And honestly, up until a couple weeks ago, I was entirely ignorant of it and what it was doing to me. Sure, I’ve heard endless clichés about “living in the moment” and cherishing the time you have in the present, but I had become so desensitized that they were left at just that: clichés.
Call it ignorance, call it whatever you want; the fact is that I was obsessing over the past and thinking too much about the future. Apart from the fact that this completely robbed me of the whole, complete, enjoyment in most of what I was doing, the effects it had on my mind are clear.
Depressive moods, like sadness and regret, have an intricately dependent relationship with the past. Basically, sadness is caused by something that has happened at some point in our past- fresh and recent, or long ago. These two sister-like characteristics of sadness and the past rely on each other, coexisting. They share the fact that neither really thrive without the other. If you feel sadness, especially regret, it is because of something that has already happened- not something impending and coming soon. An easy way I found to look at it objectively was to think about how I feel after leaving a holiday, or a vacation of some sort. Naturally, I’m a little bummed because the glow is over and in the past- everything else in life is not much different.
Now you may be thinking of how you can be sad about something in the future, however it is a different quality found there.
Anxiety is based on fear about the future, and this fear (like it’s cousin, sadness) is also entirely dependent on the concept of the future. You simply can’t be anxious about something in the past, because it is done. Therefore, it is this other, futuristic side of the spectrum that hold this pair of correlated concepts. Another way to look at it is the excitement I feel before the glory of the incredible vacation mentioned earlier, as excitement and anxiety are so closely related emotionally that they can be viewed in the same sense. It is this excitement that is brought on solely by the anticipation of an event coming in the future.
Sadness is caused from an event of our past while anxiety looms from something in our future.
This may seem like common sense, but the reality is that most of us (and myself, without a doubt) aren’t aware of it, which means we can’t really counter it properly.
The truth is that my habit of living in the future and always thinking 5 steps ahead of myself was giving me anxieties that I wouldn’t have had I put my mind in a better place to enjoy the moment.
In short, I was always thinking about my next move, the next part of my day, and what was to come after whatever I was doing currently.
Like I mentioned earlier, this also affects the satisfaction of experiencing the moment, and I was making things way less enjoyable for myself.
If you’ve ever been surrounded in the bliss of a warm summer vacation, you likely know exactly what it’s like to be lounging in the sun, maybe on a beach or by some water- with not a thing to do or worry about except relaxing and enjoying every second. There’s a whole host of other factors that contribute to these habits, like my cellphone and busy mentality.
Just like any other group of habits, there are ways to replace them with better ones.
Focusing on engaging your senses is the bees-knees when trying to stay in the moment. Concentrating on things you can see, feel, hear, taste, and smell is exactly what helps to keep you anchored in the present. Sounds so simple, right? Unfortunately, with technology and all it’s progresses, this becomes increasingly more difficult. The human mind is more engaged than ever before, thanks to these cellular ‘joys’ of innovation, so being mindful of the moments that make up your life gets harder and harder. The effect that being present in each moment you experience does wonders for your own mental health, so taking time to realize it’s importance daily can really reinforce the good feelings of psychological tranquility- which always seem to increasingly more elusive as the stresses and negativities in life pile up.
Just spreading a friendly service reminder of something most people know somewhere within themselves, in order to help keep what matters most at the forefront. As for me, I’m trying to get better at living fresh- and passing along my thoughts in the meantime.
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