At every moment, we have three choices and three choices only.
We can let our thoughts be pulled back to what has happened in the past. Mulling over a past conversation with our partner, replaying a disagreement we had with a colleague, second guessing our decision to do this versus that, or kicking ourselves for eating this versus that. How much mental time do you spend here?
If you’re like me, you might spend more time in the future. Constantly planning for the next thing, predicting what I’m going to say and do, figuring out how things are going to turn out, even experiencing emotions of things yet to come. Sometimes even uncomfortable emotions like stress and worry...for something that isn’t even real! It hasn’t happened!
Last, and often least, we can choose to be in the present.
All my Eckhart Tolle genre reading had me thinking that “in the present” would feel different somehow. Like, I would know when I was being utterly in the moment and take on some sort of transcendent lightness. Unicorns and rainbows everywhere.
How could I have been so weird? And off target.
I have come to realize that me being in the present is catching myself when I am swimming in the past or flying toward the future. When I do, I simply stop that thought stream and start going with the flow of the present. No transcendent purple aura. No blissed out smile on my face. Just doing whatever I am doing. Driving. Writing. Searching online. When inevitably, I catch myself swimming or flying again, simply rinse and repeat. Voila “the present”!
- Take away #1: Don’t expect unicorns and rainbows.
- Take away #2: As often as you think of this, ask yourself, “Am I in the past, present or future?” And then figure out where you want to be.