Is living in the now/present moment negative for you future/future plans?

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    This question/situation has been on my mind lately…

    I had CBT and mindfulness training for a few months a few years ago and believed it changed my life at that particular time when I was suffering with anxiety and other related issues – some of the more positive affects I think have stick around – for example, being able to sleep and deal with more stressful temporary situations. However, as more larger issues now face me, like major life decisions, I’m finding that living in the present is counter productive. If we are always living in the present how do we ever plan for a future, or future plans/goals – in fact how do I even find out what these goals are if I am always living in the present and not using my minds, but rather my ‘being’/ consciousness to explore decisions???

    Any help/discussion/advice on this would be great!

    Nina Sakura

    Dear Esther,

    Being present means being proactive and aware of what can be done for the situation at hand and the ones that will come.

    It means having a vision and clarity on what is in our control and what isn’t.

    For example, you are enjoying sitting at home reading a book but there a million things to be done in the coming hours, to be done the day after and so on.

    During that half an hour, just read your book. Don’t think about your plans. If you get an idea, write it down. If something really urgent comes up, deal with it. Being present is about responding to the need of the situation.

    It doesn’t mean you do one thing and then think 50 things about what needs to be done next month or year while obsessing about details you actually can’t control.

    So essentially –

    1) Focus on the moment at hand
    2) Be responsive though
    3) Differentiate between brain storming and useless rumination

    Hope this helps a bit. Am still struggling to do this properly though.



    Dear Nina,

    Thanks for you reply. Yes I am a little confused myself, to be honest.

    The best way I can describe it is to be fully present, often means detaching yourself from your past and future – so living in the now. But if I want to make a life decision, and do so being fully present i can’t see how i wouldn’t tap in to past experiences or future expectancies – which can lead to negative associations and unreliable or mistaken intuition.

    I can practice mindfulness and being present, but this is often in a state of doing not a lot – or something I enjoy. I can even do this for example when exploring a new city on a holiday – but this holiday had to be planned if you get my drift?

    Can we make big potentially life changing plans/ decisions within this state? I guess this is what I’m asking. And if not are our decisions always dictated by the past and future. Our ‘now’ is only our ‘now’ because of our past and what we decided to be our future or ‘now’. Does that make sense?


    Dear Eshter:

    You wrote: “If we are always living in the present how do we ever plan for a future…”-

    Living in the moment is not the same as living for the moment. Living for the moment means doing what feels good, or better now. Living in the moment is being aware of what we think, feel, perceive. This awareness in the now is necessary for planning for the future.

    For example: task X needs to be done, but you don’t feel like it and the thought of it causes you distress. You much prefer to do task Y which is pleasant. Living FOR the now would translate into starting task X, feeling distress, abandoning task X and doing task Y for the rest of the day.

    Living IN the now would translate to paying attention to the distress regarding doing task X- what does it feel like, where do we feel it (ex, shallow breathing), thinking: can I tolerate this distress? Thinking: what if I do the first step of task X, only the first and see how it feels after? Then experimenting, doing the first step- how does it feel? Where? Notice shallow breathing and take deep breaths. Think: what if I take 10 minute break and do task Y, then go back to task X..

    And so on.



    Dear Anita,

    I am talking about it in regards to making future plans, not temporary everyday decisions.

    If our mind is made up of past experiences that effect our judgement and alter what decisions we make, how can we understand what we really want and how do we make a decision in the ‘now’? And if the future is an illusion that we create from our past experience – how do we make decisions in the now without in put from past and present.

    Eckhart tolle for example, discusses ‘being’ and the mind as 2 separate things. If experiencing the present moment/now is in a state of being, how do we make future plans/decisions in this state?


    Dear Esther:

    I will give you then an example regarding “making future plans, not temporary everyday decisions”-

    In a previous thread you wrote: “Whilst i live in the family home, she pays my rent, food, everything – she has said if i move out she will help me with nothing and as a result i do feel trapped”-

    the future plan would be: to move out of the family home, maybe out of the UK, and live elsewhere, no longer with your mother OR stay in the family home for the rest of your life/ your mother’s life.

    To make this future decision, notice how feeling trapped feels like, what does it mean to you, how do you physically experience being trapped-

    Notice how you physically experience being comfortable in the family home-

    Get to know these experiences in the now, do not distract yourself, see what-is, now, and it may help you decide about trapped vs. comfortable. Maybe you will decide to permanently leave and be free.



    Dear Anita,

    wow, I am shocked that you feel its appropriate to continue a conversation i made clear i didn’t want to have specifically with you and on an entirely different thread.

    I will be ignoring all other posts from you – perhaps i misunderstood this website – i thought it was a safe place to have a conversation and not be judged. clearly i was mistaken. Your obsession with my previous thread has got way out of hand and i will be making a formal complaint.


    Dear Esther:

    You wrote in the above post that in your previous thread you made it clear that you didn’t want to continue that conversation with me, but it is not true. If you look at your previous thread, on January 19, your last words to me, on that thread, were: “What do you think?”- you invited more of my thoughts.

    Your problem here is easily solved: I will not respond to any of your future posts or threads. This is a promise. Please reciprocate by doing the same.


    Nina Sakura

    Dear Esther,

    The point of being present and mindful is to have a calm state of mind. The past is something we can’t change and the future is something we can’t know entirely for sure.

    I think some amount of objectivity is needed for such big decisions. The past and future are guides at best.

