Have you ever noticed that many of your greatest worries and anxieties are about things that might happen in the future? Most of our fears arise when we allow our minds to ruminate about past problems, future concerns, and imaginary outcomes… For example, when your spouse doesn’t answer the phone, or when you hear a bump in the middle of the night, it can be easy for your mind to jump straight to the worst-case scenario (they’re dead and someone’s breaking into your house.) In other words: we scare the shit out of ourselves on a regular basis about things that never end up happening! In fact, a 2019 study published in the journal Behavior Therapy says that 91% of the negative things people worry about never end up happening. But even if the rational part of your mind understands this, the emotional part of your mind may still feel worried and fearful. So, what can you do to quell these feelings? You can start by learning to live in the present moment.
Our peace of mind is, in large part, proportional to how often we’re able to live in the present moment. Regardless of what might’ve happened yesterday, last week, last month, or last year; and regardless of what might or might not happen tomorrow, the one thing you can always count on is the present moment—this moment, here and now, is all there is, all the time.
But so many of us are masters at worrying about everything BUT the now. We worry about the past. We fear the future. And we let both of them take up all our mental bandwidth in the present moment… And what does that get us? Depression. Hopelessness. Anger. Anxiety. This disorder, that disorder. And fear, fear, fear.
In addition to all of this, we postpone our happiness, our goals, and our dreams—often convincing ourselves that “someday” it’ll get better…
- Someday, you tell yourself, “I’ll start that business I’ve been dreaming about (but not right now, because of the economy).”
- Or, “Someday, I’ll take the family out on that nice vacation they’ve been asking for (but not right now, because I’ve got too much going on at work).”
- “Someday, I’ll get myself into shape (but I don’t have the time to start a workout routine right now).”
Sadly, that “someday” never comes because your brain keeps repeating the same rationale over and over again: the same mental gymnastics you play on yourself today, as you look towards the future and say, “Someday I’ll do X” will just keep on happening… Someday in the future, you’ll find yourself daydreaming about the same thing, and you’ll find yourself saying, for the umpteenth time, “Someday I’ll do X.”
The musician and activist John Lennon said that “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
When we’re busy making “other plans,” our kids are growing up.
When we’re busy making “other plans,” the people we love are passing away.
When we’re busy making “other plans,” our bodies are growing old and out of shape.
When we’re busy making “other plans,” our dreams are slowly slipping away.
While we’re busy making other plans, we miss out on life.
Too many folks end up dying without ever having really lived.
Don’t let that be you.
Many folks lead their lives as if it were some sort of perpetual dress rehearsal for some future date.
None of us know what the future holds. You and I don’t know whether we’ll still be around next week or even tomorrow. Not a single day is guaranteed.
The only time you own is NOW.
Now is the only time you and I have any control over.
And when we force our focus upon the present moment, we force our fears away at the same time.
What is fear anyway?
Fear is what we feel when we think about what might happen in the future…
For example, you might not have enough money to pay the mortgage, you might bomb on your next presentation, you might not have a job next month, your wife might leave you. You get the idea.
But here’s the thing: whatever you’re afraid might happen, hasn’t happened. So in reality, thinking about it isn’t going to help you… But here’s what will: bringing your attention to the present moment—to the now.
The best way to neutralize fear is to practice bringing your attention back to the present moment. Period.
As Mark Twain said, “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
Bottom line? Fear of failure is imaginary, your worries are an illusion. Most of the time what you fear won’t actually happen. And you can put your mind at ease by “catching” it every time it wanders off into worry-land, and then bringing it back to the present moment.
Let go of past failures. Let go of your fears about the future. Grab this moment by the horns and focus on what’s most important right now. It’ll pay off exponentially in every dimension of your life.