How to live in the present and not dwell in the past or uncertain future.
by Tales of 2Timothy1.7
Recently I had a conversation with this wonderful woman, when we were talking she told me that she has been learning to live more in the present and no longer dwell in the past as she used to. As I was listening to her describing this characteristic of herself I realised that I was just like that. One who spends the majority of her time living with the regrets of the past or the fear of an uncertain future. How is this possible you are probably asking yourself? Well, let me explain this in a way that will give you an insight into something that can improve the quality of your life.
Before I carry on I need to define the areas in which we are working on.
Living in the past means reminiscing about something that no longer exists. This can be thinking about a good thing that took place a long time ago and you are having difficulties letting this go and so you spend a great amount of your time rethinking that moment of your life. That element can be something good, in which case it’s absolutely fine to recall that memory from time to time as long as you don’t dwell in it. By dwelling in it I mean, spending more time thinking about the past than you do enjoying the present time. Even though you can be thinking about something positive, being too focused on the past can restrain you from advancing in your life. But the problem occurs more when you dwell in a negative past. Telling yourself if only I had taken this or that decision this would be different. Although this might be completely true; because your life is a result of your actions, living in a negative past will not only prevent you from enjoying your present life but also from making better decisions that will benefit you in the future.
Living in the future means that you are focussing on that which will come or that which might not come that you don’t enjoy your present life and let life pass you by. This can be for example when you are expecting something that will come in a few months or in a few years and instead of enjoying your life meanwhile you’re so focused on that event that you don’t fully appreciate the things that are in front of you and aren’t able to fully enjoy the present moment because your thoughts are constantly in what shall come. The bad thing about this is that we sometimes focus so much on something that we believe will come in the future, but that very thing may never come or may never take place in which case we’ve been wasting our time all along. Let me give you an example to explain this: First example: Let’s say you are in a relationship, you’ve been together for quiete some time but you haven’t been able to enjoy the time you spend with your partner because all this time you’ve been focussing on the fact that your partner might be unfaithful to you. Of course this might be true and if so, it would be a sad thing to have to deal with. But you could deal with that problem when it occurs instead of spending the entire time of your relationship worrying on what if. When you have someone who seems genuinely interested in you, spending your time worrying on something that isn’t there will get you waste beautiful valuable moments and may even damage your relationship. Of course living in an uncertain future doesn’t only apply in relationships but also in other aspects of life, in your job, in your family life in your health and so on.
So now that we’ve established what you shouldn’t do, let’s see what you should do instead.
Living in the present time is a choice. As simple as it may sound, it is something that many people never really master. There are numerous books written about how to live in the present time this because many have realised that not doing so will let you waste many years of your life. First of all you have to know that it is not a default. Everyone go through some moments in life where they dwell a little more in the future or more in the past. But acknowledging this and taking the right steps to avoid it will bring you more joy and fulfilment in your life.
What you can do to live in the present time:
Acknowledge your thoughts: First of all as you now know what living in the past or in the future means, you can easily detect yourself when your thoughts start to go that way. When you are not thinking about the current moment, about what you are doing now or about who you are with at this moment but instead are dwelling in some other tense then you know you should do something about.
Take action: Once you’ve noticed that you’ve been thinking more about everything else but the now, just stop those thoughts and ask yourself: What are you doing right now; who are you with, and what are the positive things about the moment you are in? Not the moment you will be in a few weeks, months or years. Not how it used to be when this or this was there but the now. What are the great advantage of your current life? In the beginning this might seem tricky and you might not find anything positive to say about your life now. But with practice comes mastering and so by acknowledging when you dwell in other times and taking the right actions to get back in your present time you will start to see that your current life has many great things to offer if you only took the time to see it and enjoy it.
See the result: As you practice this deliberate choice of living more in the present you will start to see the great things that you’ve been missing on while you were dwelling your thoughts in the past or future tense. You’ll start to do more, achieve more and even be more cause you are more aware of the now. Although we can never change the past, by living more in the present you will notice that your future will improve as you are more aware of your choices as you take those choices in a more current state not because of what happened in the past but because of who you are right now.
Eventually all these little efforts, which might seem insignificant in the beginning will eventually improve the quality of your life and therefore bring you more happiness.