As we approach the new year and are thinking about making New Year’s resolutions, how much of our time do we spend thinking about and regurgitating our past?
We contemplate the fairness of what happened at work, what a jerk the boss is, how terrible and embarrassing that awkward event was that happened last year! We now may feel incompetent at decision-making because in the past we blew it. Perhaps we made a bad investment and feel everyone now knows how stupid we are financially. We pray and hallucinate that everyone has forgotten our actions that we are ashamed about from the night we had too much to drink. We recall a bad confrontation with a loved one and we so wish it never had happened. We remember someone who did us wrong, or something that was said that was really unkind, and we feel our good nature has been abused. Perhaps we had a marriage breakdown, so we never will trust again. Perhaps we were giving a speech, forgot our lines, and when totally humiliated, everyone laughed. Most times we just push all those horrible memories down inside of us. Occasionally we have nightmares that wake us up in a sweat, tormenting us! The list can go on and on. We remember over and over, and our self-esteem goes down dramatically.
Bringing up the past with all those black feelings simply brings sadness, remorse and lethargy into the ‘now’ and chases away our happiness. Happiness alludes us in the ‘now’ when our time is spent regretting things from yesterday that can’t be changed or bringing worry about our future that we have no control over into our now. ‘Now’ is all we have. “Yesterday is a memory and tomorrow is a mystery,” as the saying goes.
In reality, constantly focusing on negative situations and disappointments from the past will influence our thinking about our future potential and possibility. Fear soon overcomes us and we are paralysed about our tomorrows. We must choose to let go of the past and all of the negatives so the past no longer influences our ‘now’ decisions. This means we can choose healthier living, more fulfilling relationships and wealthier work situations and take control of our life.
Constantly looking back and wishing the past could be different is an illusion and never will bring happiness. If something can be changed in the future then change it, but if it can’t — then let it go. It’s already done –- it is the past. When you deliberately are bringing your mind into the ‘now’ and it keeps rushing back, ask yourself if an apology for something may clear the air. You may find it beneficial to forgive those who have hurt you. This is the only influence you ever will have back there and now the past is finished.
Oprah Winfrey said, “Energy is the essence of life. Every day you decide how you’re going to use it by knowing what you want and what it takes to reach that goal and by maintaining focus.” When your attention is on the present moment and what you want to accomplish ‘now’ your endorphins kick in. They bring pleasure, creativity, spontaneity and joy to the activity. This ‘now’ focus brings satisfaction and fulfilment to our life journey. You discover this is where happiness and joy lives.
An old adage asks us, “If you worry about how tall you are, can you make yourself taller?” Worrying about what could, maybe, potentially, perhaps, happen tomorrow brings unnecessary stress into today. We live in a high fire risk area. We have done the best we can to prepare for tomorrow. We have an evacuation plan in place and this is really living our best today. We know we can’t control what will happen tomorrow, so we simply let go of those ‘what if’ conversations in our heads. We realize that right now we will enjoy and live a happier journey by enjoying each day and thinking about right ‘now’. What can I be doing ‘now’ to grow and evolve into the person I would like to be tomorrow? When I don’t release the past, tomorrow will be more of the same and I will only have more regrets.
When your ‘now’ thoughts, attitudes and actions are guiding you towards the direction of your dreams, then today has been a productive day. Do you plant happy seeds — ‘seeds of greatness’ as Denis Waitley calls them? Enjoy what you’re doing right now — immerse yourself fully in this present moment. Knowing that you have the ability to choose your thoughts and how you will respond in every circumstance sets you free to live life fully. This leads you to a happier life of no regrets. The precious “present” it has been called. Your ‘now’ is all you have. Are you making the most of it? When you are, you have no need to make New Year’s resolutions. You already are living them by living ‘now’!