My dad and mom left me many great memories. I hear them every day. I see them in myself, my siblings, and my children. One of the finest compliments someone can give me is to say they can see my dad or my mom in me. Most of the tools I have used throughout my life came from them. I am proud to be their son.
Yet, one of the pearls they gave me was,
“It’s okay to visit the past-- just don’t set up your tent and live there!” The more I study, the more I see different versions of this same concept. And the more I learn, the more I see how critical this is to having success in any area of my life.
It is great to have fond memories. Learning from our mistakes is crucial. History does repeat itself, so studying it is important. But our individual mindsets toward the past can be crippling.
We know we want our mindsets to be expansive rather than contractive. If we dwell in the past or use the past incorrectly, we can stunt our growth. But if we use the past correctly, we can improve exponentially.
What we focus on expands. Since we want to improve our lives and our situations, we want to keep a sharp eye on where we focus. If we focus on the past, we won't be focusing on the here and now-- and certainly not on a future.
Thoughts create feelings which create actions which create results. If our results are not as we wish them to be, we have only our thoughts to blame. If you want to create a better result you need to have better thoughts. Noticing thoughts of the past and correcting them can be a huge step in creating a better future.
My past does not create my future. Statistics are for aggregates or inanimate objects, not for me as a person. If I can see it, I can be it, or do it, or make it. Period. The fact that I haven't until now has no bearing on my future. That is unless I hang on to my past. If I believe my past proves I cannot in the future, then I cannot. As Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can or you cannot, you are right."
So the trick is to let go of the past and continue to change and evolve into the future. The best way I have found to do this is to live in the moment; to be present inside each moment. If I focus on the present moment, I, by definition, cannot be living in the past.
Volumes have been written about how to achieve this, but I would like to offer a simplified version of how to let go of the past to become the best version of yourself. The result will be that you become who you wish to become, do the things you wish to do and have the things you wish to have and, best of all, give where you wish to give.
I'll go deeper later, but for now, this is the easy version of letting go of the past and being present in the moment:
Breathe. Notice your thoughts.
Yep, that's it. Breathe.
Notice your breathing. Breathe intentionally. Breathe deeply. Notice each breath. Inhale through your nose and notice that fresh air coming into you. Exhale through your mouth and feel your body as you do so. You can expand this exercise by envisioning that you are breathing in the positive and breathing out the negative.
If you focus on your breath you are completely in the moment. You notice are breathing. Let every other thought go and focus only on the present moment. Then notice what you are noticing. What are your next thoughts? Are they positive? Are they serving your vision of the life you want? If not, change them right away.
The more often you do this, the more you will be in the present moment. The past will no longer haunt you, or define you, or keep you restrained in any way.
I'll talk about more advanced methods and how it all works later, but for now, just practice breathing and noticing what you're noticing. You’ll notice a huge difference.