At first, it would seem that I’m stating the obvious. But think about it for a second: how much energy do we spend worrying about tomorrow while it’s still today? Even Annie in her self-titled musical admitted, after singing the praises of “Tomorrow,” that is was still “a day away.”
I used to be plagued with anxiety. I would worry so much about the future that it made me completely ignorant to the present. I’d be so gripped by anxiety that I would nearly cripple over. Or I’d just hide under a blanket and escape, conceding to the inevitability of a coming day.
And had someone told me much earlier that “today is not tomorrow,” and I allowed it to really settle in, I could have potentially avoided years of unnecessary rumination.
The fact is, we don’t know what tomorrow holds. And this, in many ways, is the problem. It speaks to our evolution. It’s the proverbial rustling behind the bush: it could be nothing or it could be something that’s waiting to kill us. So we suspect the worst as a way to predict danger and, hopefully, avoid it. The same principle applies when we worry about the future. We have no idea what tomorrow will be like or we may have a suspicion based on the available knowledge today (i.e., I have an important meeting with the boss tomorrow and I’m dreading it…so I’ll assume that it’s going to go horribly.)
Focusing on tomorrow essentially robs today of its essence. We never existed in the future and we never will. Nor have we ever existed in the past. The present moment has always been our home. We can be nowhere else, which means dedicating precious emotional energy to giving life to the future or past makes no sense.
Here are some things you can do:
Radically and completely accept the uncertainty of tomorrow. Ask yourself how many times your worries have come to fruition; how many times the future was as horrible as you predicted. Statistically, if we worry all of the time, there will have been occasions when our worries came true. This doesn’t give us permission to worry, though.
Attribute a nothingness to the past and future. Logically, you already know that the past and future don’t exist. How can they? We would need some kind of alternate universe or accessible time machine for that to happen. Your illogical mind, fueled by irrational fears and emotions, has deceived you into thinking the future and past are accessible and that, strangely, the future can be known.
Finally, fully inhabit the present. There’s no better way to do this than by meditating. Just feel yourself existing in this time and in this space, consciously. Experience the senses in your body reacting to your surroundings. You feet on the floor, the sensations in your fingertips or the very tip top of your head.
Tomorrow will arrive whether we want it to or not. And, when it does, it will not be tomorrow but today. Life is is a series of present moments; of ‘nows,’ not thens or whens.