Being Present

One of the few points of agreement between just about any religion or life philosophy is the fundamental importance of ‘being present’. “Live in the moment!” they all espouse. However, what exactly does that mean. A conclusive answer to this question is well beyond the scope of this Coby’s Thought Blog post. However, we can begin to think about being present by conceptualizing it as a state of mind. ‘Present’ can be thought of as being more pleasant that ‘non-present’; however, this is not necessarily true. Present refers to the subject of our mental state, not the quality. Rather, a subcategory exists among both present and non-present states of mind to describe the quality: positive and negative. This leaves us with at least four categories that could describe our state of mind at any given time:

  1. Present Positive
  2. Present Negative
  3. Non-Present Positive
  4. Non-Present Negative


  1. Present Positive: subject, contents and sensations of the present moment; quality, good

Example: Focusing on a delicious pear you are eating and enjoying it

  1. Present Negative: subject, contents and sensations of the present moment; quality, bad

Subject of our thoughts is the present moment and is accompanied by negative emotions.

Example: Having your leg cut off, thinking about that, and having a terrible time.

  1. Non-Present Positive: subject, the past or future; quality, good

Example: Reminiscing on how great high school was

  1. Non-Present Negative: subject, the past or future; quality, bad

Example: Worrying about a dumb thing you said the day before

One could make a very compelling argument for the overall superiority of present positive mental activity. Who wouldn’t want to be constantly stoked about what is happening? It is not an easy task to control the subject of our thoughts or the accompanying emotions. It is often futile to will away a thought or feel a certain way about something. However, it is possible with adequate mental discipline. Assuming we have discovered the ideal mental state capable of optimizing our overall well being, I believe it is in our best interest to take steps to maximize our time in the ideal state of mind. *Easier said than done*


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