I Can’t Look Forward to Things

Before I write anything I need to apologise to those that subscribe to this blog. Last night we were working on the site and sent out a post which was not supposed to be published. As you saw, it was a very rough draft, full of typos and just some ideas for a future blog post. So my apologies if you thought… huh? 🙂

Recently I was having a conversation with somebody about Mindfulness, staying in the present moment, the now etc. They said that this misses the point of life because it essentially means that you cannot look forward to things. This response is quite common when people first look at this particular approach.

Another point that was made was that to be human you have to go through ‘ups and downs’. So if you’re stuck in traffic it’s only natural that you get annoyed or frustrated.

Both of these points are linked. Of course, nobody is suggesting that we can’t look forward to anything. We can and we should! The real issue arises when we use something in the future to miss out on the now. It’s like hating Monday mornings and looking forward to the weekend. If that’s how you live your life then you’re wasting five days out of seven.

You may not be aware of it but we’re stuck in a perpetual cycle in the time we’re living in right now. Consumerism seems to be ever increasing. We are all affected by advertising. Good advertising creates anxiety. It tells you that your life is not complete without this product. And the only way to relieve that anxiety is to buy the product! How often do you see people wanting the latest phone, or shoes, or something? On the surface the immediate response is, ‘why not?’ If it makes you happy and you can afford it, go for it. True? Well, again partly. The issue becomes that when you get this product nothing has changed in your life and whatever makes you feel down or takes your energy is still there. So what do you do? You then want something else. And so the cycle continues of endless buying and chasing and all that happens is that nothing is changing for you except you’re spending money.

The second issue is regarding feeling down. It certainly is part of life and something we should all experience. There’s nothing wrong with it because it’s natural. I do get annoyed when I hear “gurus” say that happiness is a choice and they fail to really explain themselves.

If you are stuck in traffic and you’re frustrated then you certainly do choose to feel that. The frustration is in between your ears, nowhere else. All you need is a shift in perspective. How fortunate enough are you to be in a vehicle and even be alive. Are there people better off than you? Most certainly, but there are others much worse off than you.

In my teens I was fortunate enough to meet a great bunch of people. Some had disabilities. During that time a number of them died due to complications arising from their physical issues. I’ll never forget them because the world is full of people that died far too young. What they would have given to be stuck in traffic 30 years later. This is what I think of when I am facing a “problem”. That is the choice you make and which determines whether you are happy or sad. It isn’t the traffic, it’s how you react to being stuck in it. Or sometimes I ask myself how relevant will this moment be in a year’s time? In this regard, the gurus are right, if you want to be angry and frustrated, then the only person suffering is you.

If a loved one dies then of course you’re going to be sad! That does not feel good to say the least but it’s a process we all go through. Sure we can also apply how we choose to react to the loss. We can remember how lucky we are that we knew them and all sorts of things like that. But do not fear feeling sad and distraught about it. You’re supposed to because that is what these feelings are for.

This all ties together when you realise that life can be looked at in a linear fashion. It begins at one end and finishes at the other. Like a piece of string (or a box a chocolates as Forest Gump once said). Every millimetre on that piece of string is a moment, a day in your life. Life is not about what you accumulate for ‘the end’ or the weekends, life is about right now. We have probably all known somebody that was looking forward to retirement filled with plans, then they died shortly after finishing work.

Don’t chase your tail, look forward to the weekend and your next big trip. But don’t forget today. The weekend will be over and sooner rather than later you’ll be back from your holiday. Use every day and try different perspectives. You can choose to be miserable if you like, but the only person who’ll be suffering is you. Be happy, there are plenty of reasons to be.