As summer approaches and we plan some time off with our family and friends, I’m reminded of the importance of living in the now and savoring every moment. Many of us get so caught up in the stress and busyness of life that we neglect to reflect and consider the joy of today. We have to be still long enough to appreciate what we have and our surroundings. In my work, patients are often stuck in the past and can’t let it go, or obsessed with the future. The precious present of today is the real gift.
Let me provide a visual to highlight my point. Imagine yourself sitting in the drivers seat of your car and looking up at the rear view mirror. The rear view mirror allows you to look behind you and represents the past. Some of us spend way too much time starring at the mirror which creates feelings of regret, resentment, and guilt. On the other hand we may focus on what is a mile down the road or around the bend and fixate on the future. Then we live with fear, anxiety, and worry. The third option is to focus on the windshield which only allows us to see what is directly in front of us and represents the present. That’s where our focus needs to be since the past is history, the future a mystery, and the present a gift. I encourage patients to spend 10% in the past, 20% in the future, and 70% in the present. Not easy to do, but worth the effort.
Living for the moment helps us appreciate what we have rather than focusing on what we lost or never had. So how do you live in the present consistently and move from the past or future? Next week I will give you specific strategies, but start by pausing for a couple of minutes several times a day and reflect on life or your surroundings. You’ll be amazed at what you miss when you are not living in the present.