Steve Pavlina presented an excellent article called “Go for a Presence Walk” on his blog that reminded me of an illustration about living in the present moment.
Instead of having you close your eyes (since you can’t read with your eyes closed), I’ve added a picture of an hourglass. Imagine that the top half of the hourglass represents the Future, the Middle represents the Present, and the bottom represents the Past.
The middle of the hourglass narrows to allow just a few grains of sand to pass through at any given moment. The same is true with our lives. We convert the future to the past through the decisions that we make right now. In fact, only the decisions made in the present moment have any impact on our results. Don’t get me wrong, the past and the future are critical in evaluating which decisions to make; however, an improper focus on either will prevent you from achieving your true purpose in life.
Focus on the Past. Many people try to hold on to the decisions they have made in the past. This usually takes the form of unforgiveness. Not forgiving others can result in bitterness, while not forgiving ourselves can result in feelings of guilt. When we focus on the past decisions, circumstances, or results of our lives, then the present moment gets clogged or constricted.
By constricting the flow of decisions by holding onto feelings of bitterness or guilt, we limit our future. Remember, the only way for the future to happen is for the sands to pass through the narrow opening. Focusing on the past can keep us from reaching our goals. Even worse, these feelings can cause serious health problems. The connection of health to forgiveness is illustrated when Jesus said to the paralytic in Luke 5:23 “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?”
Focus on the Future. Focusing on the future in a negative way usually results in anxiety or worry. Both of these feelings are rooted in fear. Sometimes, people have such a fear of failure that they are unable to take action on anything. This causes the granules of sand to seem to enlarge to such a degree that they are unable to fit through the narrow opening. In other cases, people have a fear of success (you may not believe it but it’s true). People will avoid attempting to try something new because of the change that will occur in their lives if they are successful. In both of these cases, a person’s true vision and dreams will elude them.
Anxiety and worry will cause a person to either become angry or withdraw. Both of these reactions will stop a person from moving forward. The first step in overcoming worry is to become aware that you are doing it. As odd as it sounds, people often live in denial.