The Final Countdown is a movie released in 1980. It is about a modern-day aircraft carrier passing through a time warp to somewhere in the Pacific Ocean on December 6, 1941. The USS Nimitz is in a position to destroy the entire Japanese fleet headed toward Pearl Harbor and change the course of history. The discussion among captain and crew is this:
Should we destroy the enemy before it can destroy the base at Pearl Harbor? If we do, what would that mean?
In the end, circumstances prevent the ship’s captain from giving the order and history remains unchanged. Now, you might be thinking, so what? Why this story about a sci-fi movie? The reason why is because if we aren’t careful, we can spend a lot of the day thinking about the past or worried about the future.
As far as I know, time travel hasn’t been invented, so we cannot change the past or fast forward into the future. The only moment we have is today. As Joan Rivers once said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is God’s gift; that’s why we call it the present.” Practicing mindfulness techniques can help you focus on today. When you find yourself fretting over the past or worrying about what might happen next, ask yourself this question, “Is thinking about this helping me or hurting me?”
You can also use your five senses to quiet your mind. Sit quietly and begin by focusing on your breath. Breathe in and out and notice what you hear. Don’t make judgments, just notice the sounds. Then, move to your sense of smell. Again, not judgment, just notice what you smell. Next move to sight; what do you see? If you are in a familiar place, see if you can look at things with a new sense of appreciation. Now, notice your sense of taste. Move your tongue around your mouth and notice what you feel. Finally, use your sense of touch to notice where your hands are, how your feet feel in your shoes or on the floor. If you are seated, notice how your body feels in the chair.
Use this exercise any time you are feeling anxious about what did happen or what might happen. Bring yourself back to the here and now. If you use either of these techniques, please come back and comment on your experience.