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Future Thinking Does Little Good

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We’re having absolutely fabulous weather here in Corvallis, Oregon. As I type this, it’s sunny and headed toward the mid-fifties. I had a delightful morning run. The sun is now streaming in my office window and I can feel the fresh air blowing in. I love it.

Except when I start future-thinking. I fret about the winter we didn’t have.

Will it come in March or April?
Will it kill all of the buds on the trees?
Will this create problems for the local farmers?
What about the summer?
Will it be crazy-hot?
Will there be a lot of fires?
We need more rain!

Once I start down this path, it quickly turns into a death spiral. I stop enjoying the sunshine, the crocuses, and my open office window. I start worrying about all of these things that are completely out of my control.

As I’ve been noticing this mental weather pattern of mine over the past few weeks, I’ve been catching myself in the act and stopping this future-thinking.

On my run today, as soon as I stopped fretting, I noticed so many more crocuses that I usually notice. It was because I was present. I was in the now. I was living today.

It got me thinking about how much I miss because my mind is focused up ahead.

This weather one is a simple example. Of course I can’t change the weather. Future focus on that is obviously a waste of time for me. I’m not a farmer. I have air conditioning. And forest fires don’t come to Corvallis.

But what about the other areas of my life? There are plenty of times I future-think and believe that future-thinking will somehow help me. Every time I think about the future and not the now, I am missing the now.

Future-thinking is not necessarily a bad thing, just when it becomes a repetitive pattern full of worry. We can future-think about our bodies and health, the weather, money, relationships, work, you name it! Most of the time it just fills us with worry and offers no benefit (unless you think stress is a good thing).

Do you future-think? Can you commit to stopping your future-thinking pattern in one area of your life?


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