If our minds are focused on the past, we cannot see the present. If our minds are focused on the future, we cannot see the present. So it is of paramount importance that we live in the present, not the past or the future. We have the unique ability to plan for the future. I am not aware of any other animal that consciously alters its behavior in order to accomplish a goal or strive for a result. This is a blessing and a curse. When we do not judge the past and make positive plans for the future, we can manifest our dreams. However, if we regret the past and fear the future, problems will arise and we will suffer.
We regret the past when we have negative emotions around what we remember. Most people do not understand that our memories are subjective and many filters including our emotions and thoughts at the time color what we remember. Many studies have shown that memories are not accurate and even change over time depending on how we feel about what happened and subsequent events. If our underlying beliefs change, this will also change our memories. So, many times we suffer and regret events that didn’t even happen, we just think they did. It is most impossible to change our minds about a memory. Some of the most heated arguments I have witnessed involved people remembering the past differently. Even if they both witnessed an event, their memories will be different and each will be convinced they are right.
The only solution to this phenomenon is to choose not to judge past events and to not regret them. Although we are taught to forgive others, and ourselves; forgetting is better. So the idea is to not let the past affect your life. We developed memories to enable us to transcend the past, not be enslaved by it. We beat ourselves up over events that may or may not have happened the way we remember. We often have euphoric recall, and remember things in the best light for ourselves. We also have limited perspective, we may blame ourselves for events that we were not responsible for and would have happened with or without us. In our arrogance we think we caused events to happen, but many times dozens of precursors came together resulting in the event. Nothing happens in a vacuum and we are never the sole cause of anything. So we need to forget anything that limits us and causes us suffering. If there is a lesson to be learned, we will get the lesson over and over again until we learn it. We do not have to live in the distant past and beat ourselves up.
As we use our unique ability to plan for the future, we have to learn how to let go of the results. When we plan for the future and expect certain results, eventually we will experience disappoint when those results do not occur. We certainly don’t expect to get sick or experience financial difficulty, but even the best-laid plans do not avoid our karma. So obsessing about what will happen in the future is no good either. The worst of all worlds happens when we project the past onto our future and expect the worse case scenario to happen. Fear will always raise its ugly head when we expect tragedy based on what has happened in the past. Life is what happens when you have something else planned, so much of what we worry about doesn’t happen. Life just doesn’t work that way. So many times we suffer about what might happen, and it never does. So we have spent all of our effort to make sure that we continuously suffer. We are not at peace with our past, and we suffer needlessly about what will never happen.
So we need to forget the past, plan for the future and let any attachments to future results go. In other words, we need to focus on what is happening right now. When we do good works in the present, that is the best assurance that good things will happen in the future.
Finally, we have to focus on the positive. We have to find the pearls in the mud, the diamonds in the sand. If we are breathing, that is a reason to rejoice. Life is too important to be taken seriously, Oscar Wilde once said. We have to find and keep our sense of humor. Make it a habit to think about something funny when we first get up in the morning and kept that in our thoughts through the day. Have a mantra that uplifts you in your mind at the start of the day and keep it in your mind for the rest of the day. When we can focus on humor and uplifting thoughts, the past and the future will fade. We can’t keep two thoughts in our minds at the same time. When we focus on positive and uplifting thoughts, negative and depression will fall away. It really is our choice.