lessons are learned from experiences of the past and directions are determined by the desired future. By constantly keeping our hindsight and outlook in mind while concentrating on the present, the path towards eudaimonia becomes natural. Balance is the key factor in this overall vision. To keep this balance, I recommend asking these three questions to yourself: What should I continue doing? What should I stop doing? What should I start doing? These simple questions will act as a guide to keeping track of one's progress to happiness.
If we start living the moment then every second in our lives will be meaningful. Joy will be multiplied as the process (self-development) becomes as exhilarating as the result (well-being). I am sure that the increase in connoisseurs of life will make the world much more fulfilling. Now is how you feel, now is what you know, and now is when to act.