There’s plenty of talk about the importance of being present, living life as it is right now. Except that feels pretty difficult when you live in the future.
No, I don’t have a time machine, although I sometimes wish I did. The only magic I have is an anxious mind that perpetually is always thinking ahead. Chances are, even if I’m here, typing at my computer, my head’s already off into the next part of the day, the next week, the next months.
I’m rushing through the present to get to the next “present” moment. What’s ahead in my path? What do I want in my path to come? How can I prepare and think now to make that happen?
While there are certainly pros to being organized and prepared, there’s something to be said of the cons. Living in the future means whatever is happening right now is passing you by. So, what can we do to change that? Change our perspectives to accept the present as a place worth existing in?
Like I said, I’m a chronic thinker. That usually correlates with living in the future. Since my mind cannot seem to keep quiet for a millisecond, it’s bound to think ahead. Where I’ll be, what I’ll be doing, how all the details will fall into place. I usually conjure up many varied scenarios of how my life will be. Usually with lots of pets and plants.
Not only am I planning my own life, but I tend to plan how others will fit into the equation. Show any slight interest in me, and I’ve probably already thought through what floral arrangements we’ll have at our wedding. Yes, I go far into my imaginative future.
As the song goes, some might say I’m a dreamer. But heaven knows I cannot be the only one. It’s practically been a security blanket to be living in the future. I can easily escape what might feel difficult or insignificant now and venture off to wherever my little heart desires.
If I’m really honest with myself, I know I live in the future because I feel like my current state isn’t impactful or worthwhile enough for my full attention. I’m not missed if I go on playing pretend and thinking of everything I could be doing. It’d be rebuked quickly, but that’s just the cold, hard truth.
why think differently?
The elephant in the room: why change? Is it worth not living in the future and returning to the present? Short answer is yes.
Long answer is yes, for many reasons. The reasons stem from all the negative repercussions you’ve likely faced from your habits. I know I feel them, and they only feed off that root insecurity in whether or not my existence is worthy enough.
Living in the future means a lot of your time and energy is taken away from my current life and relationships. I’m not putting in all the effort I could because it’s wasted on events that likely won’t even happen.
But these people, these experiences, they are here. Right in front of you, and you’re looking off into the distance. You’re making guesses and imagining ideas of what could be out there. All the while, if you turn your head a little and focus your eyes, there’s a plethora of beauty that exists. Details, colors, scents, sounds…life is an amazing experience. Life is a precious gift. Living in the future means you’re not acknowledging and expressing gratitude for that gift.
make a change
Since we’re currently (ha) living in the future, now is the perfect time to change. But it’s probably not a sudden snap into reality. Sure, the act of drifting to La La Land and returning is instantaneous. What makes it difficult is making that act a habit.
We could turn to science to consider how to reroute our neurons to fire off in different ways, but that’s not getting the job done. Only you can change your own mind. It’s a choice. If you aren’t willing to put in the continual practice of being present, then you’re bound to fail.
Mindfulness is all the rage, but society’s images of how that looks should be taken with a grain of salt. If you’re fully present, then you understand that the definition for “living in the present moment” varies for everyone. We all have our own lives to live, and nobody can live them for us.
how to change
Again, practice makes perfect, or at least easier. Every small intention will strengthen your presence. The best part of it is that you can start practicing anytime, anywhere.
Along with mindfulness being all the rage, so is meditation. There’s a plethora of apps and resources available to meditate. All it takes is at least five minutes of your time. Once you get into the swing of it, you’ll want to meditate longer.
Meditation doesn’t have to be stagnant. I personally enjoy meditation through walking or moving mindfully. If I go on a walk outside, or I home in my daily yoga, I completely delve into that moment. I’m focused on how each body part feels.
Outside, I’m really noticing the weather, what I walk past, the sounds and smells. There’s so much we pass by without a second glance. Take a walk or hike or run or whatever you fancy. See what’s really out there. As the kids say, #nofilter.
Another important skill is single-tasking, especially in a world wanting us to do a million things at once. Do one task at a time, without any other distractions or tasks at hand. When you write, you’re not scrolling through social media. When you’re running errands, you’re not trying to call all your friends to catch up.
You have one focus only, which means that single task will be completed intentionally, consciously, with optimal effort. Rather than half-doing a ton of tasks, you’re doing fewer tasks with much greater quality. Perhaps it sounds less “efficient,” but it’s worth your time and presence.
the takeaway message
Don’t wander too far from this moment. Think of the countless times you’ve taken a shower, brushed your teeth, cooked, or even talked to somebody, all while living in the future. Remember how many plans and visions you’ve had, all for things to turn out very differently. Wouldn’t it be nice to prevent extra disappointment and heartache over imaginary realities?
It’s time to stop wasting all our energy on moments that don’t exist and living in the future. The present moment is worth your attention.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie