Friday, May 22, 2020

Remaining Focused On The Here and Now

"Don't let your reflection on the whole sweep of life crush you. Don't fill your mind with all the bad things that might still happen. Stay focused on the present situation and ask yourself why it's so unbearable and can't be survived." - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 8.36

When I take a moment to reflect on some of the most impressive, scary, or other things I have done, or lived through; I sometimes wonder how they were possible. How did I make it through the tough times, or the times that required excruciating work? Marcus laid it out above quite clearly; I was too busy with the details to let the whole sweep of the situation crush me. 

You have likely heard the sayings- take things one day at a time, or hour by hour when things get difficult. There is good reason for these types of statements. Sometimes having an idea of the big picture is important, but considering how little we actually control in our lives, it can also be extremely counter-productive and overwhelming. I am not advocating that we walk through life as mindless zombies, but by focusing exclusively on the present, we're able to avoid or remove many negative thought patterns that might be clouding up our view of things. 

Along those lines: whatever might happen to us in the present, today- let's be prepared and ready for problems. Let's not be surprised by difficulties. Let's be ready for people to behave in disappointing and confusing ways. Let's accept things as they come and make life work for us. Don't spend time wishing you could turn back the clock or somehow recreate the world as you would like. It is much better and much easier to remake ourselves. Start by just doing the next right thing. 

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