Our personal history is a rich source of experiences that we can learn from and that can help us live a healthy and meaningful life. We can draw on our past experiences when we face challenges, enter unknown territory, or have a difficult decision to make. We shouldn’t live in the past, but we shouldn’t ignore it, either. The past can help us predict the outcomes of our actions and help guide us in achieving our goals.
It’s a very common thing to constantly be looking forward to, planning for, or thinking about something coming up.
There often seems to an implicit assumption that the future will be, in some way, better than now. But the truth is that the light at the end of the tunnel is overrated. It always looks better than it is, and it never quite arrives.
The trick is to make the tunnel our own. With the right perspective, the tunnel itself can become the light.
It’s easy to say, but there is so much we have to keep track of. It’s also hard to stay focused—to keep our minds on what we are doing without getting distracted or letting our minds wander.
It’s important to remember that we are only capable of doing one thing at a time. At any single moment, our brains can only think about one thing. We may be under the illusion that we’re able to work on several things at once, but what is really happening is that we’re focusing on one thing for a very short time then moving on to something else. We may even be cycling through several tasks, causing us to think we’re focusing on all of them at the same time, but the bottom line is we can only focus on one at any given moment.
People often want something different, something more. We find it quite hard to see the potential for happiness in the present, even when the present is fantastic. Even during our “most exciting times,” we tend to think about what’s coming next. On vacation, we’re thinking of the next day’s surfing, of the friends coming to visit, of the great dinner we’re going to have. It’s hard for us to “just be,” to eek out all the joy in what is happening right here, right now.
For many of us, life is busy enough that a healthy perspective about the balance between what we get out of life and what we contribute to the world and other people is challenging. It can be hard to think about what we might do, not because we have to, but because it will make someone else happy—because it will make the world a better place.
The benefits of generosity
Why is giving back important? Whether or not we realize it, generosity is very beneficial to us. It makes us feel good about ourselves, it makes our relationships closer and warmer, and it contributes to meaning in our lives. Generosity also feeds on itself. If someone does something nice for you, you are more inclined to do something nice for someone else. We have a tendency to pay it forward.