Mar 2012: A Recipe for a Thriving Future

by Brad on February 29, 2012

“Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace.”

We put a lot of energy into thinking about the future. With imagination, we can plan, desire, fear, predict, avoid or dream a vast array of possibilities. Depending on how we see, we may imagine the best life can offer or try to minimize the chance of pain. To view the future in any of these ways, better or worse, stems from a perspective that the future is a time and place very distant from now. In my mind, this long-term view creates needless struggle. Here’s why I say this, along with a way to see and think about tomorrow that may free you from much of life’s struggle.

A Road Not Taken

First, we’re very bad at long-term planning or predicting, especially when it comes to things that are inherently uncertain. Stop for a moment and look at your jobs, relationships, health, finances, dreams or happiness. Are things going now just as you’d planned or predicted some time ago?  It’s kind of a problem, then, with ample evidence to the contrary, that we still believe we can control how it will all turn out – way out there.

Second, we seem to forget, or ignore, that to arrive at a future place and time, we must pass through today, and tomorrow, and the day after, etc. It’s almost as if our planning would have us “dropped into” some future world. (Everything will be OK when …)  By thinking that way, even unconsciously, we forget that what happens today matters.

Third, because the long term is a place we can’t impact directly right now, we tend to use the current moment mainly to worry our way to the next moment. This serves to deny us altogether of the meaningful experience or potential this moment offers. If we keep doing this, moment after moment, we never arrive at a place we love, because we keep missing the experience of love while lost in worry about what comes next. There is no future there.  

Here’s a new light you might shine on old thinking. You don’t predict or plan your future; you create it. The path to your future cannot be laid out ahead of time; you create it as you walk. I suggest that the walking is your future; it’s happening right now. Seeing life this way, the future becomes a set of “fully experienced present moments,” strung together one after another. It’s this experience that creates a life you love. How, then, do you experience the present in a way that creates a thriving future? You learn to see and think about the present in a new way.  Here’s how.

Exercise: Create a thriving future: Three ingredients, folded together through the practice of “becoming” each one, define the recipe for a remarkable future. (1) non-judgmental awareness of what’s going on right now; the present is the “seed” from which you grow tomorrow. Practice: quietly notice each present moment; awareness spawns deep personal experience; (2) your innate creative genius (who you truly are; what matters most to you); your essence is “fuel” to help the “seed” germinate. Practice: choose actions in this moment based on your own truth; that energy transforms this moment into the next moment; (3) the information flow (feedback) inherent in the experience of life that tells you how things are going; feedback “guides” your next steps. Practice: listen to what your experience in the present tells you about your next steps. That’s a very different approach than planning those next steps ahead of time, from a disconnected, far-away vantage point. These three ideas, cemented by the practice of being them, represent a huge shift of perspective for most people. Letting go of old beliefs is scary stuff, even if you never knew the beliefs were false. The courage to trust your own powers of awareness and creativity in each moment (which is what these three practices offer you) can have dramatic impact, both on how you experience today and on the quality and meaning of your future.

True, you may not know where this formula will lead you. After all, you’re inventing it as you go. Also true, you will never ‘arrive,’ but hey, there was never any ‘destination,’ either. You become this new thinking by the practice of doing it; you “practice” your future into being. Despite what you can’t control, there are a few things you can count on. You get to choose what matters to you. You get to observe and experience the present moment. You can change course based on the feedback you get. You can do all of these things independent of the world “out there,” including how others think. It’s your life; there’s not a lot to be gained by living someone else’s life instead.


A River Runs Through It  [Life lessons offered by nature]

In nature, everything happens in the now, with concern for neither the past nor the future. Whatever happened in the past may have brought things to this moment, yet it is still past; nature lets it go. Whatever is to come next has yet to be decided; nature is not anxious. The present is a wave of potential energy, vibrating with the infinite possibility of what could come next. Out of this potential, the next moment emerges, fueled by the natural essence of each living thing. What makes this so? The same three factors available to you in each moment. (1) what’s going on right now? (2) what’s the unique energy of each thing that wants to be expressed? (3) what does “life” tell us about how things are going? Look at the splendor and majesty created!

Here’s a simple example that even nature lovers may not have pondered. Consider a fly in mid-air. Out of an infinite number of possibilities for a flight path, the fly has arrived at where it is in this instant – right here right now. There are now (still) an infinite number of possibilities for where the fly may move in the next instant – pure potential. Based on (1) the present state, and (2) the essence of “what it means to be a fly,” it chooses a next step out of the myriad of future possibilities. Moment after moment this process repeats itself, infinite possibility emerging in each and every moment. Guided by feedback from its environment, the fly’s path is defined. If you think about all the choices the fly didn’t make, you get a glimpse of the potential here; and this is just one fly! You may even conclude (rightfully) that, given the erratic nature of the fly’s path, there was not “one right answer” made up ahead of time. 

This process has been going on for over 4 billion years on this planet, and some 14 billion years throughout the universe (ok, maybe there aren’t flies everywhere else, but …). There was no project plan for the Grand Canyon; no “spec sheet” for a mosquito, no “goal” that galaxies would most often look like spirals, yet each is uniquely its own creation, emerging into the uncertainty of the next moment out of its own essence.

 

Openings to New Possibility

 

An invitation to bold possibility: Transforming the perspective offered in this month’s article into your own way of being in life could be a solid, full-year program of individual coaching. In writing as I do, I am under no illusion that the vast majority of people cannot, all on their own, integrate these ideas into their everyday lives. The power of old beliefs to constrain thinking is phenomenal, so having a “guide for unexplored territory” is as important as would be having a guide for a journey into nature’s wilderness. I’m here to help. I’ll meet you wherever you may be on your journey. Together we’ll challenge the thinking that holds you back, discover what matters most to you, and chart a course into the territory of your potential. Contact me, and begin to shift forever your view of what’s possible.

The Road Not Taken website: Visit my website, www.RoadNotTaken.com. You can now gain access to more articles, blogs, and newsletters, so you’ll find “new stuff” on a regular basis. This newsletter will now also be found as a blog entry (under the category Purposeful Wanderings), along with several back issues. You can comment on anything you read; I love this kind of dialogue as an example of how we may all learn together.

Book of the month The Universe Story, by Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry. Subtitled, “From the primordial flaring flash to the ecozoic era, a celebration of the unfolding of the cosmos,” The Universe Story traces the history of the universe in a way that’s accessible to non-science people. It’s one of the only books I know that elegantly integrates both natural and human history “as one,” and describes “humanity’s evolving place in the cosmos and the boundless possibilities for our future. A nice accompaniment to this month’s ideas.

 

Download March 2012 pdf

 

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Vicki Morgan March 2, 2012 at 7:07 pm

You never disappoint Brad!! I find your articles extremely helpful to understanding the thinking process as I pave my journey through this life….. am deeply grateful for your wonderful insights!! Keep up the good work hon!!

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