Past, Present & Future

When I talk to most people about staying present and mindset, inevitably the conversation will always steer towards how to stay present. I like to break it down as simply as possible. Associate the Past with Pain, the Future with Anxiety and the Present with Everything. Lao Tzu nailed it when he said “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.”

So why would living in the past be associated with pain or being depressed. We certainly have a lot of positive memories to look back on so why is it painful? The easiest way to think about it is that if you are constantly looking back at old memories that are positive then you are effectively telling yourself that it was better back then. That doesn’t mean don’t reflect back and smile. But it also means to live fully, now in the moment. Don’t dwell on the past with good or bad memories.

Our minds are amazing at creating stories and scenarios that create anxiety. The future is an exciting place to dream about and certainly important to have goals for your future. It’s important to not wind yourself up about things that haven’t even happened yet. I call this the “what if” syndrome and I watch it affect people’s moods, sleep and confidence. That is the good and bad about our imaginations. They can create a feeling inside of us for something that has not or possibly won’t ever happen.

The present is everything! If you give your very best to the present moment then your future will become that amazing dream that you have. In the present you don’t have to be the labels that someone gave you in the past. This is your chance to be your very best at this very moment. Quite literally every second that goes by you get that chance to show up exactly as you would like to. For me, that is the most calming feeling in the world to know that I shape my future and my past doesn’t define who I am.

I am not suggesting that this is easy! But if you slow down and give yourself a break from your past and future, you will find more peace. Try to be present in the moment and remind yourself that Past is Pain, Future is Anxiety and Present is Everything.


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JM Ryerson founded and sold 3 businesses and is now helping leadership teams do the same. He is an Author, Leadership & Performance Coach, International Speaker, and host of the Let’s Go Win podcast who has been building companies and leading sales teams for over 20 years. JM is the co-founder and CEO of Let’s Go Win whose mission is to increase leadership, enhance culture, and help teams achieve peak performance. JM’s great passions are inspiring people to live their best lives and become open to what life has in store for them. His ultimate goal is to give others the tools that will allow them to transcend their self-limiting beliefs. JM was raised in Montana and lives in Boca Raton, Florida with his wife Lisa and their two amazing boys.