Updated: Aug 22, 2019
We have a tendency to spend tons of time wondering about the future and very little time actually living in the present.
I noticed, often, in my conversations with the locals in Central America, I would express some thought about the future—not necessarily anything negative, but a hope or an inspired plan—and it would invariably be met with a waving of the hand as if to brush away a worry, a smile, and a, “Don’t worry about that. Just enjoy today. Today is good.”
At first, I was a little disappointed because it seemed no one was interested in my wonderful plans. I wanted to inspire excitement about the future, but it just didn’t seem to be there. People were too busy living in today.
The change in my understanding happened slowly. At first, I felt alone in my excitement about tomorrow and a bit sad. But as time went on and I participated more in the locals’ daily lives, I saw people really enjoying the present. They were still happy and excited, but they weren’t happily planning for the future. They were happily living in the moment.
Then something else happened. I began to see that in my happily planning for the future, I was also doing a lot of worrying, asking a lot of “what ifs,” and feeling a bit frustrated that I could not make the future happen faster. I noticed that happily planning for the future was causing me pain. Now I am not saying you should not plan for the future. What I am saying is this…
Enjoy the process.
Let’s use the beginning of a new relationship as a good example.
You meet someone new and butterflies are flying everywhere. You lay in bed at night and dream about the future. You wonder what it may bring. And then you begin to worry. The “what ifs” get you. Fear of the unknown begins to creep in.
WHAT IF instead of spending all your time thinking about what might be, you could just enjoy that giddy, I-have-no-idea-where-this-is-going feeling? Could you embrace the excitement of not knowing? Kind of like watching an exciting movie and sitting on the edge of your seat when the music starts to build and you know SOMETHING is going to happen, but you don’t know what. You PAY good money to have that feeling at a movie theater. WHAT IF you could embrace that feeling for a few moments in your life?
Now let’s say you meet this new-found love interest for dinner. You are walking down the street just outside the restaurant and wondering if they will be inside already, if you will have to wait by yourself, if they will still like you, if you will still like them. You try to shake off the feelings because they are outside of your normal day to day feelings and you don’t quite know what to do with them. You wish the relationship was a bit further along in development so you felt a bit more relaxed about meeting for dinner.
WHAT IF you just let go and embraced the rush? It’s a bit like being on a rollercoaster just as its plunging downward at nearly the speed of sound and your stomach is in your throat and you almost wish you could push it back down, but you are really thrilled with the stomach-in-your-throat feeling, you just don’t quite know what to DO with it.
Enjoy the process.
Let go of the need to control. Put your hands in the air and scream and FEEL.
One more example. This one is about having that FEELING that something is going to change in your life, but not knowing what or how or when or where. Maybe you are sure you are going to move. You can feel it in your gut. But you have no idea what the details might be. You might not even know WHY you think you are going to move.
Enjoy the process.
Can you enjoy the feeling of having a premonition? Of knowing SOMETHING is going to happen, but not knowing exactly what. Can you enjoy looking for signs? That whole process of discovering a trail of bread crumbs left for you to follow. Can you enjoy getting those first real, solid pieces of the puzzle that is unfolding before you?
What an exciting journey to be on!
Letting go of knowing life’s destinations might be a bit uncomfortable, but it is thrilling. It takes your thoughts out of the future and pulls them back into the present where you are right now. And it takes the pressure off of you to have to come up with all the answers and allows you the freedom to enjoy this moment. Relax. The future will be here eventually, but in the meantime, embrace today!
Assignment: Close your eyes and let your thoughts drift toward what you feel is in your future and you wish you could bring it into today. Notice how you feel. See if you can identify any emotions that come up.
Now bring yourself back to where you are right now in the process of this thing you are hoping for. Identify where you are right now. Where are you in the process today? How does that feel? Can you let go of the need to move the process forward and enjoy exactly where you are today?