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How Tactical Chess Grandmasters Are the Embodiment of ‘Living in the Moment’

Updated on November 24, 2019
Delores Keeper profile image

Delores Keeper has been playing chess for over 50 years. In that time she has learned a lot of real-life lessons from the game.

Chess grandmasters are known to read the events on the board and react to the new challenges in each turn. This way, the player takes a tactical stance of dwelling on the dynamics of the game and responding to them rather than only thinking ahead of the opponent. Seeing how the game develops and responding to these changes accordingly has a lot in common with the Buddhism concept of ‘Living in the Moment’.

By being tactical you:

Stop worrying about your next move and your future

A tactical grandmaster simply responds to what is happening on the board at a specific time. Likewise, the concept of living in the moment encourages individuals not to dwell on the past or worry about the future but rather focus on the current state of their lives. Tomorrow will happen after all, whether you worry too much about it or not. Worry itself has never helped anyone to achieve anything other than draining their mental energy. “Be right here right now”, or so a life coach would say.

Conquer addictions

Tactical grandmasters never develop habits that might tie them to a list of predetermined strategies that they must apply in every game. Very much the same, living in the moment encourages individuals to avoid getting addicted to any specific routine in their lives. When a routine is removed abruptly or fails to work, the individual addicted to that routine ends up distraught.

Don’t adopt old solutions to new problems

Tactical grandmasters don’t use old strategies for every new opponent they meet, no matter how successful those strategies were. The same thing can apply to life. For you to live in the moment and lead a happy life, you need to view new challenges as being unique. Responding to a new challenge ‘as is’ without revisiting old solutions is actually a great way of shunning your past, and that’s highly beneficial for your mental well being.

Improve your performance by not overthinking it

Very much the same way a tactical chess grandmaster improves their performance by simply addressing the challenge at hand without necessarily overthinking about their next move, you can live in the moment by being easy on yourself and addressing life as it unfolds.

Design the future by concentrating on the present

This might look paradoxical but concentrating on the present actually makes your future better. Tactical chess grandmasters don’t concentrate on the outcome but rather on the moves their opponents are making on the board at the moment. Likewise, concentrating your efforts on current events is better than worrying about what could happen tomorrow. So, instead of thinking how the future might turn out to be – which is actually a waste of good time – you can make the future better by living the moment and doing what you need to do according to the demands of today.

Pay attention to small things

The same way a chess grandmaster pays close attention to the opponent's moves on the board so that they respond to them appropriately in real-time, you can really live in the moment by paying attention to smaller things that that happen in your life. Sometimes we overlook minor things in our lives in pursuit of happiness forgetting that those small details that cultivate positive experience. Slurp some ice cream, blow bubbles, listen to nice music, and watch these small details improve the quality of your life drastically.

Accept the past mistakes, refuse the future

Chess grandmasters don't let the last mistake they made dominate their minds and affect how they respond to the moves made by their opponents on the board. You can do the same in your attempt to live in the moment; accept your past failures and mistakes and don’t let them affect your current quality of life. Accept the fact that the future hasn’t happened yet and so should not be where you live.

Bottom line

Grandmasters who take the tactical approach rather than trying to foresee the millions of possible moves on the board can be models for anyone who wants to live in the moment. By living in the moment of each game, a grandmaster can see how the game will progress without having to computer every possible outcome. We should all be grandmasters of our lives by existing where we are now. Be aware of the future, but don’t live there.


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