Some of us tend to live in the future, very goal oriented and driven.
- This can help you create a vision, pave a path, but it can completely consume you.
Some of us tend to live in the past, thinking about the past are known as rumination and introspection.
- Introspection means thinking about the things that happen to you with an attitude of curiosity and self-exploration. Introspection can lead you to learning more about yourself. This gives you better information about how you've changed over time and why you do what you do. It can also be really valuable to increase your problem solving skills. Not only do you know more about yourself, but the calm reflection brought on by introspection helps you work through your problems.
- On the other hand, when we think about the past in terms of the regrets we have, we are ruminating. At those times, where we think about the past and we wonder what we might have done differently, or we wonder about the actions of others, we are essentially spinning our wheels. In doing this, we don't draw anything from the past but continue to sink our present moment into our regrets.There is little pleasure or insight to be gained from rumination; on the contrary, it's more associated with anxiety and depression. Rather than being a way out of problems, it's often a way to replay our failures and torture ourselves. Little good comes from rumination.
Some of us tend to live in in the moment.
But please keep in mind, living in the moment is not an excuse to be impulsive and reckless.
Living predominantly in the past, future or present can have some negative consequences. However, more often then not, we tend to spend more time in the past and in the future, forgetting how to EFFECTIVELY live in the present.
How do I stop worrying about the future and dwelling over the past, and EFFECTIVELY live in the moment you ask?!
Savor. Flow. Accept and Breathe!
- To avoid worrying about the future, focus on the present (savoring).
Often, we're so trapped in thoughts of the future or the past that we forget to experience, let alone enjoy, what's happening right now. Trust in the process of time, you're meant to be available right now. Be deliberate and intentional about what you do. If you're driving, drive with intent...look around notice what you're touching, the smells, the sights... The flip side of worrying is ruminating, thinking bleakly about events in the past. And again, if you press your focus into the now, rumination ceases. Savoring forces you into the present, so you can't worry about things that aren't there.
- To make the most of time, lose track of it (flow).
Flow occurs when you're so engrossed in a task that you lose track of everything else around you. Flow embodies an apparent paradox: How can you be living in the moment if you're not even aware of the moment? Flow is an elusive state. As with romance or sleep, you can't just will yourself into it—all you can do is set the stage, creating the optimal conditions for it to occur. The first requirement for flow is to set a goal that's challenging but not unattainable. The task should be matched to your ability level—not so difficult that you'll feel stressed, but not so easy that you'll get bored. In flow, you're firing on all cylinders to rise to a challenge.
- If something is bothering you, it's an message from the past, move toward it rather than away from it (acceptance).
We forget pain is an emotion, just as happiness is and will occur just as frequently. The mind's natural tendency when faced with pain is to attempt to avoid it—by trying to resist unpleasant thoughts, feelings, and sensations. But in many cases, negative feelings and situations can't be avoided—and resisting them only magnifies the pain. Acceptance of an unpleasant state doesn't mean you don't have goals for the future. It just means you accept that certain things are beyond your control. The sadness, stress, pain, or anger is there whether you like it or not. Better to embrace the feeling as it is, see what you learned from it, and choose to forgive and release it.
- You don't always have to be doing something, just sit there (breathe).
Mindfulness is the only intentional, systematic activity that is not about trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, it is simply a matter of realizing where you already are. You can become mindful at any moment just by paying attention to your immediate experience. You can do it right now. What's happening this instant? Here's the most fundamental paradox of all: Mindfulness isn't a goal, because goals are about the future, but you do have to set the intention of paying attention to what's happening at the present moment. As you read the words printed on this page, as your eyes distinguish the black squiggles on white paper, as you feel gravity anchoring you to the planet, wake up. Become aware of being alive. And breathe. As you draw your next breath, focus on the rise of your abdomen on the in-breath, the stream of heat through your nostrils on the out-breath. If you're aware of that feeling right now, as you're reading this, you're living in the moment. Nothing happens next. It's not a destination. This is it. You're already there...