Lao Tzu said it best:
“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”
I really think there is truth in that. Maybe the order is different to you, maybe the future depresses you and the past causes resentment or bitterness. Either way, living in a time that is not ‘now’ causes you to miss out on being present and it just doesn’t make sense. The present is there for us to be ‘present in’.
Anxiety, stress and worry and all forms of fear and are caused by living too much in the future. Living too much in the past causes quilt, regret, resentment and bitterness and all forms of un-forgiveness. As you can see most of this negativity is an accumulation of too much “time traveling”. A state of consciousness free of all negativity is possible, that is the liberated state of being present in the now.
If something makes you sick, stop eating it! In the same way, why create internal sickness for yourself by choosing the thoughts that make you sick?
I read a book on neuroscience that just made me realize once again how our thoughts and feelings have a tremendous effect on our states; physical and mental. Not only that but our thoughts and feelings are often not a true reflection of reality. We react and reflect on our experience of the world and not to the world itself. If you think too much, it is probably either about the past or the future. It may have been an unsettling conversation, that proposal you still need to prepare or that task you still need to take care of. But most of the time it is of something that either happened or still needs to happen, not what is currently happening. So in the present moment we often are reacting to thoughts and feelings of the past or future and in doing so we miss out on the experience of now. How bizarre is that?
Sure there are times when you don’t want to be “present”. Like when you are going for a dental check-up, waiting in a line at the supermarket or when you’re at the airport in the departures lounge waiting for your delayed plane to arrive. Then you need the downtime and let you mind run. So there are times when you don’t have to be present. Neuroscientists call this “up time” and “down time”. But if you are not present in what you do day-to-day, if you are not engaged and find yourself living in the past or future, then you are being robbed of the most valuable and irreplaceable commodity – time.
The past is a construct of the mind. It is a representation of things that we let into our nervous system through the filters of our senses. Those bits of information that fit our view of the world, that which reinforces what we believe to be true. The future can be anything. Unless we view it through the eyes of our past; then it is limited and tainted by our filters like fears, expectations, experiences, beliefs and memories.
Are your goals taking up so much attention that you reduce the present to a “means to an end”? Are you taking the joy out of doing? Are you waiting to start living? If you live like this; the present will never be good enough and the future will always look better. This is the perfect recipe for permanent dissatisfaction.
The heart wants to live in the present because now is where and when I am.
Realize the power of now
About the author: Reinhard Korb is a thought leader in the application of nutrition, exercise, neuroscience and mindfulness. Optimizing health, wellness and performance in his clients. As the founder of Thrive he has facilitated and helped various organisations and individuals actualize their potential and achieve peak performance states. He is a certified Fitness & Nutrition Coach, Meta Coach, Neuro Coach, Stress Management Coach and Wellness Coach