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Stop Living In Past And Future For A Happy Life

To have a happy life learn to live in the present. But unfortunately we all are living in past regrets or old glory or fear of future. If you wish to be happy stop living in past and future.

Some people are so engaged with the images of past or future that one finds them, in their quiet moments, talking to themselves — arguing, appreciating, contradicting, chiding or encouraging the invisible people, or the situations arising out of such interactions. They live in the company of past or future, swinging between the two. Though present in the present moment, they are actually living in the past or future.

Past, present and future, in reality, are three modes of thinking. All thinking takes
place in time. We think of past, reflect over what happened, regret or feel elated, sigh at the days gone by, mull over the things that occurred. Or think of the future — imagining what will happen, visualizing ourselves in various situations or with people and objects and places, feeling happy or anxious about them. Past and future, most of our time is spent thinking about them.

What about the present moment? There is a fascinating fact about the present moment. While everything happens in present and later becomes past or will determine future, we hardly pay attention to it. The present is a much neglected moment. So busy with past and future we are, engulfed with the thoughts of past events or building castles about future, that we lose hold over the present. Nor do we question this tendency of ours. We are generally busy with activities, with whatever seems to pass before us, little caring about such inner checks.

Cautioning against this tendency, Adi Shankaracharya, in his famous Bhaja Govindam, says, Childhood skips off in sport and play. Youth flies off in pursuits of love-making. As one grows older he is drowned in worry about the security and future of his wife and children. One’s whole life gets spent in some kind of worry or other. And at no stage does man find time to lift his thoughts to God.

One can think of God, or the divinity within, only if one frees oneself from the burden of past-future combine. Or is it that one should think of the ever-present reality of divinity in order to be free from the past-future combine!

Why are we so attached to these two, leaving aside the present moment? The main reason is our attachment to sense objects and desires. Our ordinary life is a bundle of sensory experiences. We eat, drink, sleep, bathe, dress up, walk up, and interact with people and so on. But our experiences do not end here. They go deep into our minds, forging a mental bond, a kind of like and dislike for what we experience. Called in Sanskrit Raga and Dvesha, like and dislike—or attraction and aversion, or feeling attached to the pleasant and repulsed with unpleasant—keep us occupied with our past and future. The stronger the likes and dislikes, the greater is our preoccupation with them — recalling the past experiences and seeking or fiddling with future possibilities. And greater is the suffering.

Being in the present moment is indeed a glorious thing to do. For, in Swami Vivekananda’s words, ‘we are what our thoughts have made us; so take care of what you think.’ We need to let go what happened. Regret never changes things. We should learn our lessons, and learn them well, and move on. There is no good in thinking about the past. The more we think of a thing, the more we get caught in it. To be in the present is to be alert and in living in the most real reality. Past is a foregone reality and future is yet to become real. It is present alone which is practically real. So, one must live in the present. 

SourceVedanta Kesari Editorial March 2015