I think people complain more than they celebrate.
I think that’s a problem.
I, like many people, spend far too many of my waking hours feeling worried, stressed, petulant. I think we all do this - we spend so much of our time ruminating about the past and planning or worrying about the future.
We don’t spend nearly enough time being where we most need to be: exactly where we are. Physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually present.
Now, I know this is something that gets said a lot: “Be Present.” People say it so much because it’s really such fantastic advice. But in many ways, I wish we’d all stop - because whenever something gets said over and over again, people become desensitized to the importance of the message.
So, you’ve probably already heard advice somewhere along the way about the importance of being present. But, just stop and think about it, for a minute. How much time have you spent in these states of mind this past week?:
- Thinking about the past
I bet a lot. I bet more than you feel good about.
Here’s the thing.
We can do literally nothing about the past. There are two—and only two—things that matter about the past.
- The meaning and lessons you choose to take out of what’s already happened
- The way you use those meanings and lessons to shape how you make choices and behave in the future
That’s it, folks. There’s nothing else. You can’t change it. You can’t wish it away. You can be mad, frustrated, disappointed, whatever else about the past—but if it’s not a constructive meaning or lesson, you’re just disabling yourself from having a better future.
And with the future, it’s pretty much the same thing. I’m a big believer in the importance of having a solid plan—of being really clear on your vision, purpose, and goals. That being said, I think we spend far, far too much time in a state of fear about the future. It’s disabling. It’s unproductive. It’s almost totally pointless.
I was at church this past weekend, and the pastor was talking about fear. At one point, he referenced some interesting numbers in a study about what people fear.
Of the things we fear:
- 40% have not happened, or will never happen
- 30% cannot be changed
- 22% are problems which are beyond our control
- 8% are things we actually have influence over.
That means of all the time we spend in a state of fear about the past, present, and future, 82% of it is futile. Futile.
So, honestly, why allow worry, fear, rumination, etc. to run your life? I think that knowing those states of mind don’t get you very far anyway takes away their power over you, how you derive meaning, and how you view future possibilities.
And I think the first step to living a better life is being willing to get happy about absolutely nothing. To savor the small, delicate, unexpected moments. To spend more time in a state of gratitude. To do random acts of kindness for loved ones and strangers alike. To slow down and take time to love and appreciate life.
Snowflakes gently falling on you.
A pocket of sunshine.
A laugh between colleagues.
A kiss from someone you love.
An inspiring article you stumble upon.
A sweet call with a family member.
A quiet, stolen moment in a busy day.
A delicious, healthy meal.
A bed to rest your head in.
The world give you a million reasons to be happy every single day.
The real question is: when will you let yourself get happy about them?
If you ask anyone you consider to be successful how they got to be successful, they will inevitably say something to the effect of, “I worked my tail off.”
When you make up in your mind that you are going to do something and work tirelessly to bring your dream to life, one of two (or both) things will happen:
1.) You will achieve the outcome you set out to create.
2.) You will learn a crazy amount about yourself, your passions, your world.
Either way, you win. Given these two outcomes, you are guaranteed success by default the moment you decide to pursue the crap out of what you love.
So keep dreaming. Keep creating possibilities. Keep getting your hands dirty with the work it takes to bring those possibilities to life.
The future belongs to you.