“Dream as if you will live forever, live as if you will die today” – James Dean

I love this quote as it embraces one of the big dilemmas of life – whether we should live in the moment, plan for the future, or reflect on the past? The truth is that to live fully engaged, productive and fulfilling life we probably have to master the art of all three. Being fully engaged means feeling present, energized and focused in whatever we do. At the same time, to live productively, we need to be committed to producing outcomes that help us progress and fulfill our dreams. All this can be difficult, as we often are held back visibly or not by past experiences. Therefore it is also crucial to reflect and make sense of our past, so that we can transform past experiences as building blocks for a joyful ride.

Flickr - This is life - Rafa Elias

We can’t know what will happen tomorrow, and therefore it is crucial to try and enjoy every moment of our lives. Otherwise we will suffer from the pain of regrets. This is of course easier said than done. However, by focusing to be positive, optimistic and present, we will definitely start the process of creating instant joy. At the same time, we will only fulfill our wildest dreams if we think big, plan ahead, and create a vision of the life we desire. By envisioning the future in great detail, it becomes more likely that this future will become our present some day. Therefore dreaming of our future aspirations is both fulfilling and helps us plan the steps to make dreams become reality.

Finding the balance of these seemingly contradicting perspectives is what I believe is one of the great secrets to living a fulfilled and accomplished life. In a way, the connecting point between dreaming big dreams, and living the moment, is the past. Reflecting on the past, not to blame people or events, but rather to make sense of our personal history from a more mature and grown up perspective, allows us to release any breaks that are preventing us to dream big. We start to understand why we are where we are, and by doing so, we prevent the past to continue shaping our future.

Flickr - Reflecting at Pima Point

In fact, reflecting about the past also allows us to realize the many successes we have experienced, despite any setbacks. It makes us appreciate that we are in fact incredible beings, seeking to create our best possible life, and thereby choose a more joy enhancing narrative of life. My experience has shown me that by rewinding time to make sense of key moments in our lives, we expand our awareness, and also our ability to live life to its fullest. Being fully engaged in the moment also allows us to dream big and set goals than can get us there.

In my case, I combine efforts to live in the moment, make sense of the past, and dream of an amazing future. Tools like practicing mindfulness and meditation really help me experience the moment, while journaling and reflecting on my thoughts help me make sense of the past. But my favorite practice is to visualize my future dreams, with lots of sense data, and thereby experiencing what I desire within the theater of my mind. Give it a try and let me know how it feels;-)

Image Resources:
Francesco Carpi
Emmanuel Gonot
Rafa Elias
Dwood Photography


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