What ‘should’ you be doing, feeling, thinking of achieving right now?

The short answer is nothing.

The more realistic, longer answer is that your mind is probably awash with ‘shoulds’. You may feel like you ‘should’ be further along in your thesis, or you ‘should’ be more esteemed, richer, more loved, or a myriad other things that we convince ourselves we need for a full and complete life.

Let’s take the PhD journey as an example. You may feel like you should have a better study, or better data, or that you should be as successful as your non-PhD friends. You should be writing, you should be procrastinating less, you should be better. Should, should, should….

We can become attached to what we should be doing. So much so that we are never satisfied. If we fixate on the should, we’re never happy with what we have.

That’s because this notion of what we should be doing, thinking, feeling, and so on, is an illusion. Everyone’s sense of should differs, as it is a product of their internal wiring, upbringing, life experience and environment. Put somewhat simply, depending on where and how you grew up, you will have a particular brand of should. Come from a family of highly successful professionals? You probably feel like you should be more successful yourself. Went to a school of high achievers? You probably feel like you should be making more money. And so on…

By becoming attached to this notion of ‘should’, we limit our ability to enjoy what’s happening right now. Practice letting go of this attachment. This is hard, and something that requires practice, but it essentially revolves around the idea of noticing when your mind is convincing you of what you should be doing or feeling and focusing the mind instead on the present moment, on your current reality.

The more you do this, the more you’ll realise that you’re attached to illusions about an imaginary future and the more you’ll start to realise all the wonderful, beautiful things you’ve got going on right now.

Good luck.