I just love this article by David Cain at Raptitude.com. It does a great job explaining what mindfulness and living in the present really are and how they can improve your life by giving us greater freedom to live the life we want. David starts by describing how we live in a sea of experiences that range from very appealing, like winning the lottery, to very unappealing, like getting audited. Here's an image he uses to visualize that existence:
The article goes on to describe that many of us live by clinging to the appealing experiences and avoiding the unappealing ones. This lifestyle leads to a great deal of suffering - afraid of the negative experiences and dreading the end of the positive ones. It also leads to missed opportunities as we avoid those unappealing experiences, such as missing out on a trip to Europe because we are afraid of being away from home or of flying. In a similar vein, this lifestyle can lead us down a bit of a dead end - by always following the path of least resistance, always avoiding unappealing experiences we can find ourselves in a place with very few appealing ones left.
However, as David points out in his article, there is another way to live. By practicing mindfulness and by practicing living in the present, we become aware of where those green and white areas are in our lives, which situations are we dreading and which ones are we clinging to. Living this way also makes those unappealing situations a bit less unpleasant and allows us to begin to purposefully take on those unappealing experiences in order to unlock far more pleasant ones.
This article is a great read by David Cain at Raptitude.com. I urge you to take a look. I know it reminded me why I practice mindfulness.