Live in the Present not in the Imagined Future
We all live on hope and we all look forward to a better future.
But we also do not acknowledge the fact that most of the times we live the imagined future.
I have many friends and a number of clients that I meet gives me a feeling that most of them are stressed out or unhappy because they rely too much on what will happen to them in the future.
I know that one must pursue his dreams and one must walk on the path to accomplish those dreams but I also believe that one must understand the value of “what they have now” rather than “what they will have” tomorrow.
Most of the people seem to live in imaginative or anticipatory thinking. What I mean is they imagine how better their life would be if they meet certain conditions or how awful, stressful or difficult something is going to be at some point of their life.
Imaginative thinking involves something like this. “I can’t wait to get a better job, then I’ll have more income at my disposal”, “My wife will respect me more and love me more if I give her more money to spend after I receive this promotion”., “Just few more years I have to work hard and then my life will be so smooth will all top comforts”, “Just wait – My life will be so much more fulfilling when more money comes”, “My kids will grow up, be independent and I can be dependent on them”, “My arrogant boss will be replaced soon and then I can work the way I want with full autonomy”.
These are some statements I have heard from many. This is to live in anticipatory thinking. I think you get so carried away by all these thoughts that you distance yourself from the present moment of your life, thereby postponing the act of living the present more effectively and joyfully.
These are examples of what a long-term anticipatory or imaginary living as I call it. But there are also short-term forms of this thinking.
“The next few days are going to be unbearable”, “I am going to very tired tomorrow”, “I just know that my meeting tomorrow is going to be a disaster”, “I know my boss and I are going to argue tomorrow”, “I will be in trouble for sure”.
These are just a few examples and there are endless variations and possibilities of this stressful tendency. The details are usually different but the result is the same – stress!
Anticipatory thinking sometimes does create problems that actually would not exist. To have hope and pursue dreams is totally different from living in an imaginative future. You can expect the best to happen to you but with that you often expect also the worse things to happen to you. We are all-wise and most of the times we are at fault.
Looking at the future positively is good but obviously it requires some planning, execution and looking forward to future events and accomplishments which are an important part of success. You need to know where you would like to go in order to reach there.
Most of us take this planning too seriously and engage in futuristic thinking all too often. In this process we sacrifice the actual moments of life – the present in exchange for moments that exists only in our imagination. An imagined future may or may not ever come true.
Sometimes people ask me, “Is it not exhausting meeting so many people every day, getting fired with so many questions, and then consulting and advising them, and still staying so calm and composed?
I admit that I really get tired and sometimes I even complain about it, but in reality it is quite satisfying to empower people in their lives and lead them to a happy and fulfilling life.
If for that matter I spend my energy thinking about many problems I would face tomorrow and then worry about how I would be able to manage, it is predictable that I would be already exhausted and overwhelmed.
I reiterate that whenever we focus too much on all there is to do instead of simply doing what we can in this moment, we will feel the pressure associated with such thinking. The solution to this issue is identical for all of us.
Observe your own thoughts caught up on the expectations and imagined future. Connect to those thoughts and your stressful feelings and you will step back and recognize that if you reign in your thoughts running riots, bring them back to what actually you are doing now, you will have far better control of your life and what it could offer.
Let us improve our relationships for now, let us earn respect and practice humility for now, let us imbibe values and morals in our children for now, let us move peacefully together for now, let us accept what we have for now, let us all enjoy every moment of now – ‘live’ the present to the fullest and be happy.
With grace and peace,
Dr. Vickram Aadityaa