There are only two constants in life: change and thinking.
Whether you realize it or not, your mind is constantly running. It is thinking about the future, reminiscing on the past, and only when necessary, focusing on what is directly in front of it.
This is the mind’s only flaw: it struggles to stay in the present, instead spending its time focusing on what could happen in the future or what has already happened in the past. It cannot focus on what is directly in front of it unless it has no choice.
How hard is it for you to focus when you sit down to work on something? When you were in school taking a test, how often did your mind wander to other things? If you’re writing a long paper, are you able to get in the zone easily, or are you constantly distracted by other things?
The mind is amazing and when put to the test, can do amazing things. Its ability to constantly churn, analyze, and connect dots allows us to reach unthinkable destinations.
For the mind to get to this place, though, it takes incredible strength on the part of the user (a.k.a, you).
Life is Full of Situations, Not Problems
This little difference in phrasing can open your mind to new possibilities
Do you like to run or do any sort of challenging exercise? In the early stages of a workout, our body is challenged but feels good and keeps pushing. At a certain point, though, your mind sets a hard line in the sand. It tells you, “Stop! This is your limitation. You must stop or we are in trouble!”
It is easy to give in to the mind in these situations. Your mind is full of fear, constantly aware of what could hurt or kill it. It is not afraid of telling you when it feels scared.
Over-ruling the mind and continuing your workout should show you all you need to know about just how little the mind actually knows. Your body may feel tired, sure. But most of the time, you are capable of running way further or doing another set of squats. When your body is truly at its limit, you will know.
In the act of exercise, it is very easy to over-rule the mind— once you’ve figured out just how weak it is. In other disciplines, however, it isn’t as easy.
With the level of consciousness humans have, we are able to step outside of the present moment, analyzing past behaviors and actions, as well as project what is possible in the future.
Being able to think about the past and future is good. We should be looking to our past as a guideline for what to do and what not to do moving forward. We should be looking at our future to figure out what challenges we may face and how we can prepare for them at this point in time.
Doing too much of this kind of thinking is not good for us, however.
When we are thinking too much of the past or future, we are paralyzed — suspending ourselves in a state of uncertainly and limiting our ability to naturally move forward.
To this point in my life, overcoming the mind has been my toughest challenge yet. The amount of sleep and peace of mind I have lost as I froze myself in time thinking of future possibilities is scary to think about.
As a young person that didn’t have a super eventful upbringing, I rarely find myself lost in the past. But if you find yourself reminiscing on those good and bad times, find meaning in those thoughts. Otherwise, you are wasting your time.
Your past actions don’t reflect who you are today. Who you are today reflects who you are today.
Projecting the future is where the most time is lost. It feels impossible not to think about the future — “When will I get married? What kind of work will I do? How am I going to handle this challenge if it presents itself?”
Focusing on the present moment can answer all of these questions. If you are constantly focused on the future, you will slow yourself down in getting to it. Today has everything you need. Work for today, not tomorrow, and your tomorrow will be much better than you could ever imagine.
Instead of focusing on the reality that we live in every day, we walk around in a state of malaise, stuck in our heads, thinking. Focus on the present moment and let the universe solve your problems. Most of the time, those potential roadblocks never even get in your way.
Stop thinking about them and they may never see the light of day. If they do, your present self will be more than capable of handling them.