What do you value more, now or the future?
Ask that each time you make a decision.
Where do you place more value? A simple question that can have some very complex details and intricacies. Every decision we make is underscored by our value of consequence. Is the decision you are making based off a present feeling, past experience or some future potential?
So often, when suggesting that someone could make some positive shifts in their health (such as skipping the regular dessert or cutting down alcohol consumption) I get a response like, “But I want to live life and have fun!”
They are in essence telling me they value the present over the future.
This is fine. If people want to live for the moment I am all for it. If people want to place more value on the future that’s fine too. People can make whatever choices they want, I just want them to be aware of the concept of time and value. I love the feeling of being in the moment and having fun. The problem lies when people spend a little too much time valuing the present and not enough time considering the future (and then complain that things don’t change they way they want).
Most of us do try to strike a balance between present and future value and spend most of our lives juggling between the two. Valuing the present one moment and then trying to make some decisions based on future value to make up for it. Being humans in the modern world, this is part of our daily lives. It is almost impossible to escape. But I think it goes against true human nature. I think we are naturally designed to seek something I like to call timeless value.
These are decisions that place equal value on past, present and future. Satisfying the present while supporting long term health and happiness. The most obvious is food choices. Each meal carries with it several decisions. We often get caught up in food that is either good for us now or in the future. A doughnut and a latte might carry some present value but it certainly lacks in future value. A few glasses of wine? Probably the same story. Eating a “healthy” meal you do not find enjoyable is most certainly valuing the future above now. Skipping a meal? Much more long term value than present. Eating some junk food now to try to deal with something in the past? Probably won’t be good for your future and might not be a good present choice either. The ideal situation is to find foods that give you timeless value. Eating good quality food that is tasty and nourishing, energizing and satisfying. Short and long term fulfillment all wrapped into one.
Exercise is another realm I like to seek timeless value. Engaging in activity and exercise appropriate for your mental and physical state that is enjoyable and helps foster a stronger and healthier long term human. Forcing yourself to do a workout because you feel guilty that you haven’t worked out in a week is putting the past above the present and virtually ignoring the future. Going on a walk instead might be the solution with timeless value. Doing a huge workout, pushing yourself past your stress threshold to get the momentary adrenaline rush and bragging rights is likely to be damaging to your long term health. Stopping when your body tells you it’s time to wrap it up has timeless value. Even our interactions with other people can fall into this realm. Sending a scathing, critical email to someone might feel good at the moment but is probably not the best timeless decision for you or the other person.
I am not writing this to say what decisions are right or wrong for each person, each moment of every day. I am writing this to get people to slow down and be aware of their decisions. I think the more timeless decisions you can make in your life the better. We will all have our moments of valuing one time over another (i.e. my massive raid on some dark chocolate covered cashews a couple of days ago) but in the end if we can end up making most of our decisions timeless then I think we put ourselves in the best place for having fun and living well.
Put another way: Be Timeless.
Don’t be someone who lingers over the past, is constantly absorbed in the moment or is obsessed with what’s to come. We can live for all of those times, all wrapped into one natural energy: living presently, in the moment, while having learned from the past and being mindful of the future. Making decisions that value all of these equally. Living a life where virtually every decision puts value in past, present and future…
Thanks for reading, have a timeless day!