Forget Marty McFly and Doc Brown – Start Living In The Present! | The BridgeMaker

Forget Marty McFly and Doc Brown – Start Living In The Present!

By on Aug 14, 2012

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. – Buddha

Weren’t things just awesome when you were younger? Isn’t it nice to dream about what great things you’ll do when you retire?

What about dreaming of all the things you are about to do on vacation, or fondly remembering days-gone-by?

It’s nice to reminisce about nice memories – you might even wish that you could travel back in time and experience those things again.

Then, there is the negative side of this reminiscing. You either live in the past or you’re pessimistic about the future.

Unfortunately, living like this is not like living at all. This is exactly how many people are spending their lives.

You are here – not in the past or in the future

You’re stressing yourself out unnecessarily by either living in the past or in the future. You’re bound to worry more about what has happened, or is about to happen, if you’re pessimistic about life.

If you look at things from an optimistic perspective, you’ll want to rewind to past events or fast forward to the experiences you are eagerly waiting for.

You’ll also forget to live in the moment since you have chosen living in the past or in the future instead.

Since the past or the future is controlling you, you don’t know how to enjoy the present moment – which is the most important time of your life.

Ask yourself, how long are you going to live like this?

Loops and dreams

There are two causes for living anywhere but in the present moment.

The first cause is the expectancy of the future. If your view of live is positive, then you expect something wonderful to happen. That’s why you are hesitant to live in the boring present moment and you want to hop right into the fun part – the stuff that is ahead of you.

The expectancy can also be negative. If your view of life is dominated by pessimism, then you tend to think that something negative is going to happen, thus ruining your present moment.

Secondly, you might have some open loops that keep you living in the past – something that keeps bothering you that we can’t stop thinking about until it is solved or settled. This open loop could be caused by the fear.

We might also have positive experiences that we want to relive again – it’s natural to want them back.

Naturally, since you don’t have that time capsule, you can only dream about it – thus pushing the present moment into the background.

Back to the present

Do you know the movie Back To The Future? Sure, it was a fine film and I enjoyed it a lot.

In the movie, the kid called Marty McFly (played by Michael J Fox) was given a chance to travel between the past and the future using a special car which was invented and developed by Doc Brown (played by Christopher Lloyd).

And no, I’m sorry to let you down, but I’m not here to give you that kind of car.

Instead, I’m telling you to quit living in the past or in the future … and start living in the moment instead!

It all starts with acceptance.

You accept that the past is past and future is future and there is nothing you can do about it. You can’t control either one of them, as they have either happened or are about to happen.

Then, fix those closed loops of yours.

If you experienced something negative in the past, fix that aspect of your life by taking full responsibility of what happened. Then take bold action to close the loop.

I know, fixing those open loops may take a lot of courage and I also understand if you are afraid to take action. At the same time, the open loop will keep playing in your head – as long as it’s in your head unsettled.

Next, start doing the positive things in your life right now, since they’ll make you feel better and even make you more optimistic about life. When you make good things in the present you’ll enjoy your life even more.

When you quit thinking about the future in your daily life, you’ll also experience fewer disappointments. Many times we are expecting something to happen in the future and we are waiting eagerly for it. Then, for some reason, that expected thing won’t happen at all and we are bitter, disappointed and sad.

That’s why it’s important to live in the present and make it the best experience as possible, so that you don’t feel the need to live in the future.

Fall in love with the moment

To make your life even more enjoyable without living in the past or in the future, take these steps:

  • Appreciate
    When you appreciate little everyday moments, you enjoy your life more.

    Find the joy in waking up early and reading the morning paper with a cup of coffee without any distractions. Enjoy the sound of your children’s laughter. Value and appreciate all the great people that you have in your life.

    When you appreciate things and events around you, you feel good and your general well-being increases.

    You can also do all the things you are grateful for before going to sleep, when you remember all the great things that you have in your life and all the fine experiences you had that day.

  • Accept the reality
    When you remember that you cannot change the past – nor can you control the future (at least not that much) – you will no longer stress over things that you can’t control. You can give the valuable present a bit more “breathing room”.
  • Stop postponing your life
    Don’t say, “When I retire …” or, “When the summer starts …” and limit your daily actions this way.

    Start following your dreams now!

    Postponing your life is useless because you never know what other plans life has for you.

    Live now, take action now – not sometime in the future!

  • Take bold action
    Sometimes the only way to stop thinking about the past is to close the loop that plays in your head.

