What, if it happened in the future, would transform your life? What, if it had happened in the past, would have transformed your life?

Psychology tells us there’s a good chance that neither of these events would change your feelings significantly. You would feel more or less as you do now.

That’s why it makes so much sense to appreciate the present moment, which means you need to be mindful, and to be kind to yourself instead of putting all your happiness on hold or seeing your happiness as having gone down the tubes at some time in the past. That combination of mindfulness and self-compassion is the subject of my book Kindfulness.

Sometimes terrible or wonderful things happen that really are transformative (the loss of one’s home, work and country is an example and it happens to too many people in today’s world) but most of the bad/good things that happen to us don’t fall into this category.

Even winning the lottery normally leaves people feeling much the same a year later as they did a year before. And if you look back over your life I am sure you can identify experiences that seemed transformative at the time but were not. Maybe you didn’t get to hitch up with the love of your life but you realise now that if you had you might have ended up in a a divorce!

All of this means that if you’re beating yourself up over something you missed out on in the past you might be doing so over something that actually might not have mattered a lot. As for the future, ambitions and plans are great energisers but never forget to give attention to the present and to treat yourself as well as you can in the here and now. The here and now is what you know you’ve got and if you can improve the here and now by your attitude in this moment, you’ve really got something.

Kindfulness – be a true friend to yourself with mindful self-compassion, is published by Yellow Kite Books.

Related: A better moment? Could this be it?