BE – Learning to Live in the NOW Versus the Past/Future

How can we live in the NOW? We live in a world that is never content.  It is a world that shoves before us a message of “should” and “ought.”  But we will never live a productive life … a healthy life … as long as we “should” on ourselves.

beWhy do we find it so hard to just BE.  We are not meant to be Human DOings … but Human BEings.  In this post, I want to give 5 things you can implement to start BEing.

For me, I find that there is a continual battle of ways to look at life … should … ought … if only … when this happens …

The problem with all of these ways of thinking is that it forgets that we have life NOW.  We refuse to live in the NOW.  To us, life is all about the future … when ____ happens then I will be happy.  When I lose weight … when I make more money … when I get beyond this stressful deadline … when I finally get my degree …  We hold ourselves hostage to living until this ideal is realized.

Or, we live in the past of regret and judgment.  If only … if only I hadn’t done that … if only they didn’t do that to me … if only I had accepted that job … if only I had spent more time with my children … This type of thinking also paralyzes us from NOW.

Think about this … all you have is NOW.  Yesterday is gone forever.  Tomorrow is not guaranteed.  Thus, the only place you can live is in the present moment.

There is incredible freedom in BEing.  Not DOing.  Instead, simply letting your identity be based on the fact that you are alive and breathing.  The fact that you are reading this post, means that there is still an adventure for you.  There is still hope.  There is still life to be lived.  There is something or someone in this moment worth knowing.

By not BEing, we experience a host of odd emotions, like worry.  Worry is an interesting distractor in life.   After all, why worry about things you CAN control?  Because you CAN control them!  And why bother worrying about the things you can NOT control?  Because you CAN’T control them!  Worry is like a Coke Zero – no calories, and no taste.  Give me a real Coke any day.  We have such a short amount of time in our lives, thus we are so much better off allowing ourselves to think thoughts that actually matter.

So, here are 5 things you can utilize to start seeing your life as a human BEing rather than a human DOing:

  1. Realize you can live in the NOW moment.  If you are used to being a past/future thinker, you may feel that it is impossible to live NOW.  I want to encourage you, as someone who has also been dominated by past/future thinking, IT IS POSSIBLE.  But you have to want this.  And you have to believe it is possible.
  2. Quit beating up on yourself.  What matters is that you realize the need to BE and live NOW.  Once you do this, it will take a lot of time and “baby steps” to see it realized in your life.  It will not happen over night for most people.  You may fail more than succeed … at first.  But if you don’t give up, and become completely STUBBORN in living this way, you will see it surface in your life.  Remember, it is the journey that matters, not the destination.  So quit expecting perfection or quick fixes.  If you have just one tiny success today, throw a party!  If you had none, regroup and study what happened.  Then the next day, find one thing that is small that you can have a victory in.  If you must see this as a “test”, then consider this. You only fail this “test” if you quit trying.  Every step forward is passing the test.  Achieving 100% perfection is not what this “test” is about.  Cut yourself some slack and keep moving forward.
  3. Talk to yourselfOUT LOUD.  Quit fighting your thoughts inside your head.  I find that if I’m concentrating too much in the past or future, I have to start talking to myself out loud.  This can help me focus, and silence those thoughts.  This is one of my favorite “tricks” to get rowdy thoughts to silence.
  4. Have a check-up from the neck-up.  That is, two of our biggest problems are our thoughts and our mouths. First, remember that every thought that pops in your head does NOT have to come out of your mouth.  Catch yourself in the act of doing this, and simply stop saying the negative thought.  Think of it like your phone.  Just because someone calls you doesn’t mean you have to answer!  Just because you start saying something, doesn’t mean you have to finish!  Simply stop the negative saying.  Refer to #2 above.  This is not a test; this is a journey.  If you catch even one negative talk today, you have begun one of the greatest journeys in your life.  Don’t focus on the ones that got away.  Don’t regret that roses have thorns; be thankful that thorns have roses.  Second, challenge your thoughts.  Get used to questioning what you are thinking.  I have a podcast all on this topic of Stinkin’ Thinkin’.  Check it out!
  5. Ask for help.  Don’t be afraid to ask a close friend or relative to help you identify when you are going down this pathway of thought.  Sometimes, we don’t realize how much we think or do things, but those who are close to us do.  Enlist their help!

Do you have any tips and tricks on living in the NOW?  Feel free to tell me in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “BE – Learning to Live in the NOW Versus the Past/Future

    • Thanks for the suggestion Kerry! I believe I have read that before and enjoyed it, but need to double check. Were there any particular lessons from the book that really resonated with you the most?