There are many times that arise when I want to be anywhere in the world except where I happen to be at. Sometimes I think about how different my life would be if I lived somewhere else. Sometimes I think about what it would take for me to move somewhere or do something in my life besides what I am currently doing. I also find myself spending a significant amount of time thinking about situations in which I have been in the past. I think about previous jobs and what would be different had I taken different opportunities. I think about how much I have enjoyed the various places I have lived and wonder how things would be if I had stayed in some of those places.
When I find my mind stuck in the past or projecting into the future I often start to have a variety of feelings. I feel sad because of opportunities I have passed up. I feel guilty at times because of jobs or friends I left when I moved away from various places. I even start to feel anxious when I allow myself to get stuck thinking about the future and where I might go and what I will do for a living when I move.
The truth is, we are not guaranteed any time besides right now. We certainly cannot go back and re-live situations from the past and we are not able to go into the future and see how things are going to be. If you struggle at times with anxiety and depression, living in the past or future will only serve to make your symptoms worse. There is a quote by Thich Nhat Hahn stating, “fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.” This quote can help us to be grounded at times when it is just too difficult to get our brain into the present. It reminds us that yesterday may not have been sunny and tomorrow may not be sunny, but right now, today, we can make adjustments to make sure we take advantage of the sun or to plan our day around finding meaningful activities that don’t involve the sun.
Today may not be ideal, but it allows us to have control over something and to be present in this moment so that we’re not stuck in the past or projecting into the future where we have no control. It helps us feel grounded and hopeful instead of hopeless and anxious and allows us to share this with others who may be having difficulties being present as well. Simply speaking, there is no time like now.