make a positive mindset your favorite accessory
beautiful afternoons & overcast mornings: a lesson on acceptance

learn to hold on to the past (without losing the present)

 



Have you ever had one of those days that felt so absolutely perfect that you wanted it to last forever? I know I have and, even as I'm trying to live my life in the present moment, it can be hard to stay focused when I know that, at some point, the perfect moment will be over. For me, thinking about the end of a perfect moment is one of those things that can drag me down when I'm in the moment, making it pretty to be present -- or positive. We all know that those breathtakingly perfect moments can't last, but there are ways we can hold on to them so that they are not lost forever, while still managing to live a very present life. 

In holding onto moments and memories, it's essential not to get bogged down in the idea that they are more valuable than what you are experiencing right now. Remember: the only time you really, truly have is now so it's pretty pointless to waste time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. That being said, I do think it's important to keep some particularly special moments with us, even as we live our lives in the present. There has to be, as with most things, a balance between remembering the wonderful experiences we've had and remembering to enjoy the life we're living right now. 

How can we strike a balance between living in the now and remember the good times? I've given this one some thought and come up with a few suggestions that should work for anyone -- no matter what your past or your present situations are. As you read these suggestions, keep in mind that the way to live your most positive life is to stay focused on the present -- but that doesn't mean we can't make a little room for the good things in our pasts. 



How To Hold On To The Past (Without Losing Your Present)

 

  • Save your most treasured memories in a special place. One of the best ways to help you feel as if you're not losing a special moment is to save a memento from it and keep it in a safe place where you can go back and look at it again. Or, take pictures of the moments that mean the most to you and hang them where you can see them all the time. 

  • Look for the good you remember in the moments you're living. A lot of the time we can find some of that good from our memories in the moments we're living right now. Take the time to look around and notice what's happening in your current moments to see if there are any of those memory-making qualities. Memories all start with a moment and it's important to realize that all moments will someday be memories. 

  • Appreciate what you had -- and what you still have. Of course it's essential to recognize what once mattered so much to you and be grateful for the good times and experiences you've had, but it's also just as important to appreciate what you have right now. I understand that not every moment can be an amazing experience you want to hold on to forever, but each moment is valuable and it's so important to appreciate every single one. 

  • Know what to hang on to and what you must let go of. It can be tempting to cling to memories (a.k.a., the past), especially when they have positive connotations, but you have to consider what's really valuable and what's not. This is important both in terms of physical mementos and mental memories. You only have so much space so it's up to you to determine what you really want to place the most value on. Remember: too much of the past (even the good past) can weigh you down. 

     

  • Remember that living now doesn't mean you're missing out. Sometimes, when you've had a particularly good experience, it can be hard to move forward because you feel as if you're losing a part of that experience with every passing moment. Keep in mind that just because you're living in the moment doesn't mean you're not conscious of the good things that have happened to you. Being present doesn't mean you're losing the best parts of your past; it simply means you're making the most of those memories right now.    

  • Share your memories with others, especially those who were present. One of the best ways to keep good memories close to you in the present is to share them with others. Whether you have photographs or merely recollections of an event, sharing those stories now can be a great way to make them last. It's especially great if you can share them with those who took part in the moment and connect with you now about things that happened in the past. 

 

It can be hard to live in the moment when you're longing for a moment gone by, but it's possible to be both present and nostalgic. I completely understand that there are some moments that you don't want to forget and it can be hard to be present when you want to return again and again to those moments. That being said, if you want to live a truly positive life, it's so important to live in the now. Hopefully the tips listed above will help you to live in the moment without forgetting about the good times you've already experienced. While it can be very detrimental to let the past rule your life, I think it's great if you can indulge in the past in small doses and doing this can, in fact, help to enhance the present moment. As you can see from the ideas above, it is possible to hold on to the past -- without losing sight of the present. 

 


How to you stay focused on the present
 without losing sight of your past? 
What are some of the best ways to enjoy memories
 without letting them dominate the present?

Comments

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I always write about living in the moment and teach the importance of relinquishing our past. But I often forget that sometimes what makes us the happiest is the memories that we have to hold on to. Thanks for pointing this out!

I really like this! I had a very tumultuous past & I feel like I'm always struggling with this idea that I NEED to let go of my past to move on, but at the same time I know that it has made me who I am today. I don't want to let my past define me, but I also don't want to completely forget about it, because it obviously has helped shape me.

I think it's really important to consciously CHOOSE what to hold on to. I think if I choose to focus on the positive aspects of my past, maybe I'll be able to cope with it better.
Thanks for this!

Hi,

The memories are state dependent. Try this on: slouch forward, tuck in your chin, tighten your jaw and think about the most pleasant memories. Now after that take three long breaths out, find the balance between your left and right foot, feel your length, your depth and your width, relax the jaw and shoulders and think about the pleasant memories.

Which one is more effective? Which one can we practice both in reviewing past memories and present possibilities?

Thanks,

T

I think being conscious is a great way to practice this. You can think of the past, but you have to remember that the present is the only thing that's real. We should grow as humans, so if right now is better than the past, then you know you're growing. If you rather go back in time, then you're going backwards.

Jarrod - I'm glad you got something out of this post! Like you, I'm always writing about living in the moment and not going back to the past, but sometimes it's okay to hold on to special memories. It doesn't mean we're not living in the now!

Erica - Thank you! It can be hard when you want to let go of the past (as you and I do) and focus on the present to realize that it's okay to hold on to some parts of the past. Also, as you said, the past makes us who we are today so we don't want to completely forget about it (or, in a way, we're forgetting about ourselves). If we choose the right things to hold on to, we can make the most of our present lives without completely denying the past.

T - That sounds like great exercises to try and I'm definitely going to give it a shot. My guess is that, with each exercise, we get something different out of it -- just as we do when we're either living 100% in the moment or reflecting on good things from the past.

Faizal - Great point about being conscious. The only true, real thing is the present, but that doesn't mean we have to completely ignore the past. As long as we remind ourselves what's real, and that now is better than whatever the past was, we can look back fondly on our memories. And this is a great quote by the way: "If you rather go back in time, then you're going backwards." Love it!

Sometimes I try to put time in a bottle. When that doesn't work, I squeeze the moment with all my might and don't let go until it's gone ... and I always wonder how it slipped away.

J.D. - Interesting analogy about the past and present. Thanks for sharing that!

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