Past Or Present – What Is Your Choice?

Past or present?
While it is natural to think about the past, which holds our memories and mistakes and inspires us to learn from them to move ahead, living in the present is the most worthwhile experience.

Living in the present moment, far away from the broodings of past and the apprehensions of uncertain, unpredictable future is so prudent, practical and sensible. Yet we keep drifting back and forth, seeking solace in the past memories and living in the illusionary world of future.

Why do people dwell in the past?

  • Stressful events of the past cling to us, making us think what went wrong, who was at fault.
  • Guilt doesn’t dissolve till we have ruminated enough, fixed responsibility or found a solution.
  • Negative thoughts are more powerful and require extra energy to dispel them.
  • Some hurtful memories keep haunting us.
  • Some shocking discoveries about the family could be difficult to forget.
  • Emotional distress takes a longer time to heal.

If you too get mired in the regrets and hurts of the past, I must tell you that I have not come across a better description of living in the present:

“I lit the candles and said out loud, “what am I waiting on? Someone to sell them in a garage sale for a quarter after I die?” And it was beautiful. And the smell was even more incredible than I remembered.”–Paula Heller Garland

Whenever abrasive past stands before me, I talk it out of my mind. I write a poem on the shadows of past and bury this demon with more words.

I savor the present moment. This is the only asset in our hands. Live it happily. Give your best to this moment for you will cherish it tomorrow.

I have always lived in the present, accepted the misfortunes, made peace with the disappointments, delighted in its little blessings, found happiness in whatever the present moment has offered and sat in the shadows of sadness to let the dark moments of my past pass by.Make peace with your past

Living in the present

  • Keeps us focused
  • Frees us from anxiety
  • Encourages us to put in our best
  • Makes us emotionally strong
  • Improves our mental health
  • Gives happiness that lasts

What prevents us from living in the present?

We are constantly judging ourselves, we keep talking to ourselves, finding fault with our decisions and disturb our own serenity of mind.

Past connects us with our present, which could be distressing due to our own faults.

It also depends on the kind of personality we have. Some people are brooders. They are prone to negative thinking. Doubts dominate their thoughts and anxiety flows in their veins. This anxiety ruins the little moments we could savor!

Research has shown that focusing on the past reduces the power of positive emotions.

It is very natural to think about the future and onerous to forget the past completely. Present stems from the past and steers us into the future. These links cannot be snapped. Perfectly fine! Don’t snap those links.

Living in the present doesn’t mean de-linking from the past or stop planning for the future. It just means protecting our mind from negative thoughts, leading a more meaningful life, staying focused on our goals, hoping for the best and be happy.

 “If you are depressed, you are living in the past
  If you are anxious, you are living in the future
 If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”
 –Lao Tzu  

Do you live in the present?  Do the ghosts of your past haunt you? Is the planning for future overwhelming?

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, as they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.


69 thoughts on “Past Or Present – What Is Your Choice?

  1. Balroop, it is a deep and interesting subject you take up and the discussion could go on. So I will silmply say I agree with what you say , I do believe in living in the present but accept that I am both blessed and ever now and again disturbed by past memories. The future I only worry as a difficult meeting comes up or someone I love and know gets ill…..or at times when I read the news.
    I love the quote about the candles, so wise. I do burn a lot f candles so should be alright b that score.:).

    1. Oh yes Miriam I too love that quote…the thought went straight to my heart! When future is so uncertain why not enjoy the little joys that life offers us! Thanks for sharing your perspective Miriam, much appreciated.

    1. I am sorry you have such people around you Ritu…I know your positivity must be making some difference…change may be slow but it surely happens if we keep the hope alive. Love and hugs dear friend.

      1. Love and hugs definitely help
        Balroop 💜
        You’re right. It’s hard but the positivity keeps me going and it does slowly rub off on others!

  2. Great post, Balroop. Maturity sometimes brings the realization that we need to cherish every moment. In my 20s and early 30s I kept waiting for this wonderful life to begin. I dreamed of it; I planned each detail; I knew what I wanted if I could only reach that dream. Then, at 37, life threw me a curve. Lupus entered my life, and the dream became just living one more day, seeing the sun rise, seeing the full moon each month because I had lived another 28 days. I have learned so much about myself since that happened as I have been blessed in a new way. For each new day is always miraculous for me. This has been going on for 28 years, and I have known God’s touch for all those days. The past means nothing; the future, uncertain. I have this moment, and it’s that wonderful dream I always wanted come true. The next moment, the next breath if it comes, will be just as exciting!

    1. Thanks for sharing such a poignant aspect of your life Deb and how it has taught you to value each moment. Such setbacks do come with profound life lessons, which we could never dream of! I am glad you are here, having borne all the pains yet looking at the brighter side…resilience is an amazing virtue! Love and hugs dear friend.

