I recently had a groundbreaking 'revelation' in my realization that life should be lived one day at a time. One day at a time, one moment at a time, one stage at a time, one something at a time. Pick a time frame appropriate for the task at hand. I have been acutely aware of the wandering of my mind from present to past to future, and so I have been better able to control that wandering. I have been able to lead my mind to pleasant and present thoughts. Dwelling in the past often brings me thoughts of embarrassment or wishful thinking to change things already done; and dreaming of the future often brings me unnecessarily anxious thoughts of anticipation or fear or whatever. All of those emotions based in past and future I find to be generally unpleasant ones as they are typically falsified by embellishment of the creative imagination. I prefer truth in life, generally--if you can find beauty and joy in truth as opposed to bleak sadness or other emotions. I don't need to falsify life's happenings.
By living in a present time frame, I find my happiness has been much more constant and steady. I have fewer ups and downs, and definitely less downs. When I do live in the past or future, I do so with some sense of awareness. I am cautious when I think outside the present moment. Living in the present has led me to take action. Actions really do speak louder than words (more on this in my next post). I spend more time really doing what I want, and doing what I want typically brings me happiness. You can have all the brains in the world, but it's what you do with them that matters.
So know what you want, and do what you want. It's okay to not always know what you want though. If you don't know what you want, make your time frame smaller. If you don't know what you want for your career, focus on what you want for the year ahead. If you don't know what your goals are for the year, limit yourself to thinking about what you want for the month or what you want for one day. Do this for each activity in your life--your career, your projects, your weight loss, your thinking. Just choose a time frame that feels doable and appropriate. If its not doable, you won't do it. Duh. Eventually, you will live in the moment and see clearly all the choices before you at every second. When you are aware of those choices, you are better able to act in a way that will bring you happiness.
"I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It's amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor." --D.H. Lawrence
Here is a webpage with some quotes I like about past, present, and future.
Now quit thinking about this crap and go shred some oranges! One day at a time.