Living in the Present and Staying in the Game

It’s so often easy to let ourselves get caught up in the things that happen in our lives. We always seem to end up in one of two places, either thinking about the past or thinking about the future. And the thing about both of these places is that they cause us to end up frozen in the present.

When we’re thinking about the past we’re typically dwelling on a situation that we either wish we could live again OR that we wish we had done differently. When we’re thinking about the future it’s typically some form of anxiety or worry. Hoping for something to workout a certain way or uncertain of how things will happen.

What we don’t realize is that when we go to either of these places we actually drive our own mental cars into the ditch. We put ourselves in a situation where we have now become stuck. If you’ve ever actually had your car get stuck somewhere in a snowy or muddy ditch you know it takes a lot of effort to get it back out. Typically it takes some outside help, like a tow truck, to pull you back on to the road.

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In life, a lot of times we do this same thing. We get ourselves stuck in a ditch and we sit there waiting for the next tow truck to come along and pull us out. Waiting for the next thing to happen in life that will brighten our mood and get us out of that ditch so we can get back on the road.

But while we’re sitting in that ditch dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, everyone else’s car is driving right past us. The rest of the world keeps moving forward and what we fail to realize is all of the people that also get stuck in a ditch every now and then.

And that those that are happiest in life are the ones who know the tricks to getting themselves out of that ditch as quickly as possible so they can get back on the road.

That’s the key right there. Everybody falls into a ditch but the happiest people know how to get themselves out while the rest sit and wait for a tow truck.

So how do you get yourself out of that ditch on your own? The effort typically needed to get out of that ditch is so great. How can you ever match the strength and power of the tow truck to actually pull yourself out of that ditch?

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The secret is in realizing that you can only ever actually do anything in the present. Once you start to realize that you can only ever make a strategic move while in the present you understand that trying to do anything with the past or future is useless. You physically cannot make any changes to the past or future, understand that.

It’s sort of like the present is the basketball court or soccer field. The areas inside the field represent the present. All of the areas outside of the field, the fans on the sideline, the bench, the parking lot, everything outside of those lines is the area where you can’t actually play the game. They represent the past and future. You just simply can’t go to those areas outside of the field and actually make anything happen. It just doesn’t work that way.

photo cred: Victor Garcia

The way we take advantage of this is to get back onto the field or court and to just start doing things. Literally doing anything is still better than not being in the game at all. You have a better chance of winning if you are in the game than you ever will if you are on the sideline. If you’re on the sideline (stuck dwelling on the past or worrying about the future) you cannot make your situation better. You cannot get yourself out of the ditch.

BUT, if you put yourself into the game, you put yourself into the present and start doing things, you’ll find that suddenly you’re not stuck in the past or worrying about the future. You’ll find that suddenly, almost magically, you’ve pulled yourself out of that ditch and put yourself back onto the road without even realizing it.

So the next time you catch yourself feeling down about the past or worrying about the future go find something to do! Go for a walk, go read a book, go take a shower, go make a snack, go do something positive for yourself, or better yet someone else, and take action.

Take action in the present and get yourself back in the game.

Before you know it you’ll be out of that ditch and right back on the road.

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