Life is simple, but we do everything possible to make it hard. We tend to live exclusively in the past or become fortune tellers about the future. So why can’t we live in the present moment? For most people, it’s tough to do. I have asked people if they can stay in the present moment; most people don’t understand the concept. They can’t keep their mind from thinking about past or future events. From small children, our brain becomes hardwired from the people we model after. If the people we’re around the most talk about and live in the past, never to repeat it, then why can’t we break free of those thoughts?
We create a lot of stress from the stories we tell ourselves. We constantly ‘what if” ourselves to believe the made-up story of what will happen in the future. We can ‘what if’ about anything. How often have you thought about and worried about something that hasn’t happened? I’m right, aren’t I?
The past is equally stressful. We can wallow in self-pity about events from our past. In a workshop I attended to help heal from our stories, I recall a woman with her nephew when he fell to his death while hiking. The question was asked, “how many times will you let your nephew die?” This woman was stuck in the past, and the question was the breakthrough she needed to move on. You can’t change past events, no matter how hard you try. The one thing you can change is how you respond.
It takes work to stay in the present and to let the pain go, but it is doable. While I was still working full-time, people always told me I had a calming effect on them. I rarely got excited or upset about things I had no control over. What good would that do? If I were calm, others would naturally be calm around me. It was infectious to a degree. But inevitably, there would be situations where people’s hair would be on fire (figuratively), and life as they know it would be crumbling down around them due to thoughts about what’s to come. Nothing I would say could snap them out of it…so they suffer. It was always interesting to listen to the stories of what if only to hear that story didn’t come close to reality.
So, what’s the secret sauce to dropping the story and ending the pain? It’s as simple as clearing the mind and staying in the present moment.
If you sit quietly without allowing your mind to wander to the past or future, you’ll feel peace without stress or pain. It’s easier said than done, especially if you have difficulty clearing your mind. Just like with meditation, it takes practice. If you can stop the story for even 5 seconds, that’s a win. You’re not looking for perfection but rather a routine and consistency. Sit with your thoughts and let them drop away until the mind is present and at peace. It’s a glorious feeling!