People are always telling me about how bad their life is. What they mean is: so far they have made the kinds of choices that have lead to a life that wobbles between unpleasant and tolerable, with occasional spikes into worthwhile and deeply rewarding. But you can spend way more time intentionally feeling much better about your life if you know how.
The mistake people make is that they spend most of their lives wishing for a different and better situation than they’re currently in, and they justify that useless fantasy by telling themselves that it might have really happened if your past had gone differently than it did. Well your past didn’t go that way so—as I’ve said before—if you’re aunt was a man she’d be your uncle. There’s no point in discussing ifs. It’s what is that counts.
So imagine there’s a bunch of different souls of you, and they take turns running your current body through the universe. So imagine we’re at soul three, going into four. (the Dalai Lama’s at 14!) The old soul—the one that has the endured the most recent experiences and that has collected the the most recent wisdom—s/he leaves the body and the new you jumps in. BAM. You’re suddenly the physical, live version of you for the very first time. It’s all new to you. Really basic stuff would be fun because it would be just like your first time. It would be like being each previous version of you for a short while before you caught up to who you are today. Hot, wet, funny, celery, dogs. It would be amazing to experience those things with five senses for the first time again. But the best part? Each successive soul leaves their wisdom behind! I know! It’s crazy what a great deal that is but that’s what happens. You step in fresh and you get all of their knowledge, wisdom and experience. Get ready to rock.
Can you imagine that? You’re free. Clear. Yes, you have those memories within your brain, but the old you doesn’t hang around to explain your history because all you really need is the wisdom. So you would just move forward with clear-headed, open and aware innocence. You’d be a genius. And you always can be. You just have to shut down your judgmental, opinionated mind and stop returning to/recreating past dramas in your imagination. Your past is not now. It’s what you do now that will build your future. So don’t waste that opportunity by lamenting where you wish you could have been or on what might have happened. Instead fully live the life you’ve chosen so far, but do it more wholeheartedly. See it for what it is: an opportunity to be alive. You’ll realize what a privilege it is when you feel your death approaching.
Each morning, step out of bed and remind yourself that these are early days for this new you. Feel the surfaces under your feet. Smell the air. Make eye contact with pets as though you’re truly getting to know them for the first time. Taste your beverage like you’ve never had liquid in your mouth before. Be fully alive. Remind yourself that you have been asleep, your predecessor has departed and you have awoken into this life. There is no need for historical thinking. You can simply move forward with a quiet mind in the present moment, and if you feel compelled to think about anything, it’s your future.
Your past does not dictate how well your life will turn out. It is moment to moment decisions that ripple out into effects on a moment to moment basis. So your future isn’t mapped and decided—your past is irrelevant. Just be in the moment you’re in and make the choice that feels right. Because this new you has nothing else to go on but feel. So go for it. It’s a lot less work than all the guessing and planning and speculating and worrying that you were doing before. And it will leave you more aware and awake to enjoy the incredible life that will come from trusting yourself. Because in the end, where you end up matters way less than who’s present when you get there. Have a great day.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.