When I think of the past, present and future, three things (or movies I should say) immediately come to my mind: The Lion king, Groundhog Day and A Christmas Carol. Random yes, but very significant. The Lion King tells the story about a young lion named Simba who has a painful past who learns to accept it. In Groundhog day there is a man who is stuck living the same day on a loop needing to re examine his life and priorities. Lastly there is a Christmas Story, which shows us how a bitter old miser transforms into a kind, gentle man. What is the common theme here? They all represent how the past, present and future has an effect in making or breaking a person.
These realities encompass our everyday lives. The past is where we’ve come from and what we’ve done, the present is who we are now and the future is who we want to be. Putting it that way makes it seem simplistic, but overall these three realities can be troublesome to everyone. Here are tips on how to handle these three realities and how to live a happy successful life.
- Let go
The past definitely plays a huge role in our life as it’s our story. It dictates where we came from and what we’ve been through. Although it’s your story, it shouldn’t define who you are now. Having memories and mementos is nice but if you are constantly looking to your past in a negative regretful way you will never be at peace. The past is done, it cannot be changed. This is why it’s important to accept it and move on.
- Learn from your mistakes
The wonderful Nelson Mandela said “I never lose, I either win or learn”. This is something we all need to keep in mind when we make mistakes. Things may never go our way and we may make bad decision in our lifetime but we shouldn’t feel guilty or constantly think about the mistakes we’ve made. The important thing is to learn from it and move on.
- Have self-compassion
We are all human which means we are not perfect. We make mistakes all of the time, but in addition to learning from our mistakes we must have self-compassion for ourselves. Everyone is always concerned about treating others well but then they forget about ourselves. We are our own worst enemy at times and forget to cut ourselves some slack. Yes loving others is important but we need to love ourselves first.
- Live in the now
People are always reading about how they can be happy in the future, but the truth is you can be happy right now in this moment . Life is what we make it, so why not live in the present and truly enjoy every moment without worrying about the past and future. Mindfulness is an important practice everyone should encompass in their everyday lives. I highly recommend reading books by Thich Nhat Hahn as he has great insight on how to be mindful in everyday activities and how to truly live and be happy in the present.
- Don’t take anything for granted
Be grateful for what you have. Hyman Schachtel said “Happiness is not having what you want but wanting what you have” and this is so true. We often take for granted what we have because it becomes part of our daily routine, but it is important to stop and appreciate all of the things you have instead of focusing on what you don’t have. It will truly change your outlook and allow you to be more positive
- Applaud yourself for who you are now
We’ve come a long way to be who we are today. Sure we haven’t been perfect but there must be times that we have succeeded and overcome obstacles. Applaud yourself for your success and be happy about who you are. If you’re not happy about who you are, look for ways to change.
- Write down your hopes and dreams
We all have dreams, and by writing them down allows us to plan for our future with the hope of making our dreams a reality. One way people do this is write a bucket list of all the things they want to do before they’re 100. I highly recommend doing this with another person, it always makes for a good conversation!
- Set goals
Goal setting is very important for everyone to do. Without concrete realistic goals to achieve we can put ourselves in a rut. Instead of a New Year’s resolution for the year, have 1-3 goals you want to achieve each month. You can even try to have a long term goal but the key with goals is you need to have a deadline and they need to be realistic. Keeping a journal or your goals and tracking your progress is helpful.
- Be organized
You can’t accomplish everything all at once, but by being organized and having a plan you can be successful in achieving your goals and dreams. Look to others to help keep you motivated, and look for opportunities as they arise. If you’re organized you will more likely accomplish your goals and reach your full potential. You don’t want to look back on your life regretting what you did not do, so plan now and organize your life and your priorities. You will be happy you did.
We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences but all and all we all want the same things, a happy fulfilled life. Simba, Phil Connors and Ebenezer Scrooge all found a way to accomplish their goals and find success and we can too. It’s all about changing perspective and taking advantage of all opportunities that come our way.