Acknowledge the past. Anticipate the future.
And do not forget to appreciate the present.
As I enjoyed a Bahamian sunrise last week—disconnected from all but the waves and wind rushing by the ship’s balcony—three words came to mind. Acknowledge. Anticipate. Appreciate.
Earlier on the cruise my wife had reminded me of Lao Tzu wisdom:
“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.”
Sage observation as any of us can be paralyzed by the past, paranoid of the future, or embrace the promise of the present.
We can trap ourselves in the past with ruminations about this, that, and the other. It’s easy to ruminate about
- what did not work well in the last presentation,
- an investment gone bad,
- the vacation from hell,
- the loss of someone special,
- a missed career opportunity,
- the “like” we did not get,
- what he/she should have said, or
- a dream never realized.
As we hold on to the past, we miss the present in which we stand and which will quickly move to the immediate past. Live this way and we remain fixated on the rear view mirror. It might serve us better to acknowledge what has happened and enjoy a fuller present moment because of lessons learned.
Similarly, it’s easy to get trapped in the future as we
- prepare for the next presentation,
- scrutinize an investment’s potential earnings,
- envision a much-needed vacation,
- hope for the end to a traumatic time,
- plan for a career move,
- await the next text, tweet, or post,
- contemplate the direction of a relationship, or
- dream of a better …. [You fill in the blank].
Yes, we need to anticipate and prepare (as best we can) for what is on the horizon. But do we need to endlessly rehearse and worry over every little thing that could go wrong at the expense of living the present?
As trite as it sounds, that present moment is the only thing we have. The future cannot be reached without moving through the present. Life happens one moment at a time. If we don’t pay attention and appreciate the moments in front and around us, what do we have?
Acknowledge the past. Anticipate the future. And do not forget to appreciate the present. After all, the past is filled with memories, the future holds our hopes, while the present allows for what is.
Video recommendation for the week:
Eckhart and Oprah say it well.
Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).
(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.