No matter how content or disgusted we might be with the life we have now, one thing is clear: we all want a brighter future.
But if you want to know exactly how your future is most likely to turn out, there’s a very easy way to see it: take a look at your past.
Look past the things unexpected things which happened to you that you had no part in – you were in a car accident, you were born into an abusive family – and instead look squarely at the things which you did have a hand in shaping.
If you do this for long enough, you’ll start to notice certain patterns – good ones and bad ones. People never do anything just once.
When difficulties arise, do you tend to see these obstacles as a spur to creative action, or as a sign to give up?
When people transgress you in some way, do you tend to give them the benefit of the doubt, or remember it bitterly for years and vow revenge?
When thinking about the work you do, do you value solutions that offer you personally a short-term relief, or solutions which could benefit the world for decades to come?
Whatever you tend to do, that is precisely what you will continue to tend to do, and in this way the past creates the future.
Change the past
So if you find that your past contains things that, as you project forward in time, don’t give you the future you want, what is there to do?
You have to change the past. And you do that by acting differently in the present.
The past is like a magnet, or like gravity – no matter how much willpower you try to use to create a brighter future, it will continue to compel you into acting in the way you’re used to acting.
But you can use the present moment to break the habit, to change the script. When you do something your past self wouldn’t have done, you are, in effect, creating a new past, a different past. The gravitational pull is just as strong, but you’ve changed the direction slightly.
If you keep this up, you will have created a completely different past, and that past will now be the one that creates your future.