by Spencer Johnson, M.D.
I had the opportunity to read “The Present” by Spencer Johnson for a discussion group at work. While I had read his best selling “Who Moved My Cheese” a number of years ago, I looked at the book as being simplistic with not a lot of meat around the message. So when “The Present” was the book being presented, I looked on it with some apprehension and continued to procrastinate on reading the book until two days before the discussion. I have to say, I am pleased that I took the time to read the book and recommend it to others who are looking for some balance in their work and personal life between the Past, Present and Future.
The book focuses around a “young man” who is told by an “old man” that there is a “Present” that when received will make you happier and more successful. The “young man” continues to search for this “Present”, until one day when he realizes that the “Present” is not a thing but something inside of you, an idea. We all have the “Present” and just need to discover it in our own lifestyle. The book takes you through the trials and tribulations of the man’s life continuing to bring him back to the “old man” for wisdom, until he finally understands fully the “Present” and what it means for his own life ambitions.
The “Present” is a pretty simple concept in itself, you need to balance “The Past”, “The Present” and “The Future”. As Johnson puts it, you need to “Learn from the Past”, “Live in the Present” and “Create the Future” with a clear “Purpose” driving the “Response” and putting them all in balance. While that concept is relatively simple, putting it into practice is not. We tend to focus on what could of or should have been, instead of on what is. Johnson shows through the man’s life experiences that it is not always easy, but if you continue to focus on the “Purpose” and that you live in “The Present” you can be more successful and happier in your life.
The book itself is an easy and entertaining 105 pages with plenty of pages calling out the concepts that are being presented in the story. I was able to finish the book in about two hours and that included taking notes and at times re-reading sections to make sure I was getting the full picture that Johnson was presenting.
Sometimes what seems like a simple concept, really is hard to live to and this book does not argue that living in “The Present” is not going to be difficult. Instead it focuses on that it does take time and energy and there will be times that you will fail and have to refocus yourself. I was enlightened by the examples and how it showed that the three phases of life do make a life whole.
So, I encourage anyone who struggles with dwelling in the past or focusing too much on the future to pick this book up and spend a little time reflecting on your own life and the ideas that are presented here. I can tell already that I will be revisiting this a number of times, but I too need to focus more on “The Present” that I have been given already.