“Learn from yesterday, Live for today, Hope for tomorrow.” -Albert Einstein
Living in the present moment is one of the most difficult, yet, most necessary skills for living a contented life. So often we get caught up thinking about the past- either regretting choices we made, or even reminiscing about the “good old days” and wishing life could be simpler or easier as it once was.
Truth is, we cannot go back in time. We cannot change our past actions, or the actions of others. We cannot relive the “good old days” or recreate them. Rather, we can learn from our past to make better and more informed choices in our present, in the NOW. We can learn from the regret that we feel and choose a different course in a current similar situation. We can remember the parts about the good old days that we enjoyed- perhaps spending quality time with family and friends, or even just not having electronics at our fingertips 24/7. The past is important because we can and should LEARN from our past. We can notice patterns and make better choices.
And, for as much as we get caught up in the past, we also get stuck thinking about, planning, or worrying about the future. A time that we don’t have access to at the moment. We worry about events that not only have NOT happened yet, but often times, we worry about events that do NOT happen. We plan for the worst case scenario in our mind. “What if I fall when I walk across the stage?” “What if meatballs fall from the sky?” In the moment, you can determine a course of action. Likely, if you fall, the most logical next step would be to get up. It may be embarrassing, but that emotion does not preclude you from being able to stand. If meatballs fall from the sky, well, I recommend not eating them- who knows where sky meatballs come from! 😛
While at times planing for the future can be prudent and necessary to have a plan for the future (i.e. planning for education, career, family, etc.), it can also be detrimental when it is unnecessary and the only purpose is to alleviate our worries and nerves so that we have a “plan.” It is not helpful to “live” in the future while neglecting the present.
The NOW. This moment. Right here. This very second. Now this one. This is the present. Reading this right here is your now. The present is forever fleeting and constantly changing. However, it is the most important because it is our only chance to act, to DO. To make a choice. To ACT on that choice. To make a CHANGE. A plan is only as good as its implementation. Until you DO, it doesn’t fully exist. It exists only in theory.
In order to make any change in your life, you must be aware of the present and the opportunities available to make the needed changes in your life. It may be an opportunity to react differently to a child, or an opportunity to be proactive at work. Whatever it may be, you must be in the present to notice. It does not help to focused on a past you cannot change, or a future you don’t have access to. Stay in the now. Act in the now.
Dr. Karen Rosian
Licensed Clinical Psychologist