Last week I wrote about radically embracing life in the present moment. Today I want to emphasize that this is not the same as living for the moment without regard for long-term consequences.
This might be hard for some to understand, because most people see self-discipline as the eschewal of current pleasures. With willpower, they assume, one sacrifices short-term pleasure for the sake of a bigger pleasure in the future. So they feed their dreams and hopes with the idea of delayed gratification while disregarding the reality of the present moment—often, alas, with meager consistency to little avail.
If you focused instead on your acts of will as they offer themselves at any moment, rather than on your hopes and dreams, you would be more effective. You would even see that current pleasures need not be sacrificed for future pleasures. Exerting willpower immediately puts you in a state of freedom, which is itself a form of pleasure, so that you are not forgoing present pleasure, but substituting it by another type that is much more consistent.
Granted, the pleasure of doing your will may be less intense and more subtle than the gratification you are deferring, but you can train yourself to experience it more strongly. And while hopes and dreams form an emotional desire that pulls your mind into the future, the power of your will, though structured by goals and values, need not distract you from the present reality.
Thus, living in the present moment does not undermine self-discipline through subjugation to short-term pleasure, for it can involve a shift in pleasure that accompanies willpower. Doing what you truly want is gratifying in itself.