The Present

This is a philosophical post. But I wouldn’t write it if I don’t think that it could help your personal life. The present is the time you’re in at the moment. You’re reading this post. Staring at the screen and thinking whether you should really read that post. The present is the most interesting and also most important time. Because it is the only time you can act in. The past is ONLY here to learn. There is nothing else about it. If I would go really philosophical I could say: You don’t even know the past happened. You also don’t know much about the future. The only thing is the present.

But how could this help you in any way? I run into many people talking. They are saying stuff like: “I should never have gotten married/children.” or “When I had studied more I would have passed the exams.” There are many more of those statements. They talk about the past. But in a non-constructive manor. You know there are things in the past that help you for the present. But those don’t. Me myself just got rejected by many master programs but I don’t think too much about it. I am in the present. I have to move on. And the faster I am able to move on the further I can go. So I only think about the consequences of the past. So I need to look for another masters-program. I think about what was wrong with my applications. But I don’t wast too much time, because it was not clear why I have been rejected. So next time I make a better application and repeat the whole process. I’m not sad about the past. So only think about the past for a short time. As long as you really think you can extract any information from it and move on.

But what about the future? Isn’t the future the present of tomorrow? Yes it is. And you have to think about it. But don’t think too much. The present is much simpler. For example you can think too much about the future. You can make plans year for year but you can’t guarantee anything about it. So in reality there are two types of decisions to make. The ones where the present is changing and you have do decide “What now?” and the ones where you realize something new and you have to decide whether you change anything about your life. The last one can also be more subtile, like “Should I start studying now or later?” But the more you think about it the more you see that there are only these two. The one that can come at any time. A moment of realization that you were slacking around and than the decision to do something about it or to reject any change. So you are deciding for the future. You are always only deciding for the future. But the decision is in the present and if you can live in the present you will have a hard time making decisions.

Last but not least I want to tell you how I cope with this. And how I managed to stay most of the time in the present. (It is not the “Power of Now” Present. Your mind is allowed to wander, and to think all the time.) The main trick to achieve most things is to make yourself an emotional bond to the thing you want. This looks like this for me. Whenever I am complaining about the past or worrying about the future. I get intentionally upset when I realize it. Like playing a role. Like I discipline myself. After some time and some realizations it worked for me to get automatically upset about complaining. The downside of that is that I also get upset when others complain but well I just hold myself back.

Aspire “Success” or “Good Odds of Success”

The difference between both may seem negligible but it isn’t. The first is the one that is coded into our biology. We look at people that are successful and think that they have done something right. And it is often the case that they have but if you only look at success you may confuse luck with success. Maybe you think the last winner of the lottery has done it right, because he is now rich. Or the heir of some rich guy has done something right. But if you look what they have done to be so successful you will find nothing. They haven’t earned it. I don’t want to sound jealous because I’m not. But I think it is wrong to educate yourself with the examples of lucky people. It won’t help you. The best you can do is to optimize the odds of success. And when you do that you will never play the lottery and you will also never win it. But that’s okay.

success

Another aspect of aspiring good odds of success is that success itself is not so relevant anymore. In this framework success is just something random which may come or may not. It should not be relevant for your mood. You can’t ensure success you can only make it more likely to happen. Success and failure are not important anymore. Maybe this isn’t clear. But let’s say you make a bet: You give your friend 10$ when he tosses a fair coin 10 times and it shows 10 times tails. If he tosses any heads he gives you 10$. Now should you play the game or not? Of course you should. You will win 1023 in 1024 times. But now reality strikes and he tosses 10 times tails. You loose. But have you made a bad decision? No, you haven’t. It is just that you want to have the best possible odds of success but what in reality happens is not in your hand. So although you have failed you have not made a mistake. That is what I mean, when I say success and failure becomes irrelevant.

So the next time you fail think back and answer the following question honest: “With only the things I have known at the time of the decision, did I make a wrong decision? Or was it not possible to see that this will happen?” If you come to the answer that you have decided correct then don’t let the failure pull you down too much because it isn’t your fault. Of course there are still failures. But you can decide before you do the action whether you want to fail or succeed. Either you do the thing with the highest odds of success or you don’t. If you don’t, you have failed.