We exist only in the present, and we need to learn to live in the present. We can’t affect the past, and we have no way of knowing what effect we may have on the future. We need to do our living today, concentrate on the present moment — on doing the next right thing — and let the future take care of itself. If we are always thinking about tomorrow, next week, next year — the next raise, romance, promotion or what have you, we are unlikely to do well at work, love, or life in general.
Every change we make in our lives affects the future, sometimes in big ways, and sometimes in small ones. I can’t know whether failing to buy new shoelaces today will result in a dangerous fall tomorrow.
I might end up simply walking around with an untied shoe, or with some kind of weird knot instead of a bow. But I can keep track of what is happening at the moment, and perhaps I’ll remember to get new laces at the market while I’m buying groceries. Letting my thoughts flounder around in the imaginary future gains me nothing but worries and mends no laces.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t plan. But we do our planning today, as best we can, and then concentrate on the next thing happening instead of unknowns that may not happen, and over which we have no control. Making our changes mindfully also makes it easier to accept “The things we cannot change,” because we’re doing so thoughtfully instead of our thoughts being dragged hither and yon by our head monsters. We may even gain some insight and find that those things were less problematic than we believed.
Staying “in the now” gives us the insight and power that we need to live our lives. Tomorrow we can choose new goals and direction if we wish, but we can’t make tomorrow’s decisions today. If we are mindful of what is going on right here, right now and focus on reality, not dread and daydreams, we will begin tomorrow with the understanding needed to meet its demands.