      1. Ha! ha! the misprint says ‘bugs’…but I know they are hugs Deb! Not editing as they add some humour to this page 🙂 Thanks 🙂

  3. This is always a good reminder, Balroop. I answered yes to all three questions, LOL. I definitely keep my head in the present though and try to focus on the good things and small blessings in my life. Thanks for this beautiful post! xoxo

  4. An eloquent and insightful post, Balroop. You left no stone unturned. Living in the present requires constant awareness ~ and I’m still a work in progress ~ but the process of mindfulness is its own reward. Hugs, my friend ❤

    1. Thank you Tina. it is only when we are aware of the joys of the present moment that we can be a part of them otherwise life fleets by and we keep waiting for celebrations that never happen. To quote Dr. Barnard…’celebrate that you are alive!’ 🙂

  5. Wise words, Balroop. To live life to the full in the present by filling our hearts and minds with the positive is what matters. ❤ Blessings and love… xo

  6. Thinking too much about past doesn’t help it only spoils present. It’s best to accept and move on. Negative people spread negative vibes by talking about ideal situations or about the past events. Best to avoid them, altogether.

  7. Balroop, it’s soothing to read your wise and reflective words this Sunday morning … a certain stillness comes over me. Lao Tzu quote is so true! When young I was filled with some anger and regret about the past and slowly realised that it was not only affecting me negatively but those who loved me too. Living in the present is indeed a peaceful gift to ourselves and all around us. Wishing you a peaceful Sunday, my friend! xxx

    1. Self solace is the best gift to ourselves as it heals the past hurts and keeps us focused on present goals. Thank for adding your insights Annika, much appreciated. If we look at regrets from another angle, they are life lessons and that is how I have been looking at them…it is so liberating! Hugs dear friend.

  8. That ability to let go is powerful. I didn’t get there until well into adulthood. And then it made all the difference. Love this article, Balroop.

  9. I agree with you, Balroop, that you need to let go of any perceived past mistakes and move on with your life, enjoying the present to the best extent possible. When I look back on my life to date there is nothing I deeply regret. I have made some mistakes but they have all eventually led to the life I live now and my current happiness with my family.

  10. You’ve hit the nail right on its head with this post, Balroop. The letting the past where it belongs is quite difficult but there are luckily certain methods that can help focusing the mind more on the present, painting and drawing are some of them and I find them extremely helpful. You simply can’t dwell in the past when you concentrate on a canvas or piece of paper. 😊

    1. I agree with you Sarah…art in any form is a great tranquillizer of emotions…poetry has been therapeutic for me, it absorbs the past hurts and regrets. Thank you for your thoughtful reflections. 🙂

  11. A beautifully written, powerful post, Balroop. The past is ….past, but interesting how easy it is for us to return there. The future is unknown, and thank goodness we can’t visit it in our mind! Talk about anxiety! I live in the present as often as possible, but on those sleepless nights – yikes. Then the past visits sometimes as a good dream, and sometimes as a nightmare. That’s when meditation, prayer, and counting from 100 down backwards helps. 🙂 Thanks for those luscious quotes.

    1. Thank you Pam, I am glad you have your past and future in control. I am sure you convert those nightmares into spicy stories 🙂 Stay blessed and have a wonderful week.

  12. I must confess I live in the future, but I do enjoy present as well – I’ve been doing it after a change I brought in myself a few years back. I think I am lucky to have crossed over since my still live in the past!

  13. There is nothing better and more precious than the present Balroop. Thought I did spend a good deal of time on wandering in the past. I needed to understand things so I could let go. Some memories keep coming back in the present but as you say they don’t belong there. We ought at some stage to embrace now and embrace it fully. Or we would miss the most important part of our lives.
    Love reading your thoughts Balroop. Thank you for sharing your inspration and wisdom with us all.

    1. We all are wired to do so because past holds our memories…unpleasant memories pull us more often into their dark alleys. What is important is to learn to emerge from them and you have tried hard to do so. I admire your determination Marie. Stay blessed!

  14. I struggle with old sorrows sometimes–they can be haunting. All I can do is try to think about something else–prayer, my writing, someone else’s writing–anything is better than staying in that place and giving old pain power over my present.

