“I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.”
With all due respect to Albert Einstein, he must have been thinking of the future to invent. Einstein is considered one of the world’s greatest thinkers. His theories from the early 1900’s, such as the Theory of Relativity and Photoelectric Effect continue to influence our world today. To create these theories, like any scientist, I’d imagine Einstein would have asked a question first, created a hypothesis, and then made a plan.
Finding the Middle Ground between Past, Present, and Future
My first grand child will be a teenager later this year. Just six months ago, she was so excited to go on a trip with grandma, she couldn’t sleep the night before. Now I have to coax her with a stop at Starbucks to go places with me! There have been moments I’ve yearned for those past times with her such as browsing American Dolls or shopping for her figure skating apparel. Lately I feel a touch of irritation (and sadness) when instead of singing together Disney songs, she sits beside me with her headphones on.
I soon realized I need to be grateful for the past, and find ways to connect with her now so that our relationship continues to grow in the future.
So along with making sure I have monies on my Starbucks card, I now have a list of her favourite music artists. When she says ‘no’ to my offer of skating (because I still have hope one day she will want to skate with me again), I smile and let it go. I haven’t got it perfect yet, this middle time between child and adulthood, but I am learning to build our relationship for the future by embracing the present, and being grateful for the past.
Is it Normal to Keep Thinking of the Past?
“The past was always there, lived inside of you, and it helped to make you who you were. But it had to be placed in perspective. The past could not dominate the future.”
― Barbara Taylor Bradford, Unexpected Blessings
It is normal to think about the past. Healthy even, as long as we don’t think excessively about the past. Problems can arise when we focus too much on what happened instead of being present and planning for our future.
Introspection is when we think about the past with curiosity. Introspection is healthy, allowing us to learn more about ourselves and others. However, when ruminating we focus on our past regrets. Known as ‘spinning our wheels,’ rumination collapses us into our past and doesn’t take us forward. Drawing our attention back to the present brings us back to healthy thinking.
How to Be Present and Future Oriented (in a good way)
Our world is so full of messages about living in the present that it has almost become a cliché! I’ve written about being awestruck by the ordinary through presence of mind myself! To have a healthy thought life, we need to balance our thinking between past, present, and future.
Living in the present also means to be planning for our futures. For example, when you are about to embark on a God-breathed dream, you need to think about your next action steps. Just thinking about the present will not move you toward your goals! Shifting your perspectives between the present and the future is healthy and necessary.
Daily Goals with Future, Present, and Past in Mind
Writing down our goals gives us clarity, vision, and a plan for our day. I know for myself, I feel calmer, less anxious about ‘what should I do today?’when I write down my goals. Below are simple steps to define your daily goals with the past, presence, and future in mind.
1. Pray. Praise God (present), Repent (past), Petition (Future)
2. Define three goals and write them down.
2. Take a minute to visualize yourself completing your daily goals.
3. At the end of your day, take a few minutes to review your day. What worked today? What didn’t work? What will I change for tomorrow? Where did I experience joy today?
(Want help making your daily goals? I have a simple daily planner for you.)
Depending on what we are doing during our day, our thinking will change between past, present, and future. Realistically every thought will not be in the present, however mindfully bringing our thoughts to the present can help our thinking stay balanced between the past and future. So go ahead, remember those wonderful days when your children were babies, and make plans for that future trip. And now smell that sweet summer flower that presently grows in your garden.
I love to read your comments! What are your thoughts on present, future and past thinking?
Breathing Spaces Photography
Today’s Breathing Space Photo is of Waterton Lake in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta Canada.
Linking up with Recharge Wednesday