This is a habit most of us do on a regular basis.
I call it Time Travelling.
I find it funny how people constantly theorize and try to find new ways in which we can physically travel through space and time when psychologically most of us are never present in the moment.
- Time travelling to the past
We dwell a lot on past events and regrets.
“I could have done better in that situation”
“I wished I knew then what I know now”
“If only I did things differently back then”
“I should have her/him how much they mean to me”
“Ah this was such a waste of time, I will never get it back now”
These feelings are good if you want to give yourself some feedback, learn and move on with your life in new adventures and challenges. But some people get defeated by these thoughts, we get angry and restless, we can’t accept reality, we can’t accept that we messed up or got screwed over. Regret is a heavy burden to carry. The regret of not doing things or knowing the best scenario when it mattered the most is like an anchor chained around our necks. We can’t move forward. We don’t enjoy the present moment and we definitely don’t see a bright future ahead. Human beings have a very linear way of thinking. Get from A->B. If that fails, we sink into the idea that we are failures and anxiety kicks in. Sometimes we can barely find a reason to get out of bed. Our minds are constantly tired. What we need to do is train our minds to have a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset. Nothing is ever set in stone. And even if you cannot change past events you can change who you are in the present moment and how your actions will dictate your life path from now on.
- Time travelling to the future
I used to be guilty of this. I believe I have under my belt a lot of years in which I lived in an alternative timeline somewhere in the future. I would always be crippled of where my actions would lead me down the path of developing myself. We suffer a lot from FOMO. What if we choose one option wrong and we go down a rabbit hole of failures, shame and loneliness. A lot of young teenagers are faced with this situation. They are put in the situation of choosing a career path at 16-18 and this freezes them.
What if I choose wrong and hate my life?
What if I will not be able to find a job and become homeless?
What if will not choose what I’m best at? What am I best at actually?
What if I start a business and end up living under a bridge?
I can’t seem to find anyone good for me. Will I die alone and unhappy?
The predecessor of regret is doubt. Doubting yourself. Not being able to make a choice and living up to it. Being in a constant state of numbness, because it’s easier to not make any move and be “OK” than making a move and risking “Disaster”.
The funny part is that most of these problems are in our head. They don’t really exist and even if they are somewhat true, in reality they are never as bad as we predict them to be. Furthermore, focusing on what can go wrong usually attracts exactly that. Especially intelligent people with IQ above average are guilty of this because they over-analyze everything trying to internally prove their wits to themselves and predict what the future would be like. But this almost always cancels any drive to take action in actually building the future you want for yourself.
- How to live in the present moment
Some of the methods that I’ve seen had worked for me are the following.
- Working out. Either you run a marathon or lift heavy weights it will have the same impact. The pain of physical activity will clear your mind of any other distraction and make you more self-aware of your body and your present state. Yoga in the 1930’s used to be solely a meditation technique. But now most people think of it as body stretching. It was combined together with physical activity exactly of this point, because in the moment you take a pose and your whole muscles work together you clear your mind and you are brought again into the present moment.
- Meditate. As mentioned above this helps you in calming down your mind that is constantly in a race. I prefer to do body awareness meditation. The simplest method to start with is focusing on your breath for 5 minutes while sitting on a chair with your back straight listening to some piano music. Every time your attention drifts away you bring it back to the present moment by focusing on your breath (deep inhale, relaxed exhale). It might be difficult at the beginning but once you master this 5 minute technique you can explore more complex methods that work for you. I have friends who even meditate 40 minutes in a session but for me that’s too much and it actually brings the opposite effect. I usually try to do it 10 minutes per day every evening.
- Meet new people. Think about it. Every time you are introduced to someone new you are very self aware of your body position, your handshake, what is the most interesting thing you can say about yourself. Doing this also helps you do a check-up on yourself if you are moving in the direction you want. I try to meet a new person each day. It was scary at first, but now it has become my own personal rush.
- Disconnect from the digital world. Close your laptop. Leave your phone at home and go take a random walk in a park or go biking on a forest trail. Look around. Admire the nature around you and listen to the wind gushing through the leaves, notice the beauty that lies before your eyes, breathe in the fresh air. Steve Jobs used to take 1 hour long walks by himself to clear his mind and come up with his best ideas. Although technology has brought us closer than ever it also disconnected us from what feeds us the most of human beings, nature. Embrace it once in a while. It will do wonders.
- Move away from toxic people. There are people around you that are just a bad influence on you. They either bum you down constantly or judge every move you make. Move away from them. Relationships should be based on bringing value and support to one another. If you don’t have that go find it somewhere else. It’s better to be alone than surrounded by the wrong company.