This post is part 3 of 3 on the power of the past, future, and present. In this post, we will discuss the power of the present. This post builds on the previous posts on The Power of the Past and the Power of the Future. I suggest reading those before reading the rest of this post.
The Most Precious Commodity
Time is the only commodity that can never be replaced. We each have a limited number of hours in the day and a limited number of years in our life. Some people lead big audacious lives while others live their lives quietly or reserved. Neither is right or wrong, and neither is better than the other.
There is no right way or wrong way to live your life. There are only two real choices – to live your life with intention or to live it without intention accepting whatever comes your way.
Over the course of a lifetime, no one lives their life completely with or without intention. However, at any given moment, the choice is black and white.
Am I being the person I want to be and doing what I want to do at the present moment?
It is inevitable to live some moments unintentionally. However, the more you can live your life with intention, the happier and more successful you will be.
Being intentional doesn’t mean you are always working. It doesn’t mean that you never rest, or that you never take time to have fun. Being intentional doesn’t mean that you can’t go with the flow or live spontaneously. Being intentional doesn’t mean that you spend every possible moment trying to achieve your goals.
Being intentional simply means choosing to spend your time in a way that serves you best right now. It means consciously choosing how you want to spend your time.
Remember, your purpose in life revolves around balancing living, loving, and learning. Living is joyously experiencing life. Loving is taking care of yourself and serving others. Learning is growing and evolving as a person.
Life is a Balancing Act
A balanced life requires time for work and time for rest. It requires time to serve others and time to take care of yourself. It requires taking time to learn and time to just experience and enjoy. It requires time for relating to others and time spent reflecting alone.
As we progress through different life stages, we hold different priorities. At times our career may be very important. At other times, our family or our friends may be more important. There are times when our health may be the biggest priority. And other times, developing our spiritual life may be most important.
The key is to thoughtfully consider what are your biggest priorities at this stage of your life. Then, determine how to best balance your intentions.
There is no right or wrong formula. There is only what is right for you. You must find your balance.
Connecting the Past to the Present
As we discussed in Part 1 of this series, The Power of the Past, the past is important because it brought you to where you are today along with your current beliefs, thoughts, and action patterns.
There are times when the best use of your current time is to reflect on your past. Reflecting and learning from your past can help you live better in the moment and in the future.
However, one of the dangers of the past is allowing your past negative patterns to guide how you live in the present.
When you are aware of how your past experiences serve you positively or negatively, you have the power to choose to live in the moment with your best possible self.
Connecting the Future to the Present
As we discussed in part 2 of this series, The Power of the Future, what you do right now lays the path for your future. However, not every moment has to be spent preparing for the future. In fact, if you are always thinking about the future, then you are never living in the moment.
On the other hand, if you always live in the moment without regard for the future, you won’t be able to live the way you want to. By not preparing for the future, you limit your future choices. You must find a balance between spending time planning for the future and living in the moment.
Just know that when you have adequately planned your future, you can live more powerfully in the moment.
Maximizing the Moment
To maximize the present moment, you must have reflected on the past and have clear intentions for the future. When you have considered both the past and the future, you can fully live in the moment without worry or distraction.
By reflecting on the past, you are able to understand who you are and how and why you do things. You are no longer bound to your past ways. You are free to consciously and intentionally to think, feel, and act the way you choose.
When you have adequately planned your future and have clear intentions, you are free to live fully in the moment without worries of the future.
Reflecting on your past and planning your future free you to live fully in the moment.
Mindfulness vs Being Present
Mindfulness is a hot topic recently and with psychology research supporting its importance. If you are not sure exactly what mindfulness means, it simply means being fully present in the moment. It means giving all of your attention to what you are doing. It means not letting the distractions of the world disrupt what you are doing.
However, being present is more than just mindfulness. The word “being” has multiple definitions as both a noun and a verb. One of the definitions is “having the state, quality, identity, nature, role, etc., specified.”
In any given moment, you bring a certain mental state, personal qualities, identity of who you are, your personal nature, and the role you are acting in. The act of being is not a passive act of just existing. Instead, the act of being is an active expression of who you are and what you desire.
Another way to understand this concept is to ask this simple but powerful question:
Am I being the version of myself that I want to be in this moment?
The Enemy of Presence
“We convince by our presence.” – Walt Whitman
The enemy of presence is distraction. Distraction is paying attention to the wrong things. We are either distracted by our environment or distracted by thinking about ourselves.
Technology is the most common distraction. Technology makes our lives easier and allows us to stay connected to people, news, events, and many other things. Technology is a tool, and tools can be used for good or for bad. However, when technology keeps us from being present in the moment, it does not serve us.
Is your technology serving you? Is it helping you to live your life the way you want to, or is it constantly distracting you from being fully present in the moment?
“Multitasking arises out of distraction itself.” – Marilyn vos Savant
The other common distraction is thinking too much about ourselves. Certainly, when you are reflecting or doing something alone, thinking about yourself is appropriate. However, most people spend the majority of their time thinking of themselves when they are with others. Instead of fully listening to what someone is saying and feeling, we instead think about what we are going to say next.
Midlife Application Tip:
Here’s a tip to be more present when you are listening to someone else.
1) Focus your attention behind your eyes so that you are channeling all of your mental energy towards receiving what the other person is saying both verbally and non-verbally.
2) Pause for 2 seconds before answering.
These two steps are simple but powerful and will transform the way you interact with people. Just watch how others respond when you do this.
Here’s the Midlife Lesson:
The past no longer exists, and the future does not yet exist, so there is only the present moment. It is all there ever has been and all there ever will be. There is only one choice that matters – what you choose to do in the present moment. The present moment can either be used well or wasted. It is your choice.
By reflecting on the past, you understand who you are and how you think and act. When you have adequately planned your future, you understand your desires and intentions. With an understanding of the past and clear intentions for the future, you can consciously choose to use the present moment in the best possible way.
Living powerfully in the present moment requires three things:
- Being aware of your current state of being and choosing to be the best you.
- Using your intentions to choose what you are doing.
- Being fully present in the moment without distractions.
Here’s the formula:
Living Powerfully in the Moment = Being the Best You + Doing What You Desire + Bringing Your Full Presence
Here’s the Mighty Challenge of the Day:
- Choose one area of your life where you would like to improve
- Complete the Action Steps from The Power of the Past, and determine what kind of person you would like to be in this area of your life?
- Complete the Action Steps from The Power of the Future, and determine what are the one or two most important things you can do that will make a positive shift in this area of your life?
- What distractions often get in your way (phone, TV, other people, etc.)
- Plan a time when you can be your best you, doing what is important to you, and being fully present without distraction.
- How does this feel after you have done it? How can you repeat it so that it becomes a habit?
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