At an inspiring workshop last weekend, clinical psychologist, Dr. Lee Pulos spoke about how our beliefs about the past and future influence our enjoyment of the present. He showed us how visualization of a positive future is a key to success in life.
Dr. Pulos is an expert on success. He’s presented motivational seminars to many organizations and businesses, counselled elite athletes and served as sports psychologist to world class teams.
In our conventional thinking, we see our present as the consequence of the past. That’s how most of us see reality: who we are and what we have are the products of our past experiences and actions.
He explained how the future really creates the present.
There are many potential futures. The most successful people have acquired the habit of setting ambitious goals for themselves. They visualize a positive future that is clear and compelling.
This provides a blueprint and the motivation to move towards that positive vision, and that future will become our present.
He asked us to imagine ourselves as passengers on a grand and bountiful cruise ship. On board we have a wealth of interesting people, a variety of entertainment and a vast choice of food to enjoy. We can hop off the ship at every shore and enjoy the beauty and culture of destinations around the world.
But many of us tow behind us a barge loaded with junk from the past.
The weight of that junk slows us down and prevents us from sailing forward. When we ruminate – recycling the same old thoughts about our most negative experiences, we actually spend more time on that rusty old barge of the past while we could be enjoying what is present on the grand cruise ship.
As you sail through your life, how much time do you spend enjoying cruising through the present? How much time are you spending on the rusty old barge of the past? Do you need to hop off the barge, cut off the line and set free the old useless junk of the past? That can be one way to set your self free to enjoy more fully the present.
Are there negative experiences in the past you keep rehashing? By replaying the same scenes over and over again, we bring the past back into the present. It becomes a habit of thought that prevents you from seeing yourself, others and your world any differently. It contracts your vision and therefore limits your capacity for happiness and success.
Too often we replay negative soundtracks from the past. Listening to the oldies is nice if that puts you in a positive mood, but too often the negative words you heard in the past can become the monologue of negative self-talk in the present, feeding feelings of misery, inadequacy, victimhood and anger. None of this enriches your present or empowers you to work for a better future.
You can’t change the past, but you can choose your thoughts – how you think of your past and how much time you choose to spend there while actually living in the present. Look around and enjoy what is good and be mindful and kind to the people in your life today before they drift off into your past.