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What keeps you from truly thriving and enjoying life now? Be sure you manage three perspectives and capitalize on the one that works.

The present moment is the only guarantee you have for living, so it’s important to manage it well.  Unfortunately, you can find yourself caught up in the past, future, or both and miss the opportunities in the present moment.

I love this quote by Jean-Pierre De Caussade (1675-1751), a French Jesuit priest who wrote the work “The Sacrament of the Present Moment,” also known as “Abandonment to Divine Providence.”

To observe the “discipline of living in the present moment” is to accept one’s present situation and find satisfaction and peace in the now.  This is distinguished from attitudes of restlessness and dissatisfaction, worry about the future, or discouragement and regret about the past.  By trusting in God now and allowing the present to be enjoyed, greater happiness and peace is possible.

Living in the present moment involves these things.

  • Give focused attention to who or what is around you. Observe the details, focusing on one thing or person at a time.
  • Connect with people who are supportive and positive.
  • Stop trying to fix so many things and people.
    • Avoid shoulds and oughts. In his book Feeling Great, David Burns notes that should statements are a way to beat up on self, others, or the world with shoulds, shouldn’ts, musts, ought tos, and have tos.
      • Self-directed Shoulds lead to feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety, depression, and inadequacy.
      • Other-directed Shoulds lead to feelings of anger and resentment, leading to conflict.
      • World-directed Shoulds create feelings of frustration and exasperation.
    • Be grateful for people and things as they are.
  • Practice breathing deeply.
  • Take a break from social media (or avoid it altogether) and technology.

Actions in the present moment are best when they do these things

  • Focus on something bigger than yourself. Hold to Thomas Merton’s statement, “To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell.” — Thomas Merton in No Man is an Island
  • Do something useful to create value for others or your mission and goals.
  • Connect with Others. Meaningful and supportive relationships are a big key to health and making a difference in the world.  Help others to feel valued, capable, loved, respected, and appreciated.  Let them do this for you as well.
  • Invest in Your Health, including the physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of your being.

What Can You Do with the Future and the Past?

Glance at the future with these things in mind.

  • Plan for it, but hold your plans loosely because things will change, and the next moment is not guaranteed.
  • Don’t waste time and energy on worry. Wait until there is something concrete to worry about.
  • Be hopeful about the possibilities that the future may hold.

Learn and Grow from the Past:

  • Enjoy the treasured memories of the past.
  • Reflect on the past to learn, but don’t let it consume you. Learn from experiences.  Remember that sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways (Proverbs. 20:30 GNT).
  • Make amends when needed.
  • Use it to benefit others. When welcomed, you can give others a chance to learn vicariously from your experience.

There are several versions of this quote, and I’m not sure where this one comes from, but I think it pretty much sums it up.

Most people are crucified between two thieves, guilt about the past and worry about the future, either of which can rob you of a perfectly good life in the present.

Managing your focus on the present, future, and past can enrich your life or cripple you.  At True Course we can help you manage these perspectives in ways that create the environment you need to thrive and make a difference in your world.

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De Cassaude, Jean Pierre (1989).   The sacrament of the present moment.  San Francisco: Harper; Reissue edition  Translated by Kitty Muggeridge  (May 3, 1989)

Burns, David (2020). Feeling great. Eau Clair, WI: PESI Publishing and Media (Kindle edition, p. 446).

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