The past often offers opportunities to identify possible solutions for our future actions. A negative outcome in our past becomes a preventable experience. The past teaches you how you have lived, but it does not teach you about the person you are destined to become.
Over the last few months, I have made it my goal to focus more on the present. In Comparing You with You, I recommended that a person measure their present with the past. This practice was not suggested so that people could dwell on their former life, but rather celebrate their growth. Aside from measuring personal accomplishments, dwelling in the past can become risky.
When building relationships, we often focus on aspects in another person’s past to determine the bond. I can still recall my resilience to interact with one of my high school classmates over a dollar that was never returned to me in middle school. Everyone is guilty of irrationally assessing a person or situation because of past experiences.
When I become knowledgeable about issues associated with dwelling on your former life, I made it my mission to focus on the present. When I realize the amount of control that I had in the present, I was motivated to apply this practice daily. I can contest that living in the present has changed my though process.
I believe that anyone can live in the present if they do the following:
Listen. Of course we do not do this enough. We often listen only so we can apply our perspective into the conversation. When you listen to understand and not to interject, you grow to assess situations and individuals differently. Listening to a person, or even a situation, will help you assess whether they are beneficial to your life. My mother once told that if a person tells you who they are, believe them. However, a person cannot tell you who they really are if you do not to listen to them.
Considered the situation from their point of view. Each situation is not limited to only two perspectives. Each event that we go through in life is multi-dimensional, which means that there are multiple ways to view a particular situation. Take for example that your professor gives you a lower grade than you expected. From your point of view, you study as much as you could and that the professor graded too tough. Another perspective is that the professor gave you a lower grade because he expected more from you. An alternate perspective is that you received the grade because you did not apply the context appropriately within your work.
There is no right or wrong answer in this situation because one perspective does not cancel out the other. What we tend to do is find the wrong person in each situation, but some times a place for blame does not exist. In truth, we do not need to tie ourselves down to one perspective, but instead respect the fact that there are multiple reasons for every occurrence in our life. Accept it and more on.
Think before you speak. Once the words fly out your mouth, you cannot take them back. I found that considering multiple perspectives and listening helped me achieve this practice. You are less likely to say things you did not mean when you are thinking outside of your own perspective.
Treated every day as an opportunity to start fresh. Every day is a new day to start over. This is a great practice for letting someone back into your life. Yes, they were one way in the past, but who are they now in the present? Have they grown? Are you giving their present self a chance?
Gave everyone a fair chance. As you can see, when you apply one step the next just naturally flows into place. Treating each day as a new opportunity to start over allowed me to give every person and situation a fair chance. It is good to note that I did not apply this practice to negative experiences. This is just as fair because you are the only person that can determine what is right for you.
Followed my heart. So essentially, following your heart is how you can control your present. You don’t have to listen, considered various perspectives, think before you speak or give second chances if your heart tells you to do otherwise.
Most important: Individuals grow and change everyday, but are often prevented from changing because people focused only on their past. I once discussed how I was going through a personal change with my friend. They responded by telling me that I would soon go back to my old self. I found this annoying. They were not allowing themselves to see that I had grown beyond my past. A couple of weeks later, I found myself having the same conversation, however the roles had switched. The person was discussing their change and I questioned it in my mind. However, before I spoke I was reminded of my friend’s response. Thinking from a perspective outside my own, I congratulated them on their changed and offered support.
There are times when you keep yourself in the past and other times when someone else does. The advantage to living is that you can instantly change your way of thinking. People should learn to live and enjoy the beauty of the present, because the present is the only thing that can be controlled. We cannot change the past, so placing a great deal of our focus on past experiences and situation is not beneficial.
I promise when you focus on the present and not the past, your mental, spiritual and physical life will improve.