How much time do you spend thinking about things that have already happened or worrying about the future? The irony is that we can’t change the past, and unless you have a crystal ball, it’s impossible to know the future. Our power lies in the present moment and how we use it.
That’s not to say that we should forget about the past completely. After all, as the old saying goes, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Most of us dwell on past mistakes or experiences from an emotional place and end up feeling angry, sad, guilty, resentful, etc, all over again. A far more productive way to work with it is to ask ourselves what we’ve learned from those experiences. What could we do differently next time round?
Another useful way to use the past is to think of the happy times, and allow those positive emotions to make us feel good again. Then try to figure out what exactly made that time so happy, and aim to do more of that now.
Getting anxious about the future is totally counterproductive. It just makes us feel bad right now and most of what we’re afraid of will never happen. If you’re making plans for the future, it’s worth considering a few different scenarios, but don’t stop there – put a strategy in place to deal with each one so you can stop worrying about it.
Then put your energy into imagining what the most positive future would look like. This puts you into a good space right now and maximises your chances of achieving that best case scenario in the future.
So we’ve established that we can use the present moment to learn from the past, plan for the future, uplift ourselves by remembering happy times, and help bend reality towards the future we most desire.
We can also use it to pay attention to what’s going on in our lives right now. Notice the beautiful flower growing in a crack in the pavement, feel the sun on your face, enjoy the scent of coffee as you pass a coffee shop, savour the taste of your food, delight in someone else’s laughter, smile at a stranger and appreciate the beauty and miracle of life.