The present is a gift in many ways. Looking backward or forward too much within our daily lives isn’t good for us as humans. We are made for the present, the here and now. The present is a gift because whatever you choose to do today could impact your life. It could be as small as you are going to bed late, causing you to be more tired tomorrow. Or it could be you choose a different career, which could have lasting impacts on your mental and physical health, and overall happiness.
A gift is something given willingly without a payment. In other words, it’s giving someone something without expecting them to give you anything back. In that sense, our circumstances are powerful because we were given them at one point, but we can change them. What our circumstances ultimately become is on us. We can choose to move forward and make do with what we’ve been given, or cling to the past and continue to let it affect our present and future.
You can’t be fully present when thinking about the past or future. We are all guilty of becoming consumed in both. At separate times in my life, I’ve focused too much on the past, and how events that took place helped shape the person I became. The keyword there is helped. Experiences that have taken place in my past might have helped me become the person I am, but it is only part of the equation.
Past, present, and future
What is an equation without a missing piece? It’s incomplete. Just because something happened to you in the past, doesn’t mean it has to persist in the present or future. You have the ability to let go of whatever it is you are holding onto in life that serves no purpose.
Other times, like more recently, I’ve become a victim of worrying too much about the future. Do you know what it does? It takes me away from the moment. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past five years that I hope to carry with me for the rest of my life, it’s that you should always be in the moment. It’s very, very hard. Such an audacious task requires a level of self-discipline not seen in every person. I’ve struggled with living in the moment for years, and at times, I still do. With our forward-thinking society, it’s easy to think about the future and how things will be different for generations to come, etc.
Yet, the part that truly takes you away is when you think about your own future. You know, the one in which you place all of these timeframes and restrictions. “I have to be in my career field by 22.” Or, “I must have a kid before I am 30.” Let me ask you something. Why do people make these types of statements? It’s because of our society and how we’re placed on a timeline from birth, to be completely blunt.
We’re always told you’re born, and you go to school until your 18, you must have your college degree or worked your way up a few positions at a job by 22, get married by 25, have kids shortly after, and live your life accordingly. Who came up with these age outliers? Why do people feel the need to adhere to them so much? Although part of it is because of our societal conditioning, the other part is our perception and willingness to accept these made-up rules as standard, which we can change.
Here and now
You have the power to refute anything someone has ever told you, or willfully accept it as the standard and move forward. But blindly accepting standards without proper investigation is costly. Living in the moment is about more than not thinking of the past or future. It’s not just about thinking of the present but relishing in it. How do you relish it? Oddly enough, you start by acknowledging the past and what it means to you, disregarding useless experiences, and carrying the useful ones with you to handle yourself in the present better.
In the same vein, you should acknowledge what the future could hold, but understand that life does happen, you won’t always have a say in what happens, but you will do your absolute best to set up your future for success, even if it means not always thinking about it. Because when all you do is think about the future, you take yourself away from the exact moment in which you build your future.
Maybe you change your mind on purchasing a house because you are unsure of what lies ahead, like being responsible for any damages. It’s a decision that could have lasting ramifications. If you’re always predicting something will go wrong in the future, you’re letting it affect your current decision making. One of your decisions could be the best one you’ve ever made, but you won’t know if you don’t make it. To be fully present means accepting the past for what it was, embracing and relishing in the present for what it is, and planning for but not fretting for what the future will be.