When I reflect on where I am in my life at this point, I’m grateful that I can say I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I feel good about the work I’m doing now and the lifestyle I get to live. But it’s when I regress to thinking about the past – those shoulda, woulda, coulda’s start plaguing my mind. It’s in those moments of regret that I begin to forget about all the accomplishments I’ve had since then and how many more I will experience in the years to come. On the flip side, when I look too far out into the future, I get overwhelmed with everything I need to do to manifest my long-term vision. I end up losing sight of how wonderful my life already is.
Where do you spend your own mental time? Is your thinking usually focused on past experiences, present opportunities or future improvements?
Take this quick quiz to help you think about where your mind dwells on a regular basis.
You might be living in the past if:
- You constantly talk about all the great things you did in college…even though you graduated 10 years ago.
- You often reminisce about how popular (or unpopular) you were in high school.
- You still have a grudge against the girl who “stole” your boyfriend in the 8th grade.
- You refuse to forgive the people who have wronged you over the years, even though it’s hurting you to hold onto the pain.
- You frequently remind yourself of negative experiences you’ve had and mistakes you’ve made in your relationships, career, business, finances, health, etc.
You might be living in the future if:
- You can’t wait until you finally “get to where you’re going” and perceive where you are right now as a placeholder for something better.
- You go on Pinterest for hours at a time to search for and pin items you want “someday” for your home and closet.
- You think that getting married will be the final “piece” in your life puzzle and don’t feel you will be complete until you find a husband.
- You feel like you don’t have “enough” money/clothes/shoes right now and you’re constantly plotting on how to get more.
- You’re looking for a “sponsor” to provide for you or waiting for something to come along and “fix” your life.
You’re probably living in the present if:
- You carve out the time to do something that makes you happy every single day.
- You take immediate action on opportunities that will help you achieve your goals instead of procrastinating until “later.”
- You focus on what’s already good in your life instead of on all the things that could be better.
- You make decisions based on what you want to do with your life right now, not on what might happen if you meet your potential husband next month.
- You intentionally spend money to enjoy valuable life experiences, instead of saving every dollar of your income for retirement or a “rainy day.”
The truth is, we all spend mental energy in each of these three timeframes. The key is to be honest about when we find ourselves dwelling too much in one domain to the point where it hinders our overall well-being and progress. This brief quiz hopefully got you thinking about your own mental habits and how you might adjust your mindset to be more productive.
All I know is that for me, I definitely feel much happier when I commit to living in the present than when I focus too much on the past or the future.
When you look at your own time, do you spend the majority of it living in the past, present or future? What ratio do you think is most useful to your own happiness and personal growth?