January’s a fine time for reflection. If you’re like most people, you probably use the New Year to look back on everything that’s changed over time and take stock of your personal progress.
Reflection is helpful, but focusing too deeply on the passing of time can also inhibit our growth. Ruminating on the painful moments of the past churns up feelings of depression or anger, while worrying about all the possibilities of the future keeps us poised in a state of anxiety. This is no way to spend our limited and precious moments on this planet!
Don’t allow your perception of time to keep you from enjoying your life or evolving as the person you want to be. Consider these five strategies for breaking free from the illusion of time.
1. APPRECIATE PAINFUL MEMORIES FROM THE PAST SO YOU CAN SET THEM FREE.
We all have memories we’d rather forget. Maybe they’re of mistakes we made, trauma we endured, or the hurtful actions of others.
There’s nothing wrong with remembering the past in order to learn from it. This is how wisdom is formed. Each of us must take risks and fail repeatedly to become the happiest, greatest, most compassionate versions of ourselves.
Remembering becomes harmful, however, when we continue to revisit the past after we’ve already learned everything we can from it. No amount of thinking can change what’s already transpired. Punishing ourselves with sadness can feel like the right response to negative events, but we must eventually come to terms with what happened and move on.
Much of your pain can be used as fuel for your personal development, so appreciate each of your mistakes, failures, and dark moments for the lessons they’ve taught you. Then liberate yourself to find peace. Do what you have to do to drop all fear, anger, and regret arising from the past.
2. EASE WORRIES ABOUT THE FUTURE BY TAKING CONTROL OF THE PRESENT.
It’s easy to perceive the future as an amorphous eventuality that’s unpredictable and altogether out of our control. Most of the time, however, this isn’t the case. What we become in the future depends largely on what we do in the now.
Mindfulness is your ally here. Unplug from the endless cycle of your personal thought patterns and pay attention to how you’re spending your time. Are you spending the valuable moments of our life marinating in thoughts that make you feel bad or stop you from working toward meaningful achievements?
If this is the case, you’re shooting yourself in the foot and setting the blueprints for an unhappy future. Studies of neuroplasticity suggest that our brains continuously rewire themselves according to the content of our thoughts. Staying positive and focusing on making beneficial moves in the present will help you set neural pathways for a happier mindset in the future.
Stop wasting the present moment on thoughts and actions that go against your goals. When you set the elements of your reality in alignment with what you’re trying to achieve, you’ll gear yourself toward success.
3. SNUGGLE INTO THE NOW.
Spiritual folk often say that now is all we have, and nothing could be truer. The present moment is the only thing our consciousness will ever experience.
Many people find it difficult or uncomfortable to mentally engage with the present for a number of reasons. It’s important to learn to find contentment, gratitude, and inspiration in this moment. If we wait for happiness to magically arrive at some point in the future, we will wait our whole lives for the permission and freedom to enjoy ourselves.
Every moment we’re alive, we’re helping to drive the story of existence right as it unfolds. Life in our universe is the only party, scene, or happening that’s ever been real, and you’re on the guest list. Regardless of how great or terrible things are going for you personally at this time, you’re HERE. Is that not cause to smile and celebrate each day?
Be awake for your conscious experience. Feel and notice the present fully. The visceral and raw nature of life can be painful and make us want to shut our minds off to the world, but if we do so then we also miss the beauty and sacredness that envelops us at all times. To make the most of our time here and feel happiness, we must stay in touch with the now.
4. DON’T ALLOW IDEAS ABOUT AGE TO HOLD YOU BACK.
Optimism, health, and innovation are for whippersnappers. Once you’ve made your way ‘over the hill,’ it’s time to slow down, get in line, and accept any aches and pains that come your way. Right? Right. Now get off my lawn!
We hear views like this throughout our lives, and it’s hard not to let them influence our state of mind. Indeed, no one is immortal, and it’s true that we’ll all run into challenges as we age and our bodies change.
That said, there’s no use in inviting ideas about aging to bog us down or dim our own expectations for ourselves. We will each experience our own process of getting older, but it will be unique to us, rather than aligning perfectly with the experiences of others. And again, what we do in the now will directly impact our future. There are always positive choices we can make to better our situations.
Are you 30 going on 85? Or can you position your mindset in a way that will allow you to draw from the youthful well of inspiration well into your later years? Don’t accept the idea that your body and mind will automatically go stale.
5. EXPERIENCE REALITY AS A CHILD DOES.
Young children live in the present. They’re emotionally available and always paying attention to the energy around them. For them, two hours may as well be a millennium. The wait for birthdays or play dates with friends seems to last a lifetime.
As adults, we tend to stop working this way. We no longer connect with the present, but instead become caught in the illusion of time, falsely feeling that it speeds up the older we get.
Take a lesson from the children of the world and heed the energy that surrounds and swirls within you in each moment. Give your attention to what’s happening in front of you, rather than allowing the now to pass you by. This will help slow down the invisible clock.
Make time your ally this year, rather than aiding it in working against you. The present moment is here to serve you, and it’s your birthright to make the most of it.