Past, Present, Future

If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.

Lao Tzu

The idea of living in the present was a new concept for me when I was first introduced to mindfulness. It is something that I continue to work on. I try to stay focused on what is happening to me each moment because just like the quote states, this brings an inner sense of peace and calmness.

A person living in the past means that one's thoughts and words are constantly referencing events that happened long ago. There are probably feelings of regret, resentment, guilt, sadness or bitterness. These are all feelings associated with the past and can lead to depression. Some people stay mentally in their past because their present life isn't what they hoped for or wanted.

A person living in the future means that he or she may have feelings of worry, anxiety, stress, and fear. There is an element of the unknown that could be distressing for a person with their mind in the future.

Since we cannot change the past and have no control of the future, the idea of keeping our thoughts there are futile. For me it just became a bad habit. I started to change my thinking by noticing when my mind was in the past or future. Then, I would (and still do) catch myself and immediately acknowledge what was happening right now.

If I was washing dishes, I thought of the warm water or the food I ate. If I was out walking, I thought of the environment or the weather. I paid attention to my current surroundings and tried to be mentally present in the present.

This all may sound silly, but it works. After a little while, I experienced the inner peace and calm promised by mindfulness resources. Living in the present has given me a new appreciation for the small things in life, as well as the big things.

Every moment is precious and something good can be found in anything that is happening around us in the present.

Featured photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash.