“No matter where you go, there you are.”

Your life, as it is at the moment, involves you being where you are right now, at any one moment. You may have aspirations to go somewhere else, but until you’re there, you’re going to be here, or somewhere in between. You can’t usually change that on a whim, things don’t usually happen that quickly, so chances are you’re going to be where you are for a while. That might be terrible news.

But here’s the secret. If you wait until you are there to be happy or content with yourself and your life, the risk is that you never will be. You could be holding on to this ideal future when you go off to somewhere wonderful and everything is perfect, and you might not get there, or it could take a lot longer than you hoped. In that case, you’ll be miserable that whole time.

Instead, wherever you are, notice it. Look around you, and feel the feelings you have about it, good or bad. Find something good about where you are every day and it won’t seem so bad. The aim is to get as much of the goodness from what you have as possible, so that if you leave, then fine, but until then you will do OK.

A lot of the time when we mentally check out of somewhere – whether that’s something small like a meeting or as big as the city you are living in – it adversely affects your experience of it. On some level you figure there’s no point in engaging with it, because your heart is somewhere else. That’s fine – but it does mean that you are going to miss out on anything good that might happen. You just won’t see it. You’ll stop interacting with people in the same way and find yourself increasingly excluded from what’s going on.

Maybe your ‘here’ isn’t so much about the physical place as some other factor, like your job, your status, or something. The same things apply. You’ll find if you engage as much as you can that you get more out of it.

And if you’re happy with where you are? That’s great. The same advice still applies. Pay attention to where you are so that you don’t start taking it for granted.

This goes for every area of life, actually. Have we talked about being present already? When you’re with a person, be there, not mentally elsewhere. When you’re doing an activity of some kind, be in it, not trying to also listen to music, watch TV and look at your phone at the same time.

Without some work, you can’t change where you are. But you can at least change how you feel about where you are. And if it’s time to be somewhere else, then you can go – but either way at least you’ll know that you did what you could where you were. Otherwise the danger is that you’d go elsewhere and bring all your baggage with you, and feel the same about it. If you know you can be at least content and grateful about things wherever you are, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress.