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3 steps to stay positive by living in the present


positive in the present( )


“The past is history, 
the future is a mystery, 
but today is a gift.
That’s why it’s called
the present.”



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.


Final Thought

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! 


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Hi Dani,

Thank you very much for the opportunity to guest post on Positively Present! I hope you had a good trip to South Carolina this past weekend.

Greg - Thank you for writing the post! I really enjoyed reading it!

Awesome job Greg!

It took years for me to learn that the past, whether good or bad, makes me who I am today. I wouldn’t be the same without those experiences. What could have, or should have…is over.

I responded to a forum question today asking people’s best and worst life decisions. I said that my 2 Ex’s are my best decisions in life. Even though both failed, I don’t view them as failures. It would be so sad to view 20 years of my life as a failure. I learned SO many valuable lessons and couldn’t imagine life any other way.

My 40th birthday was an eye opener for me. Based on my family history, 40 is my ½ way mark! I’m absolutely amazed at how fast time flies. It’s sometimes hard to remember that each day counts to the fullest when it’s marked by years past.

Thanks for writing!

Hi Scott,

Thanks so much for the kind words!

Like you, I try to be grateful for the past, because it made me who I am today. I think that's the best attitude to have, especially considering that we can't change the past. We can only learn from it.

And I also agree that relationships that last maybe 10 years instead of 50 or 60 are not failures. Honestly, I'm not crazy about the word failure. I think real failure is when you don't try. With relationships, people simply change and may not be right for each other after a certain period of time.

My 30th birthday was an eye opener for me. But now I've gotten to the point where I pretty much just don't care about my age. I feel like I'm still 18 or 20, but I'm a lot smarter and wiser. And I accept myself for who I am now. I think that's a lot more difficult to do when you are younger.

Keep living every day to the fullest!

Scott - Thank you for your comment on Greg's post. I'm with you in believing that some of the relationships I've been in have really made me the person I am today. It's easy to label things as a mistake when they don't work out, but that would mean labeling all that you learned from those people as mistakes too. We really learn a lot from our relationships and it's awesome that you are one of those people that realizes that. So many people, sadly, do not. It sounds like you're doing the best to live your life to the fullest, which is great. It's a great mentality to have.

Greg - Thanks so much for coming back and responding to comments. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on Scott's comment. I agree with the point you made about failure being when you don't try. When you give something your all and it doesn't work out, that's not a failure in my book. Thanks again for writing this post and contributing in the comments section!


You're very welcome!

Life really does take a bunch of twists and turns and throws some curve balls in there, too.

I like your "Dominate the day" mantra. I'm a fan of carving out meaningful days and meaningful moments.

These are the basic tenets of Al-Anon. I have also heard that if I have one foot in the past and one foot in tomorrow then I piss all over today.

Hi J.D.,

It's great to hear you like the "Dominate the day" idea. It has really made my life so much better.

And I've learned to try to take the curve balls that life throws us in stride. There have been times when I thought something wasn't good and it turned out to be a big blessing in disguise.

Hey Syd,

That's an interesting way to make the same point! I definitely look at these ideas as common sense but not always common practice. I've found that it takes a lot of discipline for me to focus on the present. But it gets easier with more practice.

Greg - this is a really focused and strong post and I really enjoyed it. You have clearly learned a lot. I agree with JD - dominate the day or even the moment! That is all we can really manage and if we learn to enjoy it and fill it with purpose, the past and future lose their dominance over us. Thanks so much!


Hi Phil,

Thanks so much for the kind words. I really appreciate it!

In particular, I liked when you said "the past and future lose their dominance over us." This is a great way to put it. That's exactly what it feels like. But we are in complete control of the present, so that's where the focus should be.

Hi Greg, Hi Dani,

Yes, forgiveness is a powerful tool to let go of baggage. Forgiving and cutting someone loose is really a much better alternative to letting ourselves be weighed down by holding a grudge. As well, forgiving ourselves and not being so hard on ourselves, as difficult as this may be to do, will release us to move freely in the present.

Focusing less on the future can also be hard especially for those of us who are trained to plan and make things happen. But we can do these things and also enjoy ourselves right now. There's no need to spoil the present moment because our projections for the future are coming up short. As much as we'd like to predict the future, one thing's for sure, there's always a curve ball we can't plan for.

