Past, Present or Future?

Past, Present or Future?

Someone recently said to me “Happiness lies in the now.”  This sentiment struck me as I have been striving to become more mindful, more tuned into the here and now. 

And I wondered, does happiness really lie in the “now”?

After thinking about this for a few days I have decided that contentment does live in the “now.”  And I think contentment lends itself to happiness.  I have also concluded that there is less stress when you focus on the “now.”  This is because, for me, worrying about all the things that might happen, cause me the greatest amount of stress. So, less stress, by focusing on the “now,” seems to lend itself to happiness.  Finally, I also think gratitude is more easily felt when you slow down and focus on the “now”.  The older I get, the more it seems that gratitude is the real secret to life.  So maybe it does follow that happiness does really reside in the “now.”

I have come to the realization I am very much a person who thinks in future tense.   I am constantly focused on what is coming next.   I am always planning the next step, examining possibilities, putting together contingencies and exit plans from my current location in space and time.  Other people I know are past tense people – they are stuck living in a world framed by past victories and past hurts.  But a few people in my acquaintance are the lucky ones; people who think, and live, in the present.

 Very few adults are naturally that way.  These “lucky ones” have re-trained themselves to live this way. 

I am convinced that we are born living in present tense.

 Infants and young children live in the here and now.  Hurts and disappointments are let go quickly, joys are fully experienced, the magic of the moment is expected.  As we age we quickly learn or are taught to be planners, to think in a future tense. While these skills serve a purpose, we risk missing our own lives, and our own potential, if we are not careful.

I have talked about meditating for years.  I have dabbled with the practice on and off many times.  I am a prayerful person, but mediation is something different I am finding.  It is whole different focus, a whole different brain state. And I think I am finally understanding that, for me, mediation is about taking time to get my focus into the here and now, to be open and aware of what is happening around me.  To be aware of time with my family.  To be aware of what I am eating and how I am treating my body. To let go of past hurts, failures or temporary definitions of what I could and could not do. 

To be “present tense.”


  • I have experienced the now, tried to repair the past, and planned every moment in the future before I read The Power of Now. I met and married my husband of 21 years after one date. We were in the service and finally 8 months after marriage we lived together for the first time. I woke up happy, got through a day happy, and ‘seemed’ to be so ‘Nowing it’. I was deliriously happy. He never spoke as he rushed out the door. I found my ‘now’ fading as he stated one morning you are just too happy to be normal. I learned I married a bipolar soul and ‘now’ has not always been a good place. My point is sometimes you have to reclaim your ‘now’ if others find it a hard place to be there with you. Greet the day with gratitude, fear only that ‘now’ fades and you must learn to keep it alive and well, keep faith that others find happiness in the now, and smile even when it feels forced. Thanks for this blog and a reminder I needed to go back and explore Eckhart Tolle during my times of stress or difficulties. Your stories are awrsome. Thanks Janelle.

  • Im glad to have found your site,for a women that seemed to not have much of a voice and yet the words you manage to get out always seemed wise..its great your talking and sharing your wisdom more.god bless

  • I agree. I am working on “being present”, and have been for some time. It is an ongoing challenge. I think the hard part is finding balance between living in the now AND planning for the future. I am blessed and grateful because for me, letting go of the past is easy. (LOL until someone reminds me of it!) I recently had a discussion about this very thing with my oldest child, now a grown man with children of his own. Encouraging him to let go of things that have already happened, learn from them, but let go of any negative emotions attached. We have a choice of how we react to things, CHOOSE to be positive. Now, as it turns out, I got the “yeah, yeah mom” until about a week later when Tom Brady, QB for the Patriots said the same thing - suddenly, it is the best advice ever. :) I truly believe there is something positive to take away from every situation, choosing to find that positive and be grateful for it is the road to happiness.


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