Is the future all it’s cracked up to be?

18th November 2009  |  by Greg


I spend a lot of time at work. Some other big chunks of my time are spent in bed, asleep. Historically though, the place I’ve spent most of my time is the future. My latest read is suggesting that spending too much time in the future (or the past for that matter) isn’t a good thing.

“The Power of Now” by Eckhart Toll does what it says on the proverbial tin. It expounds the virtues of living in the now.

Do you prefer the future or the past?

There are some obvious reasons why we might spend so much time in the past and the future. I have been known to pick over a particular event that occurred in my life for much longer than was healthy. I tried to make sense of it sometimes when there was no sense to make or benefit to gain. Often I would be aware that picking over the coals of an incident would do me no good; I still did though.

The future, meanwhile, holds our attention for other reasons. It promises happiness. The good stuff is just around the corner. If I can only get that job or buy that house or find the right partner- then, and only then, will I be happy. It took a long time to realise that for me, this wasn’t the case. Whilst, I’ve had troubles in my life, I’ve also ticked many of the boxes that I thought would make me happier. I then found I wasn’t much happier. I was just about the same level of happy. Ticking the boxes didn’t seem to help; if anything, it made things worse because I was hoping the box ticking was going to sort stuff out. I wasn’t depressed or sad even, I just wasn’t as happy as I thought these things would make me. My lovely family, house and hi-fi still seemed like they weren’t enough.

Is happiness around the corner?

I’m happier now that I’ve realised that happiness can be found in the moment. As Eckhart says:

Nothing ever happens in the past. Nothing ever happens in the future. Everything happens in the now.

I don’t think it’s possible or sensible not to think of the future at all. We need to plan our holidays and tomorrow night’s tea. We also need to have plans about how we’d like our lives to look on a more macro scale. (You may notice I advocate having a specific plan for behaviour in the classroom as well.) What I have learnt is that I need to be aware of why I’m spending time imagining the future.

I wondered where most people spend their time- past, present or future? Do certain people spend more time in the past than me and are there those that naturally spend much of their time in the present? I’d love to hear your thoughts- if you’re not too busy in the now.

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