    Think of yourself walking a path and suddenly you are at crossroads.

    These crossroads represent the options you know. The negative emotions you feel in relation to the past have two roles here – to make you think of limitations and how to work around those limitations.

    The future seems like the destination you want to reach from taking one of the roads.

    How does mindfulness and being present help here at all?

    It helps in making you aware of your own emotions, the unpleasant ones especially when evaluating your choices. It helps you to differentiate between being emotional due to the past or being concerned.

    When you are mindful, you are able to see that despite this entire exercise of evaluation, you still have this moment with you. You are not in your past or a possible future unless you think about it, ruminate on it.

    I usually just take a good old piece of paper and write down the problem, possible choices, possible constraints and then take advice from others. Then if I still can’t decide cuz I am too emotionally tied to the problem, I think of the life I want 10 years from now. I ask myself – “What will I regret more?”

    But yeah, I am not Wiz at this.
    Most of the time I am a mess, lol.




    You ask some good questions, very normal questions to ask when digesting presence. Consider the story: there is a woman that is thirsty, and she goes hunting for a well. She wanders through a desert for a long time and finally finds a well. As she drinks, her body unwinds, stress melts, and she feels better. But now she feels chained to the well. So she goes a few feet, exploring, and then runs back to the well. Perhaps realizes she becomes thirsty when she leaves the well, but still wishes to explore away from the well. Wants to get off the cushion and go do stuff that pulls her mind away from the feeling of presence. She becomes scared that to feel open, she has to just sit all day by the well.

    Consider: she is the well, always. Said differently, plan the future, but be present, in your body, while you do it. Calm in the mind, while you do it. Those planned adventures won’t bring us the water, we bring the water to the adventure. See?

    With warmth,


    im 22 and hes 23. Me and my bf have been together almost a year. We became long distance for 5 months but closed it off and moved in together for two months but he had to move to a diff city an hour away for work temporarily. We had a great relationship and i know that he loved me so much but like other relatinships, we had fights and times we almost broke up but when i tried to break it off he would call me crying and begging and i did same. we didnt wanna break up we both know that. He would always tell me that he didnt wanna lose me and he said to be with me is a life plan he already decided. He also alwasy tells me im his type as a wife n the future. We had many future plans. We were gonna move in again in two months. Now, we argued a day before he broke up but the next day we were happy again. at night he texted saying i never changed even he gave me many chances. When we argue i would get mad when he reacts angrily and even i just wanna talk when we fight. He hates it. I begged him not to leave and saying that we were getting better but he blocked my facebook and other Social media. He deleted all our pictures and told our mutual friend its impossible to continue this relationship. However, he has two instagram accounts an i know the password for the other one and i opened it to unblock myself and send messages. He keeps dleting and blocking and i would unblock and send again. That night he sent me a message a final message.
    He said hes sorry he cant accept my personality and he appreciate everything. And he tried and waited the entire relationship for me to change but i didnt. That was the last message and i still keep messaging him but he also blocked my number. I made a fake account to message him again. I know. Bad move. The next day, I tried to open his Instagram but He deleted his account. Im so confused cause that acccount hes been using since 2011 and basically had all his memories. He could have just changed password and blocked me but why did he delete? He cut off all contacts and i sent a final message using the fake account that he didnt block saying i wanna be mature about the breakup and apologized for being emotional about it. He didnt read it and i assume he deleted it. he never contacted me since he broke it off. I started the No contact rule Its been a week since we broke up. When we fought before we would speak immediately and lonest time not speaking i think is 3 days. Other than the small arguments we have, I think our relationship is great and our sex life is great. Hes close to my family and we are best friends and like family. WEre both very comfortable with each other and im the only person he cried in front of or call crying when hes feeling insecure cause he has a high pride but he showed me everything and he told me im the only person he ever showed his real self (aside from family) I want him back and i am confident we can make out relationship work

    1. why did he delete it instead of just changing password?
    2. should i keep waiting for him to contact me first?
    3. What if he nver contacts me again?
    4. Next week is valentines day and also our anniversary can i contact him?
    5. he seems to not care at all cause he did not even give a closure or talk to me properly. What could possibly be the reason for that?

    Please give me advice other than my questions,
    Now im doing the NC and working to improve myself. Thanks in advance


    Hi Esther,

    Good that you are already reading/following Eckhart Tolle’s teachings on Presence.

    In the book ‘The Power of Now’ Eckhart has written that instead of worrying about the hundreds of things we can or should be doing we should learn to focus on the one thing we can do now. It might very well be that planning is the one thing that you can do now.

    Below links could help to give some clarity.

    How to Plan for the Future When You’re Focused on the Present

    Eckhart Tolle on Balancing Presence with Planning


    Best Wishes,

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 3 months ago by VJ.
    • This reply was modified 7 years, 3 months ago by VJ.

    I recently read a book by a woman who’s husband lost his long term memory and so literally lived in the present.
    It proved to be very challenging for both of them.

    There is a difference of setting goals and intentions and living in the future.
    Setting goals and intentions happens in the present. once made the art is to do by not doing, meaning ruminating and trying to force the outcome. Instead one responds in the moment and adjusts as require. the path may not lead to the intention you were pointing to, but it will go where you are meant to be. Living in the present create the mindset were you can accept that.

    Living in the future is living in the imagined dream of what might be, magical thinking and fantasy.
    Living in the past is living in nostalgia, either attempting to recreate some past moment or change and fix one.

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