Living in the Future Past

Have you ever had a moment where reading the right thing at the right time made you change your perspective on life? Something so simple that, in the back of your mind you always knew, but spoken or read in a certain way just connects with you on a personal level? Maybe after going through a hard time where life really made you question yourself and everyone around you?

“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

This quote slapped me in the face like a wet rag. Reading it was awkward & uncomfortable, but oddly refreshing, and it made me look back on my own experiences. The times where I was down usually came from memories of failure or loss, and the times where I was worried were when I was concerned with something that had yet to happen. Of course depression and anxiety are two very complicated states, and you cannot trivialize someone’s suffering, as everyone feels emotional pain in their own unique way, but the quote still reminds us of a simple logic that is crucial to keep in mind.

We can’t enjoy what’s right in front of us when our mind is always somewhere else.

Living in the Past

Pain is an excellent teacher, but its scars will haunt. Everyone at some point gets so distracted by something or someone they lost or missed out on that nothing around them can improve their mood.

Oh hell no, Gina just missed that parking spot! Now she has to drive around the block for 10 minutes and park six blocks away from home. Her night is ruined and she’s going to throw this entire thing out of proportion for the rest of the day; because her feet hurt and oh my gawd she shouldn’t have to deal with it.

Sorry to all the Ginas out there and all the people laughing at their friends named Gina, but someone get this girl a snickers. While a somewhat shallow example, Gina is living in the past, likely because she has built a habit of allowing petty things to ruin her mood. She’s justified it to herself that she has a right to act that way because of all the wrongs the world has put on her, and at one point or another all of us are Gina. We all allow ourselves to let things bother us that they shouldn’t, and that is usually a sign of something else on our mind that we’ve yet to come to terms with. When we feel that all the world around us is bad, it’s usually because our perspective is colored by our past.

Living in the Future

Can’t sleep.
Can’t stop looking at the time.
Relaxing doesn’t feel relaxing.
Sound familiar?

Jorb has to get this done. He has to get it done before tonight, and he has to finish setting his appointment for his appointment. Dinner is going to have to wait, he’s going to have to stay up all night and who knows if they’ll even like the finished product? Will he make enough money for rent? What about the baby? What about the baby’s momma’s mama?

Jorb is clearly screwed, so you can’t blame him for being a little anxious. Thoughts start to overlap eachother, and in trying to handle so many things being thrown at us at once we struggle to see anything clearly. Life is constantly shoveling dirt in our face, and many of us only have the opportunity to take momentary breaks for ourselves inbetween the energy spent dealing with the people around us. We’re all guilty of trying to plan for the future and struggling to adapt when things don’t go the way we’d imagined.

This quote reinforced a simple logic that became a core philosophy to me. If your mind is so preoccupied with what has already happened, or what has yet to come, that you cannot take the precious seconds necessary to enjoy the good things about world around you,(from appreciating small things like sunshine and, – yes, I’m going there – rainbows, to noticing and celebrating the endearing traits of the people around you) then you’ll miss out on so many joys of the present.

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