This may seem harsh, but I think it still needs to be said. The past has passed us by, and the future is more unknown and uncertain than ever before.
What does that mean? It means that all you have is the now.
That’s not a bad thing, however. The most real reality in existence is the present. This moment in time. The here-and-now. Putting your focus on it and into it can make a huge difference in how you experience life, the Universe, and everything.
Because of human nature, we look to the past as well as the future. The past can inform us of where we have been. But for many, it also creates a template for how things should be even after they change.
The future can be fun to speculate about. Further, having goals for things you desire to achieve and places you want to give you direction. But there can be a lot of anxiety about the future and how it will differ from the past.
All too often, the now gets buried between these. So rather than live in and experience the now, people live with dread, anxiety, and depression. While these are perfectly normal feelings to have, you may be surprised how driven by past and future — and a lack of knowing the present — they may be.
The past is behind us
Past experiences have helped you to grow. They can be lessons both good and bad that will inform your life and the choices you make in the now and going forward.
There are two primary problems with viewing and holding onto the past.
· You may not have learned the right lesson from the past and keep repeating it.
· You recall a past nostalgically that never truly existed.
Often these can get combined. Being able to recognize them can inform your present and help you find and maintain balance.
Lessons of the past often get ignored or forgotten. Hence why things get repeated again and again. Some are deeply personal — which is why people date a certain unhealthy type or keep working similar unfulfilling jobs.
The other issue is when you think you learned a lesson from the past — but you learned either the wrong lesson or not the complete lesson. Many lessons, like the story arc or a TV show, include multiple parts and separate episodes.
There are many which are large-scale and harder to individually rectify. Oppression, denying certain human rights, conflict based on religious beliefs, other wide-scale differences of opinion, and so forth. All you, as an individual, can do is to be mindful of these matters and your personal part within them.
The most important takeaway about this topic is being mindful of the past. Specifically, being aware of its influence and control over both where you are now and anywhere you may desire to go. It may adversely impact the now. This is especially true if, rather than working in the here-and-now, you are trying to redirect a past change. Or rather than be in the now and keep moving forward, you seek to undo or redo past thoughts, feelings, and actions.
The future is not yet written
Yoda said it well when he said,
“Always in motion is the future.”
That is truer for pretty much everyone now than it ever has been before. With the COVID-19 situation across the globe, the future has never been more in motion.
When will it be safe to go back to gathering in groups and being social? When will they figure out a cure? How long will it take for doctors and scientists to create a vaccine? What will life look like and how will it differ on the other side of this?
Every single walk of life is going to emerge to a changed world. What will that world look like? Given that reality is an individual illusion of perception — held by every single person on this planet — nobody knows.
And I really mean nobody. Even those with a modicum of power and control to influence the collective consciousness are at a loss this time.
The future is not just in motion, but utterly uncertain and unknown. Because of this, many of the goals and aspirations people have been working towards are on hold. Or postponed. Perhaps delayed. And maybe even totally derailed and destroyed.
That is a scary notion for most. It’s a cause of unspeakable anxiety because its so mysterious and hazy. Too many variables and unknowns.
Is it any wonder the overall level of depression and anxiety right now is elevated?
Because the future is even more unpredictable than usual, the now can get your attention. Keeping your thoughts, feelings, and actions in the present will help you be mindful and aware of yourself. Perhaps more aware than you have been before.
That, in turn, can help you see with great clarity who you are versus who you might desire to be.
The benefits of living in the now
Lao Tzu put this rather succinctly,
“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
Because society tends to get caught up in thinking back on past happenings and forward on future possibilities, people lose sight of themselves. Rather than work on who you are right here and now, you try to change the unchangeable past and become other for the unwritten future.
That’s not to say that learning from the past and having plans for the future are a bad idea. It’s not, both are important to living your life to its fullest. But dwelling on, focusing on, and living in and for past and future denies you the now and experiencing some rather amazing things.
The hustle and bustle of the world tend to deny individualism in favor of collective consciousness. Social distancing, however, forces us to be more individualized. Rather than this being the worst thing ever or otherwise distressing, it could be an opportunity.
If your life has not been where or how you have desired it to be, why not? What can you do differently here-and-now to influence, direct, and control change? How can mindfulness of your thoughts, feelings, and actions work in your favor and better your life?
Only you can answer those questions. But asking them in the now and being consciously present in the moment opens you to real, genuine, and potentially useful answers.
Some will see where the world is now as a curse. But what if, instead, it’s a gift? What if this is a much-needed global opportunity to better the whole world by improving ourselves?
There is no single answer
My life is not the same as your life. Who I am is not who you are. That is a universal truism. We are individuals and unique as such.
Each of us is weathering the same storm in our own boats. The vessels we navigate these waters in range in size from barrels to aircraft carriers. Some people face it all utterly alone while others may be with their large families quarantined together. Whatever the case may be, we ARE all in this together.
Each of us has our own options, choices, and approaches to life in the here-and-now. The answers, as such, are as variable and different as each of us.
Do not be afraid of what you will find in your consciousness. Why? Because if you do not like what is there it is yours to influence, alter, or change. You are empowered to be the best you that you can be. Even in the face of an uncertain future — here-and-now, in the present, you have potential and possibility.
There are going to be bad days for everyone. You can’t avoid feeling sad, depressed, angry, lonely, even hopeless, or any other negative emotion. But you CAN choose how long to allow those negatives to dominate your mindset and headspace.
Living in the now is the best way to cope with lives that have been derailed from a given path and facing a dubious future. Now is real, present, and yours to control.
I believe if more people focus on the present, it opens us to potential and possibility to come out on the other side of this to a better world. How? By using the now to better ourselves via our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you and I matter, as does what we do to live in the now.