Living in the Future

living in the futureI have always found it useful to follow the adage, “live in the present”. Focusing on my life as it is right now helps me to make the most of my time, and to appreciate each moment, noticing and admiring the world instead of obsessing about the future. For the most part, this life choice has had an extremely positive affect on my life. However, what happens when things go wrong in my life? What about those times when I’m feeling hurt or dealing with a problem? For moments like these, I like to instead be “living in the future”.

Contextualize Stress

One way that I’ve found really helps me to contextualize and manage my stress is to think about what these problems will feel like in the future. I say to myself, “how am I likely to feel about this in a year? A month? A week even?” When I can look at my future self, I imagine that she has grown and learned from her disadvantages and setbacks. There has never been a problem that I have been unable to overcome emotionally to some degree, and so I have faith in my ability to deal with my sadness in time.

Living In The Future: Where To Start

As a starting point to living in the future, try to think back to a similar problem that you have had, and remember what it felt like to be bothered by it. Remember how impossible it seemed in that moment, and now look at the way you deal with it now. It may be that you barely even remember the problem, or that you feel better about yourself for having dealt with it. Another good place to start is to remember a time when you were completely happy, not dealing with any problems. When thinking about yourself in this state, it is easier to acknowledge that there were imperfections in life, and that you had at some point dealt with stress, but you still managed to make it to that happy place!

Now Be “In The Now”!

Because I believe in my own capacity to manage stress based on my past and my perceived future, I can calm myself down in the present. Using this method of contextualizing my problems on a scale larger than the here and now, I can “free up” so to speak, my thoughts about the present. I am by no means suggesting that we ought to push off dealing with our problems for living in the future. Instead, I am suggesting that we can be more clear-headed when managing our stress when we realize that there will come a time when we won’t be as troubled by these same problems. Maybe, even, we can look back at our stresses in the present and feel good about ourselves for having learned something new and important about ourselves.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

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