Neither the future nor the past
It does not make sense to worry about the future, as we don't ever live in the future. We live only in the present.
Most of the things we fear don't happen, anyway.
Besides, the main practical problem with fearing the future is that you think about the future situation from the thoughts, emotions and beliefs that you have NOW, which will be different when the future situation comes about.
So any future you imagine is, in this way, a lie.
There is an interesting approach to living in the present in "What's wrong with right now?", by Bob Adamson:
Turning to positive thinking, if we are to imagine the future, why not imagining a positive one?
It does not make sense to resent the past either. The thing is, you cannot change the past. Why would you like to re-live and suffer something you cannot do anything about?
Paramhansa Yogananda sums it all up in a sentence in "How to be happy all the time": "You live in a state of anxiety for the future, or of regret for the past".
Charlotte Joko Beck explains in "Nothing special" that Zen practice teaches us to be in the present and sit with whatever comes, pain or pleasure.
A distracted mind is a field where concerns and worries grow easily. Living in the present is key to nurture a life free from worries. Now, how can you get back to the present, easily and effectively?
The "This is me doing this" technique
Have you ever watched the movie "Grosse Pointe Blank"?
In this movie, John Cusack is an assassin whose psychiatrist tries to persuade him not to kill. In a given moment, the psychiatrist tells John Cusack to repeat to himself "This is me breathing" to help him calm down.
In fact, this technique works to make yourself come back to the present. It is a great positive thinking exercise that you can practice anytime and observe interesting results.
If you are washing dishes, start by saying to yourself "This is me washing dishes". Repeat it calmly, focusing on the very act of washing dishes. Pay attention to the elements involved: the water running down the dish, the smell of the soap, etc.
As you repeat to yourself "This is me doing (whatever)", you start feeling relaxed. Other matters loose importance; you're giving orders to your mind to actively focus on what you are doing, and only that. Then move on to the next task.
Keep on telling yourself what you are doing. "This is me walking upstairs", "This is me feeding the cat", etc.
Feel how more and more calm comes to you as you keep on repeating "This is me doing (whatever)".
After a few minutes of keeping focused and repeating to yourself what you are doing, you will probably experience a feeling of well-being and peace.
All stresses and worries may seem past or worthless. This is because your awareness of the immediate reality increases, leaving no room for thoughts about any other thing than the immediate present.
This can also be done through your senses. Follow the link for a useful tip for living in the present.
You can also try this useful phrase to step out of thought.
Keep focused. You are living in the present. You can learn how to use positive thinking in everyday life.
Top it up!
Talk to yourself positively in between telling yourself what you are doing. Say "This is me brushing my teeth" (for instance), followed by "I am calm and experiencing the present", "This is me brushing my teeth", "I feel good and relaxed".
Maintaining a positive attitude is one of the benefits of this technique.
It allows you to focus on this present moment rather than letting your mind play with hypothetical events. It silences all unnecessary worries and anxieties.
When practiced regularly, this technique gives you the chance of being more aware of who you are, where you are, and what you are doing.
There is a very good program that improves your ability to be aware of the present moment by simply listening to certain sound tracks daily: it is Holosync. This program literally increases your mental abilities when followed as directed. Find out more about Holosync.
There is a wonderful book that explains the importance of living in the present: "Practicing the power of now" , by Eckhart Tolle. It deals with issues like why we tend to escape the now, and it gives practical advice on how to return to the present.
Another book that talks briefly about the importance of living in the present is Richard Templar's "The rules of life". As Templar puts it, "Live here, live now, live in this moment".
A present poem
Let me leave you with this poem attributed to Buddha that reflects the philosophy of living in the present: