“The past is history,
the future is a mystery,
but today is a gift.
That’s why it’s called
While I'm recovering from my weekend away in South Carolina, today you have the privilege of a guest post by Greg Blencoe, a life coach who publishes the Positive Waves Baby blog. His blog focuses on better living through the law of attraction, spirituality, and self-improvement. To learn more about Greg, you can visit the "100 Things about Me" page on his blog. Greg has found that a large portion of the negativity in his life was due to dwelling in the past or focusing on the future (me too, Greg!). He is most positive when living in the present, and has provided us with three great steps for staying positive by living in the present moment.
Step 1: Let Go of the Past by Forgiving
I just turned 36 a little over a month ago. Fortunately, I am now emotionally clear with most of my issues from my past. However, well into my 30s, I was carrying around far too much heavy negative emotional baggage. As I’m writing this, it’s almost unbelievable that I harbored negative feelings about several issues for an entire decade or two. The amount of time that I completely wasted is almost unfathomable to me. And while I wouldn’t say that these negative feelings dominated my life, I am certain they held me back and kept me from realizing my full potential.
Around the time I turned 30, I started to realize that the more things I let go that were bothering me, the happier I became. While this definitely does not mean I stopped holding people accountable, I found that no problems were solved by my feeling this way. I was only hurting myself. Basically, over the past six years, I have learned to choose my battles.
Most (and perhaps all) of the time, the process of letting go of the past has involved either forgiving myself or forgiving others. I have had to forgive myself for feeling like I wasn’t good enough, poor decisions that I made, not standing up for what was right, etc. And although looking back in the grand scheme of things none of what happened would probably be considered a big deal by other people, it mattered a lot to me for many years so I had to come to terms with it.
I also had to forgive other people. Actually, this might not be correct. In my situation, perhaps what I really had to do was forgive myself for the expectations that I put on these people. Looking back, the real problem was that I wanted various people to act a certain way and they didn’t. Therefore, I had to let go of the fantasy of what could of or should have been.
Step 2: Focus Less on the Future
Another significant source of negativity in my life is when I focus too much on the future. Let me say upfront that I am definitely an advocate of having goals, a vision of where you want to go, etc. I deeply believe that you must first create in your mind before it becomes true in the physical world. Therefore, I would classify focusing on the future in this way as very positive. On the other hand, I view the fear, worry, constantly playing out countless scenarios, etc. associated with excessively focusing on the future in a negative manner to be a big problem.
Since I was 18, my life has taken so many unexpected twists and turns. A lot of this is just because of who I am. I have really enjoyed moving around and being involved in various projects. However, life still has a way of surprising us which can make long-term planning a bit difficult. And today things seem to be changing at a much faster pace than before.
Just think about how much the world has changed in the past five years. Where were blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, text messages, etc. just five years ago? And yet now they are a huge part of our lives. I can only imagine what technologies will revolutionize our lives in 2015 that either haven’t been invented or most of us don’t even know exist right now.
Therefore, with so many variables, focusing too much on the future seems like a waste of time and energy. This is especially true when excessive worry and fear is involved. At some point, you are much better off focusing on taking action to prevent what you are worried about or fear happening in the future.
Step 3: Have a “Dominate the Day” Mindset
While I always learn from the past and have a general idea of where I’m going in the future, my main focus is on living in the present. And I do this by having a “Dominate the Day” mindset. To be completely honest, I adopted this mindset out of frustration. I am the type of person that can play out countless future scenarios in my head. While a little bit of this is necessary and productive, too much inevitably leads to unproductive worry and fear. I got so tired of making frequent trips to negative town that I decided to adopt the “Dominate the Day” mindset.
The idea is that I almost completely focus on what I can do that day in order to accomplish my longer-term goals. I do my best to not worry about tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. Instead, I focus on doing everything I can that day to get where I want to be. While this may sound strange, it’s almost like life is a video game and I’m trying to get the highest score that I can on that day. And then I get up the next day and do it again. It has been very liberating to free myself of worrying too much about the future.
I want to make it very clear that I’m not saying that never thinking about the future is the right way to go. The purpose is to eliminate an unproductive focus on the future. While this will vary from person to person, I would guess that 80% of the time I used to spend thinking about the future was at the very least unproductive and, more likely, counterproductive. The point is to instead utilize this time much more effectively by taking productive action.
The strategy behind the “Dominate the Day” mindset comes from something a good friend of mine once told me: “When you take care of the minutes, the hours take care of themselves.”
This post was written by Greg Blencoe, a life coach who publishes the Positive Waves Baby blog, which discusses better living through the law of attraction, spirituality, and self-improvement. Check out his site for more great insights!