    Still very much a work in progress, though. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

    1. You are not alone Cathleen, we all have to struggle with grief but they say pain is an essential part of life as it enlightens us, ennobles us and makes us resilient. It is good to immerse ourselves in whatever activity soothes us. Thank you for standing by to read and comment, much appreciated. 🙂

  15. I have no problems living in the present – like you, I write when memories emerge that seem vexing. Mostly they don’t, as I’ve spent so many years working through issues from my young life. Yet the present can be troubling, we live in strange times, so much overwhelm with the world stage visible from any angle for anyone to see. And so it seems imperative for me to create. On a daily, moment to moment basis. Glorify creation. In the ever-present Now. Aloha, Balroop. ❤

    1. I agree with you Bela, even present can be distressing…we have to steer through troubled waters with care, keeping our own emotional and mental health a top priority. Creation is the best therapy! Thank you for the reminders. Stay blessed dear friend. 🙂

  16. I keep trying to live more in the present, but my mind seems to have this loop I keep replaying trying to figure out how, and why, and where things went wrong with my mom and with my ex. It’s exhausting, but I keep trying to deal with it in positive ways as I learn new habits of mind.

    1. That is what life is all about Jeri…figuring out what is best for us and discovering the right ways. Positivity and hope shine at the horizon, so keep looking at it. 🙂

  17. Great post, Balroop. It takes a lot of attempts to live in the present, but attempts worth the effort. A friend once told me that I should switch on/off past/present buttons with a smile on my face. Meaning I must first be willing to accept the painful past, deal with it as I can only deal with it, and switch it off before switching on the present button, and I might see a flower bloom in the worst of winter.

    1. I wish there were buttons to switch off the past but in same breath I would say…Oh! what about the joyous memories, which we treasure and like to relive in our thoughts?
      I know it is very difficult to put a smile on the face when past is overwhelming…it takes time to deal with it and let go and slowly we learn the ways.
      Thank you Mahesh for coming in to add to this conversation, much appreciated! 🙂

      1. You’re right about the joyous memories. If one can filter those ones out of a hurt-filled past, one might not relive his past with a sense of burden affecting his present. Again, attempts and attempts. Life is an art, isn’t it? Thanks.

  18. I so agree with you Balroop that living in the present and accepting ourselves for what we are today is the key to positive and mindful living. While it is okay to recall nice memories if we tend to delve too much into the past ruminating over our what could have been had we done so and so or not done this or that, we are bound to fret and fill ourselves with regret. In the process make others around us unhappy too. As you have said we must learn to make peace with the past, enjoy the present, and live and let others live.
    The thought of future gives us a mental hook or something to look forward too. Yet, if it is too overpowering then it makes us less perceptive of the present and less sensitive to those around us.
    I know it is easier said than done but this shift in mindset to learn to live in the present is worth developing.
    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post with this practical message for mindful living. Loved the quotes and the short poem. 🙂

    1. Somali, I am always impressed by your mature reflections, the way you handle them and steer them into a positive direction. I am proud to have you here! Thank you so much for being one of my oldest friends in blogosphere.
      Acceptance is a virtue and those who learn it earlier in life feel blessed as they make their life smoother. Future too becomes better if we are prepared for the worst…that seems to be the law of nature. 🙂
      Many thanks for sharing your perspective, much appreciated!

  19. This is such a wise and well-written post, Balroop, and one that hits home. There are a couple of unfortunate events from the past that occasionally follow us into the present, and our daughter’s disease (with its unknown outcome in the future) sometimes takes us into the future, causing uncomfortable anxiety. So, our daughter (26) is the one who coined “Living in the Here and Now” for our family. We strive to follow in her footsteps. It’s not always easy, but living in the present is our goal each day. I also loved the quote and your beautiful poem. Thanks for sharing, and have a lovely weekend!
    ~Lauren ❤

    1. I am grieved at your pain of living with a disease and that too when it afflicts the most precious relationship…we want to see our children ever happy and flourishing. It is difficult to accept their suffering. I appreciate her positive attitude as it mitigates many woes…inspiring us to savor the joys of the moment. Sending you my prayers and good wishes for her well-being and good health. Stay blessed!

    1. I like that Mani…unhappiness may be created by people and situations around us but we possess the power to turn it around. 🙂 Thank you for the positivity that you send through your words.

  20. Your wisdom echoes through your words dear Balroop, Learning to live in the NOW of the Moment takes discipline, and one I have had to learn to practice. Yet often the Ghosts of the past loom to haunt the present. Learning to shed the layers of wounds we have held onto takes patience and practice. As we learn to unravel our Human Psychic.
    Sometimes I slip back into a void of emotion that at times threatens to overwhelm me, Then I get a grip, for the choice is always ours to take, and no one can make those choices other than ourselves to live in the present and be filled with gratitude for the moments we have..
    I thank you for this piece of wisdom.. I am still unpeeling the layers built over time,that often when one layer is removed another sore beneath is discovered which takes time to heal..
    Many thanks, I needed to read your wise words again today..
    Love and Blessings my lovely friend..
    Sue ❤

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