The problem with predictability
It’s amazing how much we can learn from our kids about living in the moment rather than living in an anticipated future.
My husband was talking with our daughter about her imminent return to college and how she was feeling about it. Since she studied abroad last year for school, this year she will be attending a new campus in a new city and living with friends in her first apartment. I think in talking to our daughter about the upcoming school year, my husband was trying to gauge her level of nervousness, since, like all of us, she can get caught up in her thinking. Particularly around thoughts that make her feel overwhelmed, anxious or scared.
To his great delight, she responded that she imagines she’ll know how she feels when she gets there and that she recognizes that sometimes she’ll feel good and other times not, some classes she’ll like and others not but that it’s not really useful for her to predict since it’s unknowable right now.
Pretty insightful, non?
None of us can predict how we’ll feel in any given moment because that would assume that we know what we’ll think at that moment. And that is simply impossible. It would be like me asking you to tell me what you’ll be feeling next Tuesday at 5 pm.
And yet, how many of us anticipate how we’re going to feel in a certain situation and then live from those feeling as if it is a sure thing?
We’ve all experienced feelings of worry when we imagine the worst happening to the people we love or feelings of anxiety when waiting for an important call. None of us are immune to this experience, and sometimes it can even be informative and useful.
when we don’t recognize that what we’re experiencing in any given moment is our thinking about a future that hasn’t even happened, we can inadvertently create our own stressful and fearful feelings.
Recognizing that the only thing we can feel is our thinking somehow wakes us up to the present moment and gives us a fresh opportunity to experience something new rather than something imagined to scare us.
“Live in the moment'“ isn’t just a empty platitude, after all.