Human beings are time travelers. We are constantly slipping between three frames: the Past, the Present, and the Future.
We visit the Past when we focus on our memories. As people age they spend more and more time in the Past, looking back on their experiences. While we can solve the problems of the day by learning lessons from Yesterday, that is rarely why people do it. More often we Ruminate – we brood and think of painful things, and wonder what could have been done differently.
Rumination is a dangerous occupation. It lowers your mood and throws you off balance. In time, too much rumination leads us to become depressed. We often torture ourselves with our most painful, shameful, and embarrassing memories for not good reason. The Past is full of regret and sadness – visit it only to learn from it – don;t make yourself miserable by dwelling thre.
We visit the Future by planning, setting goals, daydreaming, and imagining. The future is in many ways kinder that the past. We can get hope and confidence from the future. If we imagine our successes ahead of time, and rehearse for things we now will come, we can be much more successful. Learning effective visualizations can make you a far happier and more successful person. Learning how to set goals is critical to being the best person that you can be.
But the Future is also uncertain. We can’t actually see the real future. As enjoyable as it is to daydream happy futures, it is Human Nature to focus more on the unpleasant possibilities. To play “What if…” for all of the worst and most terrible possibilities. We can find ourselves Worrying about things that we cannot control or influence.
Spending too much time worrying about The Future can sap our confidence, and fill us up with anxiety. It is a place full of imaginary dangers that you cannot protect yourself from. And so it is a time you should visit with a purpose – to plan and visualize when you need to achieve something.
The time we strangely spend the least amount of time in is The Present. Most of the time, if we are thinking, we are imagining a future, or dwelling on the past. And that is a shame, because The Present is a wonderful time. It is full of mysteries, beauty, and excitement. When you are not planning or comparing; worrying or ruminating; the Present is there waiting for you, full of feelings of joyfulness, wonder, and if you are fortunate, calm and peace. Even when The Present is at its most dangerous, when bad things are happening right now, you are still better off in the Present. If you are awake, alert, and focused on what is going on, your mind will work faster,you will respond quicker, and be open to inspiration.
Learning to take the time to relax and return to the present can break a loop of useless thoughts, and clear your mind of fear and sadness. It is the most pleasant of all times. Sadly, it is one most people are too busy focusing on the contents of their heads to enjoy.