Using the moment means taking control of your life right now, today. It means not blaming the past or worrying about the future. The only time you have is the present, because the past is gone and the future hasn’t happened yet.
This is a simple idea to understand, but a difficult one to live by.
A lot of the past goes into who you are and what your life looks like—your parents, your childhood, your neighborhood and your community. Plus, you’re getting all sorts of messages from TV, movies, the news and the world around you.
All of these components add up to become your circumstances. Sometimes your circumstances can weigh pretty heavily on you.
It’s easy to get caught up in the circumstances and problems of right now. You might feel as if there are too many problems you don’t have answers for and challenges you have no idea how to handle. But guess what? The circumstances affecting you aren’t who you are. And they don’t determine who you will become.
Youths and adults can try this experiment to show you two different ways your mind works, adapted from the text of SUCCESS for Teens: Real Teens Talk about Using the Slight Edge, the cornerstone material of SUCCESS for Teens, a personal-development curriculum by the SUCCESS Foundation.
Sit on the floor, take a deep breath, bow your head and close your eyes. Then take the next two minutes to think about your life. Anything and everything in your life, whatever comes to mind.
Related: ‘All It Takes Is 10 Mindful Minutes’
Write it down:
Now, get up and walk around for a minute, then sit down again. This time tilt your head up and look at the ceiling. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and think about your life. Again, it doesn’t matter what you think about. Just focus on whatever comes to mind.
Write it down:
Now how did those two experiences compare? Did you think about the same things or were they different? For example, while looking down, did you find yourself thinking about the past? Did any regrets come to mind?
When you were looking up, did you find yourself thinking about the future? Were your thoughts and feelings more positive?
If so, you’re not alone. Most people find it’s pretty hard to avoid thinking about the past while looking down. And when looking up, it’s hard not to think forward into the future, envisioning your hopes, ambitions and aspirations.
Looking behind you will cause you to feel and act much differently than if you look to the future. Where are you looking?
To download the SUCCESS for Teens e-book, learn about the program, share your story about it or make a contribution, visit SUCCESSFoundation.org. Leaders, participants and donors can request a profile in SUCCESS by emailing info@SuccessFoundation.org.
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.