And Dominate the Day -- super cool!

Great guest post.


My Grandmother is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and no longer remembers her own life.

Dominate the Day is so important because someday we might forget. We could look through a photo album and not recognize anyone. There are so many “what ifs” that can’t be answered.

My biggest fear about dying is that my last words (or thought) will be, “You’ve got to be kidding. I wasn’t done.”

It’s unreasonable for me to feel everyday is perfect, but dominating the day makes me feel good about each day.

Keep up the good work!


Yah, I’m certainly not the poster child for successful relationships! I wish there was some sort of training people could go through first. To get my driver’s license I had to take a written exam and a test drive! But not a marriage license…

But seriously, I felt much better when I learned that life isn’t a mistake, but an opportunity.

Hi Belinda,

Thanks for stopping by and checking out the post!

I completely agree that holding grudges is not the way to go. The negativity does not lead to happiness.

And I know how difficult it can be to not focus too much on the future. I like to have a general idea of where I'm going. But when I start micromanaging the future, I know I've gone too far!

Thanks, Scott. I really appreciate it!

It seems like the only way to truly live is to be in the present. When we focus (too much or in an unproductive manner) on the past or the future, we really aren't living. We are just wasting time.

I believe the purpose of life is to experience joy, happiness, and fulfillment. And I find I am most likely to accomplish this by being in the present.

Furthermore, I appreciate your sharing your grandmother's story. It's a powerful reminder to live each day to the fullest.

Hi Dani and Greg,

I'm also big on letting go of the past. If we're not careful it can be like a weight that holds us back from living in the present.

I also enjoyed the quote you shared at the end, "When you take care of the minutes, the hours take care of themselves." So true.

J.D. - I'm also a big fan of the "Dominate the Day" mantra. It's a great one!

Syd - Thanks for sharing that piece of wisdom. I've never heard it put that way before, but I really like it. You have to live for today -- not for yesterday or tomorrow.

Phil - I agree with your words that we cannot let the past or future dominate our lives. As Greg mentioned, we have to dominate our days!

Belinda - Thank you for sharing your wonderful insights on this post. I love what you've written about forgiveness. You really highlighted one of the key points here and I'm glad you did.

Scott - Oh, me neither! I'm definitely no relationship expert, but I've learned a lot from the experiences I've had and I really believe that the hard times are what make me really able to live in the present and focus on the positive in my life.

Barbara - That's a great way of putting it. Sometimes the past can really weigh us down and it's up to us to let it go and focus on the now. Love the quote you shared!

Greg - Thanks again for being so great about responding to comments. It's wonderful to get a good dialog going with a great post like this one and I'm really glad you've taken the time to participate.

I dominated another day! The sun helps keep me energized. I also found some cool things on the internet!

Scott - Way to go! Dominating days is awesome! I agree that the sun is one of the greatest forces when it comes to making a day a positive one. (And cool things on the internet aren't too bad either.)

Hi Barbara,

I'm really glad you enjoyed the quote at the end of the post. It is one of my favorites. Somebody told me this about 15 years ago and I have found that it is SO true.

And I really like your description of the past being a weight. In a similar fashion, I often think that it is like carrying around a backpack full of bricks. And what needs to be done is to take the backpack off and start walking without it. I know I tend to feel emotionally "lighter" when I let things go.


That's great to hear! Keep it up!


You're very welcome! I've really enjoyed the discussion. And thanks again for the opportunity to guest post.

Great post Greg! I commend you for getting to that point where you no longer dwell negatively on the past or the future. I totally agree with you, I find that when I dominate my day and take control over my focus is when I'm more happy and positive. The second I start to worry about the past or what if thinking is when a flood of negative thoughts and emotions come over me.

Thanks for sharing!!

Jarrod - Thanks for your comment on Greg's post. I agree that it's awesome that he's working on not dwelling negatively in the past or future. It's something I'm striving to do every day too and it really makes my life a lot more positive!

Hi Jarrod,

Thanks so much for the kind words!

It has taken me a long time to get to this point, but it definitely feels so much better to live in the present. There are still times when I get off track and negativity arises as a result of focusing on the past or future in an unproductive manner.

But now I usually notice what is happening much more quickly and soon I am back to living in the present.

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