Opinion

Thiel: Live your life in the present

It’s estimated that more than 90 per cent of all disease stems from stress and its repercussion on our bodies and minds. We live in a fast-paced culture not only based on immediate gratification, but also the stress of so many choices.

There is a tool that is used, one I learned at a Buddhist monastery while in Tibet, which if used appropriately will reduce your stress enormously.

It’s very simple and its effects are immediate. It goes like this: Now, choice. Now choose.

Simply, it helps us place ourselves in the moment of now and empowers us with the power of choice. Let’s talk about the idea of now.

Existentially and practically, there is and always has been nothing more than now. Expanding on this point, we need to understand that there is no such thing as the future and no such thing as the past. We dwell and always have existed in the now.

You can’t go into the future and come back no more than you can go into the past and come back. There is only now. It’s the only place where we exist. The future and the past are only ideas and not real as we can’t expect them.

One time during meditation in this monastery, the Buddhist master showed me this. He was aware that my mind was not on my meditation, in fact I was not in the now. He approached me, knelt down and asked me simply “Markus, are you here now?” I looked up at him and said, “Yes.” He stood up, as if walking away, walked behind me and smacked me on the back with his bamboo cane.

He entirely changed my state and I had no choice but to be in the now. He knelt in front of me once again and smiling said, “Are you with us now?” Before I could answer he continued: “Young mind, there’s no strength from being elsewhere other than here. To think of things that have been or will be removes your strength and ability to affect your life. It is a delusion to be elsewhere other than now.”

Since then, I look at the past and the future from the present. Think of your now. What do you hear? What do you feel? What do you see? Now you’re now.

The second part of now, choice is choice. We, our health, our relationships, everything in our universe is the sum result of every single choice we have made in our lives up until this point. Everything.

My mom used to say that we are all superheroes because we have the ultimate power, the power to choose. This is a lofty responsibility, one that some people tend to let other people do for them.

Those people are called victims, and they live their life as such. To let someone choose for you is living disingenuously.  We have the power to choose what we eat, what we say, what we believe, what we feel and most importantly what we do and don’t do. I heard a philosopher once said that: “We are human beings not human doings.” To be, is to choose.

To live in resentment towards someone else or blame someone for your state makes about as much sense as letting someone take your accolades for something wonderful that you did. When exercising superhuman power of choice it is important to note that all choices you make should be true to the ideas of betterment, compassion and love—not self-deprecating destructive behaviours. Now, choose.

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