    Now, this ain’t always easy and it can be very scary. But as long as the loop is open, it will keep going in your mind. You’ll keep reliving the experience again and again.

    Only you know when you are ready to fix the loop.

    When the time is right, take bold action and fix the loop so that you or any other party involved can be peaceful and happy, knowing that the issue is now closed and you can move on with your lives.

  • Remember that life has its own plans
    Planning and expecting too much may be exciting but it’s risky at best. Life has its own written script that is about to be played out anyway – whether you want it to or not.

    The less you anticipate the future, the less you are going to be disappointed when things don’t go as you planned.


Living in the past or living in the future is not living at all.

Sure, it’s fun to remember what your life was like years ago and it’s exciting to dream of the future.

But when you do either one of these things too much, you forget something important: the present.

It’s the most valuable time available and we should make it the best time of our lives.

Start living in the moment and you’ll enjoy your life much more.

Over to you: How do you make sure you live in the present, instead of living in the past or in the future? Share your experiences in Comments below. Reading by email? Click here to visit the site.

Timo Kiander, a.k.a. Productive Superdad, teaches WAHD superdad productivity for work at home dads. If you want to get more productive in your own life, grab 222 of his best Tips for Becoming a Productivity Superstar.

  • Carmelo

    Thanks for the thoughtful post, Timo. I especially like acceptance and closing loops. We often find ourselves anywhere but the present, don’t we? The world tugs at us from all directions. 

    Something else to think about. If the present moment is all we have and the only way to really live life to the fullest – Why would we EVER leave the present moment? Sometimes it’s because it just seems so full of duty, responsibility, and perceived dangers. 

    Yes, the past can fill us with guilt and sadness which isn’t good but it can also be “fun” in that we get to complain about others, about unfairness, etc. and it takes our minds off of present moment duties, etc. And yes, the future can be scary and cause anxiety but it can also seem fanciful and also free of hard work – at least in our dreaming. It takes the pressures of life off!

    So, what I find is that observation and awareness is so crucial. And it’s not a mental thing at all. In fact, it’s only when I get completely out of my mind and into my heart and soul that the present moment becomes so beautiful and blissful. That’s when the “fixing the loops” you spoke about becomes doable. “Life” will even fix them for you.

    Thanks so much, again Timo, for inspiring these thoughts. It’s great to share these insights as they really do bring us to higher consciousness and happiness.


    • Carmelo,

      Great to hear you liked the article!

      Yes, you can escape the present moment by going back in the past or going into the future. In fact, there are times when you need to do this.

      However, I’m learning to live more and more in the present, as it creates the past and controls (at least a certain amount) the future.


  • Hi Timo, thanks for the great ideas. One of the ways I remind myself to come back to the present  is to just take a big, deep breath. I find this refreshing, clarifying, and grounding all at once.

    • Hi Bobbi!

      Thank you for the insight! 

      I’ll try that the next time I’m not in the present moment.


  • Hi Timo. Great tips. We simply can’t have feelings of success and happiness if we are stuck in the past. When we visualize positive outcomes while listening to past voices of “NO’”  we fall under the spell of self delusion that summons forth discouraging thought-voices that make us hesitate and procrastinate. Therefore, even if the ways and means of realizing our dreams were available,

    we’d debate their validity. Clear seeing is very freeing, and we can only see the truth of our Authentic selves in the present!

    • Rob,

      I totally agree: 

      > We simply can’t have feelings of success and happiness if we are stuck in the past.

      I see this in everyday moments: if I do something I enjoy to, but my mind is wandering somewhere else than in the present, then I’m losing that great present moment and I can’t enjoy it.


  • Ah, I am very much in the present, Timo. But I also like to think of the past (yes, many awesome moments) and get inspired and often, motivated when I remember the great words and conversations of my mentors, my Mom and my Grandma. I allow my past to envelop me with love and propel me into the future via the wonderful vehicle that is the present. When I say vehicle, I’d be carefully steering it towards all positive things, mindful of reveling in every single moment because I consider the “present” a huge gift. My moments are mine, and no one can actually take them away from me unless I let them.

    Your words are beautiful. Thank you for inspiring my day, today.
    Thank you, Alex, for the great introduction.
    Love, Vidya

    • Vidya,

      Thank you 🙂

      Yes, there are good moments in your past that should be nurtured and they can give you a lot of positive energy for your present moment.

      Thank you for the reminder 🙂


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