Everyone loves a present…But the biggest gift is being able to stay in the present…
Life is funny at times.
We can spend our whole lives wishing for things in the future. We are programmed as children to ‘wish’ for a particular gift at Christmas. To wish about someday going to that dream holiday destination or to dream about being ‘swept off our feet’ by a knight in shining armour.
I sometimes think, if we are always thinking about what we don’t have, can we really enjoy what we do have?
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE being a visionary. I am a highly creative person who is always thinking up future situations and plans in my mind and having a dream is a HIGHLY important part of goal setting and planning and ultimately achiving more in life.
You need to know where you want to get to and then be able to set out a plan to get it. I call this ‘Beginning with the end in mind’ with my clients (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — Steven Covey). We know dreams and goals require pro-active action, focus and structure to make them reality.
But that is a different story altogether.
The problem I am discussing here is very different to that. (I can talk about goal setting and creating vision all day long!)
The problem that I unfortunately see is when we are always looking to the future, almost lusting over a better life, without taking any action, without structure, planning or rational thinking. We let it play on us so much and we become reactive and negative.
We lose touch with the present.
We don’t even know we are doing it sometimes. I can’t sit here and write that I don’t do it. Because I do.
It is a form of anxitey. Feeling anxious because someone else has something that you don't. You compare yourself, then you get consumed by it, wonder what you have done to not deserve what they have and you just feel negatively about your own lack of what you do have. (and you forget about what you actually do have!)
Social (or un-social more like) media has us comparing ourselves to everyone around us. We see other people about to have babies, and we start thinking why we haven't got that life. Even if we have a wife we love and are trying for a baby, we get consumed and catastrophise the situation and worry about if we can’t have a baby and what a faliure we would then be, rather than just staying in the present on working on the mission at hand.
We see others on holiday and we wonder why we are not and then start resenting what we are doing right then in time. This makes us then feel rubbish for no real reason at all.
Silly isn't it??
We know it’s silly, but we do it anyway.
We also look to the past way too much. Something I always catch myself doing is worrying and catastrophising why someone hasn't messaged me back yet… (again, silly I know in principle) But, it’s just how our brains work a lot of the time nowadays… At no fault of our own.
I worry about what I have done to ‘upset’ that person. To not ‘deserve’ a reply. I replay the last conversations I had with that person and play over in my mind what I could have said or done differently to have ‘earned’ my reply.
We often replay different situations like that in our mind time and time again in an aim to justify or give reason. But we often go round and round in circles.
It consumes our thoughts and wastes our time in the PRESENT.
It doesn't suprise me that this sort of anxiety is more common nowadays than ever before. We live in a digital age where we can easily find we are constantly comparing ourselves to others, looking at what they have and wonder why we do not have those things in our future. We also look at how we reacted to situations in past and then let that consume us too.
So, my challenge for us all is to stay in the present. The present is where action CAN happen. Not the past or aimlessly wishing for a different future.
Does it really matter if someone is in going to Ibiza or they are driving a nice car and you are not??
Does it really matter if someone hasn't messaged you back yet?
Does coming up with a million ways something might go wrong help you in making that something go right?
If you weren't in that pattern of past & future, how much differently would you feel now in the present?
Do YOU. Be YOU. And be YOU in the present.
Easier said than done I know, but if we don’t work on ourselves to stay in the present more won’t we just stay on the same hamster wheel going round in circles?
Change won’t just happen.