Life, it turns out, is all about time travel.
Our minds jump back and forth between past, present, and future all day long.
- What did you eat for supper last night?
- What are your weekend plans?
- How do you feel right now?
The thing is, the more time jumping we do, the less happy we tend to be.
You’d be surprised—shocked, probably—to discover how much of your day you spend in the past and the future. Especially us North Americans.
A missionary couple serving in Tanzania told me recently that Tanzanians pretty much think of North Americans as zombies. Their word for us means “those who walk back and forth.” They can’t comprehend all our time jumping and the pace of life it creates. Apparently Tanzanians live almost entirely in the present. Carpe Diem, sans Latin.
Sounds refreshing, at least to me. They’re onto something, because if you think about it, life can only be lived in the now. So the more time you spend ruminating on the past or future (thinking about living), the less time you have to actually live and enjoy your life.
Many of us are time travelling zombies.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to reflect on the past. I’ve heard that the most common command in the Old Testament is to “Remember.” And it’s important to plan ahead, to think cause and effect, to make goals and aspire for more.
Don’t worry, be… uh… something else
Here’s a nuclear-powered tidbit: It’s impossible to worry when you’re living in the moment. Why? Because worrying is time traveling into a potential future, a negative one, and hanging around there, imagining what would happen if it came true. Worry is, by definition, thinking about something that isn’t happening to you yet. Which is why Seth Godin has the gall to insist, “all worry is needless.”
Don’t confuse anxiety and worry. Anxiety is a feeling. Worry is an action, a habit.
This week I’ve been embroiled in a serious battle: The battle for my present. I’m almost continually drawn—tempted, really—to leave the present moment and spend my mental energies on the future. The more I do that, the more stressed I get. I bet you can relate.
We’re time travelling zombies. Unless we put two powerful tools to work.
I’ll tell you what they are later this week.
For now, talk to me! Do you ever feel like those Tanzanian zombies? Do you struggle with worry?