We live in the now, but we spend a lot of our time looking forwards or backwards. When we look backwards, we look with nostalgia or regret. When we look forwards, we look with hope or dread. The present often colors what we see in the future or the past. Our perception changes everything.
Focusing on the past or future can prevent us from living in the now, but the very same focus can also make now more bearable. Life is hard and the present moment can be so many things on the scale of good or bad. We can only feel happy, if we have felt sad. It is only through contrast that we can feel these emotions. When life is good, you would think that we would live in the now and be able to appreciate life fully, and yet our ability to appreciate the moment is thanks to our experiences in the past (particularly the bad ones) and our fear of the future – we know that happiness is transitory. When life is bad, we find hope in the future. We know that this moment will end and that things will be better.
One trick to getting through a difficult present that I have learned is to do things that my future self will be thankful for or that my past self would have liked. It tends to make me feel better, but if it doesn’t make me feel better, at least I have no regrets when I look back on it. Another trick is investing in my future self. If I cannot make now great, I can still make my future great.
Do not postpone your life because the present moment is not the best. Live now because right now is all you’ve got!