Live in the Light of Today
Where is your thinking the majority of the time?
Close the Door on the Past
"The past is history" according to the old tourtise, Grand Master Oogway, in the popular movie Kung Fu Panda. It is easy to blame our current problems on the difficulties of the past, the people involved with them, and the circumstances that resulted. Doing so, however, removes the responsibility from ourselves and puts it on others. The only result is unhappiness.
In order to live in the present, the past needs to be accepted and dealt with in a healthy manner. Our memories are just that, memories. Each time they are processed through our brains and into our conscious minds, the memories change depending upon our current circumstances. If our circumstances are negative, we see the negative details of the memory, and they become exaggerated, leaving us feeling worse.
The only way to release the grip these memories have on our present is to learn from them. Learning from the past requires removing ourselves from the memory and seeing it from a different point of view. Looking at the incident from the perspective of someone else, we are able to see ourselves differently. We begin to realize that some things that happen are beyond the control of those involved, and could not have been changed or avoided.
Our core belief’s interpretation of our past experience determines our automatic reaction, or our emotional response. If we perceive the situation as being against us, or against our beliefs, our automatic reaction is negative. If we see it as being for us, or benefiting us in some way, then our reaction is positive.— The Emotional Survival Handbook
There may be moments where we realize that it really wasn't our fault, or anyone else's for that matter. Perhaps the event was triggered by an accident, a natural event, or even someone else's choices that we do not know. Seeing the events from a different perspective allows us to accept them as they happened, and to learn from them.
We can make the conscious choice to find something positive in the event. Perhaps our lives are different as a result, or we can make the choice not to act as others did when they did something hurtful. In any case, the conscious act of choice enables us to choose the path of happiness and peace, rather than blame, guilt, and misery.
Once we have learned from the past, we can close the door on it and allow it to become part of the foundation of our life learning rather than a constant reminder of pain and heartache. The addition of a solid foundation underneath our current home, or current self-worth, allows the present to be more sure and progress steady.
Close the Door on the Future
"The future is but a mystery," Oogway tells Po. We don't know what will happen tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that. We can plan and prepare, but we cannot predict. Closing the door on the future means closing the door on our speculations, our "what if's," and our worries. Thinking about what might happen only makes our bodies react with fear.
Anticipating positive events is excitement. And yet, even excitement needs to have its boundaries. Small children have no sense of time, therefore, telling them about future events needs to be limited to close proximity to those events. As adults, we set our own limitations on the anticipation of the future, or we may fantasize ourselves into obsessions and delusions. Unfulfilled expectations are the stuff of which depression is made. Anxiety and worry go hand in hand. You can't have one without the other!
Closing the door on the future is setting limits on our anticipation. We do not know what will happen, however, we do know what we do in the present affects the future. Preparation ensures that we are ready with high quality responses. Continual preparation leaves no time for living in the present and leads to over anxiety, worry, and increased physical symptoms. These are the stuff of which ulcers, heart failure, and strokes are made.
Live in the Light of Today
Today is really all we have. "Today is a gift, that is why it is called the present" according to Oogway. We cannot change the past. We can only prepare for the future. Today is the time to act, be, think, and do. Each second, moment, or hour is a new one, and choosing to act within it to the best of our ability is the only way to be happy. Jim Rohn said, "Wherever you are, be there!"
Time is a funny thing. It passes, no matter what we do. We can squander it doing nothing, or we can live life to its fullest. Time is the most important natural resource we have at our disposal. We cannot store it, re-use it, or wish we had more. There are 24 hours in each day, no more, no less. Re-living the past does not bring back the time that was used. Worrying about the future does not give us more control over that time.
Learn from the past, prepare for the future, live in the present.— Thomas S. Monson*
The sun comes up every morning. The world keeps on turning. The seasons come and the seasons go. Time used wisely is to our credit and will be to our advantage. Time wasted is life wasted. Living in the light of today is relishing every moment, smelling the roses while they are in bloom, not after they have wilted away. It is smiling at someone on the street, giving a hug to someone we love, and making every moment matter.
Live in the light of today. Allow the feelings you have to be felt deeply, be they negative or positive. Learn from every step taken, every path followed, every word spoken. We never know when we will have an end to our days. Leave each person you encounter better than when you first saw them. Build a better world with your words, thoughts, and actions. Then you, and those around you, will be happy.
*Talk by Thomas S. Monson published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (link).
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Denise W Anderson