Gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is true prosperity.

Are you a habitual “waiter”? How much of your life do you spend waiting? What I call “small-scale waiting” is waiting in line at the post office, in a traffic jam, at the airport, or waiting for someone to arrive, to finish work, and so on. “Large-scale waiting” is waiting for the next vacation, for a better job, for the children to grow up, for a truly meaningful relationship, for success, to make money, to be important, to become enlightened. It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.

Waiting is a state of mind. Basically, it means that you want the future; you don’t want the present. You don’t want what you’ve got, and you want what you haven’t got. With every kind of waiting, you unconsciously create inner conflict between your here and now, where you don’t want to be, and the projected future, where you want to be. This greatly reduces the quality of your life by making you lose the present.

There is nothing wrong with striving to improve your life situation. You can improve your life situation, but you cannot improve your life. Life is primary. Life is your deepest inner Being. It is already whole, complete, perfect. Your life situation consists of your circumstances and your experiences. There is nothing wrong with setting goals and striving to achieve things. The mistake lies in using it as a substitute for the feeling of life, for Being. The only point of access for that is the Now. You are then like an architect who pays no attention to the foundation of a building but spends a lot of time working on the superstructure.

When you catch yourself slipping into waiting . . . snap out of it. Come into the present moment. Just be, and enjoy being.

For example, many people are waiting for prosperity. It cannot come in the future. When you honor, acknowledge, and fully accept your present reality — where you are, who you are, what you are doing right now — when you fully accept what you have got, you are grateful for what you have got, grateful for what is, grateful for Being. Gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is true prosperity. It cannot come in the future. Then, in time, that prosperity manifests for you in various ways.

If you are dissatisfied with what you have got, or even frustrated or angry about your present lack, that may motivate you to become rich, but even if you do make millions, you will continue to experience the inner condition of lack, and deep down you will continue to feel unfulfilled. You may have many exciting experiences that money can buy, but they will come and go and always leave you with an empty feeling and the need for further physical or psychological gratification. You won’t abide in Being and so feel the fullness of life now that alone is true prosperity.

So give up waiting as a state of mind. When you catch yourself slipping into waiting . . . snap out of it. Come into the present moment. Just be, and enjoy being. If you are present, there is never any need for you to wait for anything. So next time somebody says, “Sorry to have kept you waiting,” you can reply, “That’s all right, I wasn’t waiting. I was just standing here enjoying myself — in joy in my self.”


Excerpted from the book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (New World Library, 2010). Copyright © 1999 by Eckhart Tolle


Practice:

Throughout the day, gently carry the intention to appreciate any moments of waiting–whether in line at the store, at a red light, on the phone, or even waiting for your computer to load–that befall you. Try to refrain from “occupying” yourself during this time. Open up to simply taking in your surroundings with a sense of awe for all of the life buzzing about therein. When you find yourself embracing the gifts of waiting, say, “Thank you.” Observe how saying this makes you feel, noticing any sensations or emotions that arise. 

How does appreciating moments of waiting impact you?

What can you learn, love, and savor through waiting?