All that happens is here and now. If we are elsewhere, we are in fact missing out.
Or, as John Lennon put it:
Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.
We are told this a lot. But how do we come into the here and now? And, perhaps more to the point, how do we stay here and now?!
We have to pay attention. The best and perhaps easiest way to do this is to pay attention to the people around us. There are always people around us, including animals. Cherish them. Buddhists are aiming to love everyone, but we start with those right under our noses, thinking: “This person is important. This person’s happiness matters.”
As we develop this skill, our life develops an extraordinary richness and happiness.
As my Buddhist Teacher Geshe Kelsang says in The New Eight Steps to Happiness:
Whenever we are with other people we should be continuously mindful that their happiness and wishes are at least as important as our own. Of course, we cannot cherish all living beings right away, but by training our mind in this attitude, beginning with our family and friends, we can gradually extend the scope of our love until it embraces all living beings. When in this way we sincerely cherish all living beings, we are no longer an ordinary person but have become a great being, like a Bodhisattva.