Monday, December 15, 2008

Finding The Balance Between Today And Tomorrow

Do you know anybody who seems to be wasting their whole life waiting for tomorrow? How about somebody so absorbed with today's problems that they're decisions don't anticipate future consequences? Both paths tend to make a person less successful/happy than they could be.

So what's the appropriate balance? OK, that's rhetorical. There probably isn't a general, perfect balance. However, some amount of balance is essential. The nearsighted person is the one who doesn't see the train coming. The farsighted person keeps falling into holes. How do we fix our vision?

The trick is to see both the present and the future (oh, and learn from the past but that's another topic). Have you even seen "The Dead Poet's Society"? That was the first time I heard the term "carpe diem" or "seize the day". We should strive to live today to the fullest, however, we also need to make sure that we can live tomorrow to the fullest as well.

First I want to clarify something. Living to the fullest is not the same as focusing on maximum gratification. Eating out at expensive restaurants, buying designer clothes, getting more house than you can afford, etc. are not seizing the day, they're wasting it. That's where looking to the future comes in.

There are many things in life that bring enjoyment. Sometimes sacrifice can actually make you happy. Consider the purchase of a new vehicle. Buying a more expensive car than you can afford (but it's fast or big or safe or stylish!) is not getting the best for yourself. It's introducing a monthly dose of high financial stress as you struggle to make payments, argue with your spouse about finances, cut back on food and other things, max out your credit cards, etc. I submit that seizing the day is as much about understanding the real consequences of your actions as it is about enjoying every possible aspect of the day. After all, how much nicer is a dinner out when you know that you don't have any past due notices waiting for you at home.

So, my advice to you is to seize the day, not to waste it.


sara said...

Very interesting to think about!

Kristina said...

Makes me think of "Our Town" where the main character laments us not really spending the time we have with our loved ones (because we are always in a hurry to get to the next thing).
I think for me that is part of balance - getting to spend a little time with my family each day. It has proven to have some wonderful experiences.