“One day I hope to find that tomorrow will not matter. Everything I thought I desired was yesterday. For all I needed was today.” ~Richard Tovish
How many times throughout your life or even in your day-to-day do you think about yesterday or ten years ago and wish times could be just like that again? Or even worse, think of all the negative that happened and analyze it in your mind — maybe how you were right and others were wrong — to justify your feelings?
Do you hold a grudge over a past circumstance, event or person? Or do you live in the happy memories that once were but are no longer and feel sad thinking you can never be happy again?
We tend to live in either “our past” or “our future” instead of for “our today.” For people who experience depression, they know all too well that feeling of angst and dread about facing “today.” For those that have held onto the past in whatever capacity, whether it was good or bad, they cling to it and invite it into their “today,” reliving it over and over. The point is, we all hear how we should live for today but how do we exactly go about that when we are stuck in the past which prevents us from facing what’s in front of us, today? Today is a new day; it’s not a day to dwell on what happened or how great things were once (like they can’t be great again someday). You exist now!
There are many reasons that hold us hostage to our past; for many of us we can’t seem to shake it off or let it go. We tend to feel it’s the only life that existed while we’ve been alive and we do not see that what we are doing today IS creating a future past for ourselves tomorrow — make sense? In other words, what we do today impacts us tomorrow. We don’t want to look back at our “today” and dwell on how we were already dwelling on our past. That adds up to too much dwelling and not enough living!
We look at the past as either good or bad. It was good because we know what happened, we know the outcome, we lived it, we can retell it, and we can see all the things about it that we could have done different or that we are so glad happened the way they did. The past is easy to recall and connect with because we feel safe and comfortable in the known. The future and the now are the unknown. It makes it harder sometimes to feel connected and secure because it can be compared to walking up a staircase. We cannot see the entire set of stairs, only the one we are currently stepping foot on as well as all the prior steps behind us that we have already walked. The key is recognizing why our focus becomes so much on our past and begin to notice how often we think about it or talk about it with others. There are many reasons for this so it’s important for you to dive into your thoughts and really start to think about what the core of the issue is that is causing you to stay stuck in a time period that has passed. It’s okay if you don’t immediately know but important enough to consider the idea that there is something hiding there that IS holding you back. Our thoughts create feelings and feelings are what stay with us. If we continue to think of the past over and over then it’s naturally going to stay with us on our journey as well as those feelings associated with it. Dwelling on it and letting it consume our everyday life in the present holds us back from living in the NOW. The present moment is all that exists within us. We are not guaranteed tomorrow, only right now, the present moment.
I know there are just some things that keep us stuck in a specific time period such as: a fond memory with a family member who is no longer present, a success we endured, a great love we shared and relationship that no longer exists, a wonderful friendship where we felt whole but had a falling out, a general feeling of happiness and many more. On the other hand, there are contrary events that may keep us stuck like: any negative event where we feel unjustified and feel there is unfinished business and we feel we must relive it over and over to satisfy our ego that we were right. No matter what it was or is, it’s over! You DO NOT have to relive it or retell it over and over in your mind. As a matter of fact, reliving it or reconsidering it or analyzing it is NOT in your best interest as a whole. Instead, it’s in your best interest to just recognize something is there that exists and there is a core attached to it. It’s like a tree-branch in life, the trunk of the tree is the core of the issue and the tree-branches are all the other issues that spin-off from the core. In other words, if you dissolve the core, you dissolve the tree-branches so no need to look at every single little issue attached to it. Just consider what that core is.
“If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late; could you say goodbye to yesterday?” ~Nickelback
Here are some tips on how to start living more in the present:
1. Recognize you are dwelling.
Recognition is half the battle. Staying in denial— letting your past dictate your now is only hurting you more. Give yourself permission to recognize this. Seeing this simple fact is a huge step in being able to begin to move forward and live more fully in the now and for today.
2. Tell your ego it is no longer needed.
The ego always rears its ugly head. It does this as a false way of protecting us or at least it leads us to believe we need it for protection. Think about it, what is it really protecting us from? It’s not protecting us from anything, instead its hurting us by holding us down and keeping us living in the negative instead of positive of today and the new experiences we could be enjoying. The ego causes us to miss out on a fabulous “today” because we are too busy missing it by thinking about past events that we can no longer have influence over. The point here is…..listen to your heart instead of your ego. Throw it out, tell it thank you for services rendered and then get your money back. Your heart is a better investment.
3. Don’t concern yourself with the future.
If you are a worrier and think about all the things that “might be” you are also surly missing out on a fabulous “today.” Worry only empties today of its joy and pretends to be necessary when in fact it only burdens us leaving us depleted and drained. Most of the things we worry about never happen anyway. Look, we are NOT guaranteed a tomorrow so why worry about it? Another great reason to just ENJOY TODAY!
4. Embrace what’s in front of you.
It’s not always easy to accept our circumstances or situations but it’s what we HAVE to deal with whether we try running from it or avoiding it. We are only delaying the inevitable. Fear is a big false sense of protection as well. Staying in fear and letting the ego convince us it’s okay is only hurting us from enjoying a full present. We deserve to be happy, we deserve to live fully. We cannot choose what we have to face unfortunately but we have to so we may as well put our Big Boy and Big Girl pants on and just do it! It may be uncomfortable for a moment but once we get past it, we feel relieved and so much better and it’s like a huge heavy weight has been lifted off us. Embrace whatever it is and you will deal with it and get past it so much faster than if you avoid it thinking it will go away because it most certainly will not. Many people live their whole lives avoiding only to realize that every turn they make takes them right back to the issue they originally avoided. Don’t run from it in fear – instead Embrace it and Face it!
5. Learn to Forgive
Don’t let your ego throw a fit like a child and convince you that forgiveness is weakness.That’s another false sense of protection. Forgiveness is strength. It opens you up to freedom you never realized existed. Most people hold onto grudges and anger because they feel it hurts the other person. However, most often, the other person usually isn’t upset at all or only hurt because the relationship fell apart. Holding the grudge or anger is like holding yourself hostage over something that will never release you until you do. Expecting your anger to affect others in the way it affects you will never happen. You should practice and learn to forgive even the tiniest little issue. Forgiveness = Peace = Living in the NOW!
6. Remember “Today” is a gift
You are not guaranteed tomorrow or next week or next year. You are only guaranteed right now. Most of us do not even realize this until it’s too late or even at all. We live like we will forever but then think when someone else passes away….”How sad.” Instead of taking today for granted, remember you were given one more day, more time to make a difference in your own life or the life of someone else. Today is an important day, which means everyday is important. What will you do to make today really great for yourself or someone else?
7. Take time to play with pets or kids
Playing is a great outlet. Kids are the most honest of all humans and they also live in the moment. Pets teach us unconditional love and acceptance. The combination of these two helps to keep our spirit free and allow us to live for the now. When we are playing (with kids or pets), we are living in love, we are simply living, we aren’t analyzing or considering or wondering…we are being! Playing brings joy and fulfillment. We can only achieve joy or fulfillment in the NOW.
8. Find your creative beast and unleash it
Believe it or not, being creative in whatever capacity you are is your greatest asset and ally. It doesn’t matter if you LOVE to paint but are not very good at it and cannot make money doing it. The point is you LOVE it, it is YOUR PASSION, your scapegoat from negativity and you can enjoy it and live in the present moment by doing it. Keep in mind being creative doesn’t just entail art. Creativity comes in many forms. Make time each day to do something creative with your passion. If it makes your heart sing then its all you need.