One of the hardest things for us humans to do is bring from the past only what is beneficial for us in the present. It has been said history is the best predictor of the future. I’ve said it many times myself – because it’s often true.
Particularly in times of stress, we go on a sort of auto-pilot, and instinctively react to emotional triggers, rather than respond to what is actually before us, in the present. If someone has angered us in the past, they have a great chance of doing so even more quickly in the present. Why? Because our brains are wired to keep us on high-alert for potential threats or danger.
In order to know when to alert us, our brains rely on our history. It constantly scans for something similar to stressful, traumatic, highly emotional events from our past and then short circuits our logical brain the instant it lands on something familiar. Then we instinctively react as though what happened back then is happening again now.
Today, I’m reminding us all to take a page from Albert Einstein, who’s brilliance was rooted in responding only to what was actually before him in the present, and looking towards the possibilities of the future.
Pay attention to how you feel. Notice when you begin to get angry or aggitated, and just slow down. Take a deep breath, and one more. Are you responding to what is actually happening now, or are you responding to something from your past?
Your past need not define your present, and certainly not your future. Accept it for what it is – history. Good, bad, funny, angry, sad, unfair, glorious – it is all your history. Only a memory, no longer in front of you. Rather than expend energy on the past, invest it in the present.
For today, be who you intend to be. Be the person you want to be remembered as, when you are history. Your past got you to the present. Your present shapes your tomorrow.
For today, let’s do as Einstein suggested and “learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for the future.”