“The future is bought with the present.” -Samuel Johnson
I have been thinking about the enlightened common sense of the above quote. Over the years, I have had a lot of people come to me for advice and a variety of different topics. Many of them have told me that they appreciate my feedback because I get straight to the point, tell it like it is, and give sound, practical advice.
I am always quite intrigued to watch and observe what people actually do with the advice I give. Over the years it has been interesting to watch how some people tend to continue to re-create negative situations in their lives, while others tend to learn and grow. I think the above quote sheds light on the real difference maker between a life of growth and learning, or a life of misguided choices and negative outcomes.
The future is bought by the present, is a basic cause and effect statement, which applies both on a micro individual level and macro societal scale. The choices, sacrifices, and disciplined actions we take in the present determine our future outcomes. As individuals we take responsibility for future outcomes by embracing positive choices in the now. Eckhart Tolle delves into this topic more in his book, “The Power of Now.” Taking action in the present to create desired outcomes, is a mandatory ingredient in achieving a life well lived.
It seems really common sense, but yet some people tend to continue to digress towards negative future outcomes, because they are unwilling to make necessary changes in the present. I think Dr. Peck in his book, “The Road Less Traveled” spells out some of the reasons why people are unwilling to make the necessary changes to move toward a healthier state of mind, health, and life.
Dr. Peck talks about change being difficult because it requires us to let go of and mourn the loss of pieces of our old self. So that we can embrace our new selves along with better, more applicable choices for our current situations. He says laziness is in effect the avoidance of change, which can be characterized as an unwillingness face the reality of the situation (ie. denial) and an unwillingness to take the personal responsibility required to take the actions necessary to create better outcomes.
People who strive toward enlightened growth, improvement, mindfulness, and awareness are not lazy. They do the work required to work through life’s issues. You will not find them blaming their problems on someone else or making a long list of excuses. They accept what is and get on with facing the pain. Facing the pain almost always means giving up something and working hard towards a better outcome.
Facing the pain means taking responsibility and realizing that personal sacrifice of time and energy must be made in order to create positive outcomes in the future. For each person facing the pain can be something different. For some it means taking the actions required to create a healthier life. Facing the pain might mean developing the courage to face a difficult situation or listen to a new idea challenging an old belief system.
Facing the pain might mean doing the work of finding one’s own internal voice and learning how to effectively communicate with others. It might mean facing and overcoming a fear like public speaking, driving on a freeway, or communicating one’s feelings. It might mean simply realizing that faster is not always better because sometimes short cuts lead to less knowledge, less nutrition, or less well being. For someone else it might mean, picking up the pace and working a little harder. While for others, it might mean learning to take time to reflect and create quiet moments. Facing the pain basically means doing the hard work needed in order to grow into a more enlightened being.
When you see someone that has achieved successful results in a particular area of their life, the chances are that individual has dedicated a great deal of time and energy to creating that outcome. Granted, there are some rare exceptions to the rule, but in my experience the rare exceptions are very rare. Positive results most often emanate from those who are willing to face the discomfort of doing the hard work.
All of the fit healthy people I know dedicate time and energy to a work out and healthy eating program. All of the long term successful people I know dedicate the time and energy necessary to learning, growing, and adapting. All of the truly aware people I know have dedicated countless hours to introspection, mindfulness, and self awareness. All of the super smart people I know have dedicated a significant portion of time to developing knowledge. The financially well off people I know have worked very hard and made good choices (many times sacrificing in the present in order to save for the future). All of the great relationships I have seen have been built on a strong foundation of Love and Trust.
Knowing what we should do to is one level of awareness. Actually doing the right thing is a much higher level of awareness and it requires discipline to actually follow through in a consistent manner. Sometimes, I get really tired of hearing the long lists of excuses (usually based on unintelligent irrational thought patterns or exception to the rule examples) people give for continuing down the wrong road. Bottom line, people who really want to create positive change, know what they need to do and are willing to do the hard work in the present to achieve future outcomes. If you want to have a better future, you need to start making better choices and setting better priorities in the now.