Here & Now & Measuring Success

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It’s important to understand why we crave change in our lives. Whether the change is good or bad, as human being (if we are not the living dead) we crave change. When things stay the same too much, we stop growing in the here and now. This causes a catastrophe of epic proportions in our lives we simply cannot handle, even if it looks like or feels like we are doing great.

Living in the Past

When change doesn’t occur and we get comfortable, we start to live in the past. The prime example of this I have seen from my many years of bartending is the 30 something or 40 something still hanging on to that big football/basketball/other sport game in high school. Old stories come up after a couple of drinks and all of the sudden, the entire bar conversation is about what they did in the past.

While this may seem innocent on the surface, it’s a cause of becoming comfortable and no change. Most bar regulars I encountered are stuck. They have become a part of the living dead, but they are not the only ones.

past-present-futureOthers live in the past every day clinging to their own personal history as some sort of accomplishment or way of measuring themselves. In fact, we see this theme throughout society. You must show proof of experience through a resume for a job, if you want a loan; you have to show proof of being able to pay your bills in the past and so on.

We, as a society, cling to the past and use it as one of the worst measuring sticks for humans. Living in the past isn’t healthy for an individual or for a society. While we can certainly learn from the past, humans and society change and sometimes so rapidly, it seems like it happened overnight. Just as the suddenly famous person is called an “overnight success” even though they put in 15 years perfecting their craft before that happened, humans have the ability to wake up one day completely changed in one way or another.

Clinging to past accomplishments, past sins, past anything means we are not living in the here & now. This is a highly dangerous way of living as the more you live in the past, the more you have the potential to slip into the society of the living dead.

Living in the Future

While living in the past is incredibly dangerous, so is living in or for the future. When all you care about is future wealth, future vacations, future success, it can put you in a very dangerous category. You become the mouse seeking the cheese. There’s always a bigger chunk of cheese and a new maze you must conquer to get it.

This type of living is all about the, “if I get that next promotion life will finally be great.” The problem with living in the future is it never stops. It grabs us and turns us into mice seeking cheese that can never get out of the maze. In a sense, this type of living also turns you into the living dead, you’re just moving a bit faster than those stuck in the past.

timeIt seems admirable when someone is ambitious and has a ton of lofty goals. This is what our society has taught us is above normal, good and the path to success. While, as humans, we think we need goals and we are taught we need the proverbial carrot on the stick leading us, we don’t. We can live a meaningful life without ever setting a goal or striving for anything.

Yes, we need something to look forward to, but not things of the earth. What happens when Mr. Hardworker has a vacation to look forward to in a few months? He gets excited and feels better than when there isn’t something to look forward to. However, when the vacation is a week away, he either goes into “vacation mode” early and becomes nearly worthless at the job or when the vacation comes, he takes his work with him making it not a vacation, but a relocation of work.

I bet we are all guilty of the vacation theory above. The point to this is, we do need something to look to the future for, but it doesn’t need to be something earthly or pounded into us by society. Instead, it can be something not of this earth, that is, if you’re a Christian. Those of us calling ourselves followers of Jesus Christ have something to look forward to: Heaven.

You might think, why would I look forward to death because to go to heaven, I must first die? You are not looking forward to death in the sense of being excited to die when you look forward to heaven. Instead, you are looking forward to passing on to your real home with Christ. The hard part for most, this seems so far away it cannot even be imagined as a goal or something to look forward to.

The Great Distraction

The reason heaven seems so far away from us is simple: we are distracted by worldly everything. From smartphones to billboards to music to TV to other people and so on, distraction rules our world. If you stop and think about it, the great distraction of our technologically advanced world is part of the long game of Satan. I think we forget how cunning Satan really is and how intelligent he is, along with his legion of demons.

Satan is also a very patient creature as he has endured trying to turn humans against God for thousands of years. He revels in small victories and certainly has a long game. Distraction is a great tactic as the distracted, living dead, are not concentrating on any type of relationship with God. Often, they’ve decided doing the bare minimum, showing up to worship on Sunday once in a while and giving a bit of money to the poor occasionally is plenty.

The bare minimum labeling themselves as a Christian is a lie and simply wrong. They often cling to the image other see of their so-called Christianity than the truth within it. This leads to a horrible measuring stick and one we are warned about often: other people. To be Christian means to conform more to the life example and teachings of Jesus Christ. Doing the bare minimum and staying the same doesn’t measure up to this, even if you’re doing as much as or a little bit more than your neighbor.

The Here & Now

successLiving in the here & now is where we belong, no matter what faith/religion you practice. Living for today is the only way we can truly connect with God, connect with others, show joy, provide true love and be truly human. The past and the future are both very dangerous measuring sticks, if we get stuck in either. Judging others based on what they did in the past only leads to condemnation and utter failure of the human race.

It’s hard to live in the here & now, but the hardest things in life often reap the greatest rewards. Part of the problem, however, many will read that type of statement and assume rewards equals more money and more things. Rewards come in many forms and money and things are often the worst rewards only provided by a distracted, living dead society rooting for staying the same.

Forming new habits to fit with living in the here & now is important. When something becomes a habit, it cannot become a mindless habit. Instead, it has to be something you are fully present within or it’s worthless.

If you make waking up early a habit so that you can become more productive in your life’s mission/calling, that’s a noble habit. However, if you mindlessly crawl out of bed and go to work like a machine, you’ve missed something. Stop, look at the sunrise, take the time to do something other than just roll out of bed early and get to work.

Maybe you’ve decided to read the bible as your habit. If you do this just to complete chapters and complete the task without understanding what the words mean and how they can transform you, then you’re missing the point. Your habit has become mindless and the value has dropped drastically.

Living in the here & now means not looking to what you have to do at 5pm when it’s only 10am. It requires laser focus on whatever you are doing right now, even if it’s just playing a round of golf with friends. Be fully present and you’re life will be transformed.

Creating a Real Measuring Stick

goalThe past, the future, other people, money, job title, power, popularity and image are all society’s evil measuring sticks. If you consider yourself successful because you’ve measured your life based on any of these (and many others I cannot think of right now) you’ve utterly failed at life.

Measure your life based on other things, such as how many people have you impacted in a positive, joyful way, how many people have you changed for the better, how many of the living dead have you helped wake up, how closely does your life conform to the living example and teachings of Christ (if you’re Christian) or something else with a true and good belief and foundation and you’ll find real success.

Choosing to forget about society’s measuring sticks and living an uncommon life is the mark of a person living in the here & now. We are not promised tomorrow and yesterday is long gone, so what do we really have left? Live for today, measure your success in a different way and watch your life change as you become a rebel against the society of evil dragging more people into the living dead every single day.