Uncertainties about tomorrow do more than just slow you down. They actually threaten to make you stuck
Seneca said that his book, On the Shortness of Life.
Here is the complete quote:
“Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow, and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.”
It’s an awesome statement. Isn’t that a much better way to live?
2020 has been exhausting, stressful and overwhelming. Despite the many challenges of the year and the difficult decisions you had to make to keep moving, you are still here.
What does that tell you? You are stronger than you think.
Life has changed but it hasn’t stopped. You are still evolving. Choose to evolve into your best self. It’s a smart choice that can pays off for the rest of your life.
You have to still pay your bills, make a living, take care of someone, work from home, commute to a “safe” place to work if you can’t work from home.
Epidemics have been with the human race since recorded history began, often changing the course of history.
And global economies are in recession 10–12% of the time.
Those who survive them learn from them, and sometimes make better decisions in the future. Others keep repeating the same mistakes and keep digging their own graves.
My point is there will be uncertainties, unfortunate events, the future will be unpredictable, but you have right now, this moment, to make a life-changing decision. A decision that can change the course of your life.
You can worry about everything that might go wrong tomorrow or you can seize the day — here and now.
The smart choice is obvious, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easier option.
Most people fear the consequences of the smart choice, so they keep doing what they’ve always done — procrastinate. But still expect things to change.
We’ve all heard Albert Einstein’s famous line: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
If you want a better life — without worry, anxiety, stress or career worries you have to make a deliberate choice to change the course of your life right now, not tomorrow.
You can’t predict the future. And you definitely can’t control how events unfold in the world — choosing to worry about them is a huge waste of your precious time and mental energy.
“The mistake is thinking that there can be an antidote to the uncertainty,” says David Levithan
“Carpe diem” — Seize the day
A phrase used by the Roman poet Horace to express the idea that one should enjoy life while one can.
The present moment is your best opportunity to live on your own terms, multiply your income streams, do your best work, improve your relationship, embrace life-learning, read that book, start a gratitude journal, schedule a personal workout or pursue your passion project. Don’t waste it.
Much of life’s pain stems from the gap between expectations and reality. If you can balance what you think should happen and the reality of life, you can limit your frustrations in life.
The better approach to living your best life is to be present, live immediately and do your best at everything today, not tomorrow.
“Today could be the last day of my life. It could be the last day of your life. It could also be the best day of our lives,” writes Ryan Holiday. Seize it.
Life is short and full of anxieties for those who neglect the present and fear the future. However, life is long if you know how to use your time wisely and choose to do what makes you come alive today.
Many people can’t get uncertainties and disappointments because they are hung up over what reality should be — a single perception or lens with which they see the world.
They think in terms of binary opposition (black or white), a common mental error that can distort your perception of reality. When you are trapped dichotomous thinking, everything becomes “this or that”. You fixate on how things “should be” or “must be”.
When you are disappointed, faced with challenges or difficulties that are making it extremely hard to live immediately, ask yourself:
What were my expectations about these circumstances? What expectations did I have about myself? What perceptions about life or the future am I clinging on to? What am I expecting from reality that I’m not getting?”
Question your conventional assumptions about how to live. It’s one of the best ways to develop or build new mindsets that can help you overcome your current anxieties about almost every area of your life.
As Gilda Radner rightly puts it, “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”
The ultimate challenge in life is to accept that life isn’t linear, but never stop trying to learn, grow and evolve into your best self every day.
It’s the openness and the willingness to embrace the paradox, rather than stress about it that puts you in a better position to live presently.