The first is from Josh Waitzkin, whose life the movie Searching for Bobby Fisher was made after. The second is from Mark Manson, a blogger whose writings and whose thoughts, I find, are absolutely spot-on (and more importantly, easy to apply).
From Josh (the picture shows him with a black belt from Marcelo Garcia, one of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s demigods):
The secret is that everything is always on the line. The more present we are at practice, the more present we will be in competition, in the boardroom, at the exam, the operating table, the big stage. If we have any hope of attaining excellence, let alone of showing what we’ve got under pressure, we have to be prepared by a lifestyle of reinforcement. Presence must be like breathing.
And the second, from Mark Manson:
Happiness, like other emotions, is not something you obtain, but rather something you inhabit. When you’re raging pissed and throwing a socket wrench at the neighbor’s kids, you are not self-conscious about your state of anger. You are not thinking to yourself, “Am I finally angry? Am I doing this right?” No, you’re out for blood. You inhabit and live the anger. You are the anger. And then it’s gone.
Just as a confident man doesn’t wonder if he’s confident, a happy man does not wonder if he’s happy. He simply is.
I feel the two are inextricably intertwined; the sort of presence that Josh explains in his book The Art of Learning (the book where the quotation’s from) is that state which he found himself in when he was competing at world chess tournaments, international Tai Chi competitions, and later, at the highest levels of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He found a state of flow, stemming from his ability to be ever-present — something he practices moment by moment.
Presence is this: neither thinking about the past, which has already happened, nor about the future, which has yet to happen — rather, simply immersing yourself in the intricacies of the present moment.
So that which leads to happiness is presence, a skill. Thus, happiness is also a skill.
You simply are happy. It’s not a destination. It’s a state of being that necessitates a skill to be ever-present.
Consider Kasina Meditation. This type of meditation is a form of exerting pure focus onto a disk, red or blue. Supposedly, CAT scans (don’t think linking the studies is worth it for such an informal posts) reveal that those who are well-versed with this sort of meditation are in perennial states of ecstasy.
Thaaa fuck? Ecstasy from simply focusing on a red-friggin’-disk?
So presence=>focus=>a happy state of being.
Food for thought.