What is Being Present In the Moment (and Is It Even Realistic?)

“I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.”

Albert Einstein

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?

Simple Daily Goals

(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.

© Lynn J Simpson, 2021

Linking up with Recharge Wednesday

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  1. Love this reflection, Lynn, and photography is always a blessing. I understand the challenge of how quickly our grandchildren grow up. Our oldest granddaughter (our son’s) is 27, a BSN, who lives 500+ miles away, and her brother, 23, just graduated from college and started his first new job. Neither are married, but their worlds do not involve me as much. Our daughter’s family is becoming much the same. He oldest son, 24, is in his third year of medical school, and his sisters, 20 and 18 are about to head out to college. Our youngest grandson, 16, will be a junior in high school. I get texts and connections on Instagram with them all from time-to-time, but now I look at other ways to try to encourage them as they move into the tough world of adult life. I know they love me, but I miss those times of snuggling on the couch with stories to read.

    1. I understand what you mean about missing those snuggling times with your grandchildren! It sounds like they are all thriving though, and I am sure you were part of the reason they are. And I am going to take your wisdom of constant encouragement for the grandchildren to heart! No matter the stage, encouragement is alway required to help thrive in the adult world.

    2. I want to learn from you, Pam, on how to stay connected in the years ahead for me with my grandchildren! It sounds like I need to lower my expectations after these young years, for one thing. 😉

  2. ‘ mindfully bringing our thoughts to the present can help our thinking stay balanced between the past and future.’

    Thanks for this gentle reminder, Lynn … it’s too easy to get stuck in the past or be overly absorbed in what’s coming ’round the next corner.

  3. I like this: Pray. Praise God (present), Repent (past), Petition (Future)

    I think it comes in every relationship, “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.”

    Wise words, “I am learning to build our relationship for the future by embracing the present, and being grateful for the past.” And “remember those wonderful days when our children were babies, and make plans for that future trip.”

    And thank you for sharing your beautiful photo, Lynn!

  4. Whew, I surely need this post, Lynn. I’ve been trying for years to stay focused in the present (and yes, it is quite trendy these days!), but my tendency is to rush forward to the future. I appreciate your measured response that being present isn’t all about the present moment, but also include a healthy dose of past and future. I’ll be featuring your post on the Grace and Truth linkup at my blog on Friday. This is such an important topic for me.

    And the grandchildren issue too…I’m just getting started; I have a 3-year-old, 1-year-old, and 3-month old grandbabies. I want to be as involved as my daughters will let me be, but I know it will be a constantly changing process over the years ahead.

    1. Lisa, thanks for featuring my post! I tend to be too much in the past, so always working on and learning how to live mindfully well. Yes, it is a constant changing process with grand children, and letting our time be filled with them as much as we can leaves us with no regrets as time moves on, I am learning!

  5. Lynn, this is such a practical yet needed post. With all that is happening around us, we can long for the past (what was), and anticipate the future (what is yet to come), and totally miss what God has for us now, in this present day, and in the midst of all that is going on around us. Thank you for pulling me back to welcome today and all it holds in store for me. Blessings!