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Winning the Future in the Present


Maturity is achieved when a person postpones immediate pleasures for long-term values.

–Joshua Liebman


   A couple of weeks ago, I listened to an interview between radio personality Dave Ramsey and psychologist Jordan Peterson. The discussion centered on business relationships, but as Dr. Peterson talked, he raised an idea I wanted to dive into this month. He described it as “subordinating the long-term victory with the local victory” and suggested it was something we should all try to avoid for the most part. 

   

   How often do we trade in the long term for the short term? I pondered on this for several weeks leading up to this blog and surmised that most of us do this frequently. We do it with our relationships, our finances, our health, our spirituality, and the list continues. Years afterward, we realize that we are shrinking and dying in the shadow of an albatross made up of our loneliness, our dependence on creditors, our failing health, and our lack of purpose in life. I truly believe that we, as a culture, are habitually throwing away our tomorrow for the here and now, as if we will never meet up with those choices again. Author Frank Sonnenberg said it best, “We’ve become so addicted to instant gratification that we’re blind to the impact it has on our lives.” I have done the very thing described, so do not feel ashamed or alone if you have too, but what I am advocating here is a different thought pattern, one that will help us value tomorrow over the rush of instant gratification.

   

   Earlier this week, I had the day off for Presidents’ Day and decided on Sunday that I would get up early and go for a solo hike on Monday. When my alarm sounded just before six on my day off, I considered sleeping in. I thought about not going at all and staying in my joggers all day too, but I had already prepared my gear, and I hate reneging once I have told myself I plan to do something. I managed to leave the house at a reasonable time and drove into the mountains. The sun was out. It was chilly, but there was promise for midday warmth. While walking through the woods, there were times when I could not help but smile at the sound of wind and water rushing through the valley below, wildlife scampering through the woods, and the occasional babbling of a stream. I took time to sit on the peaks and feel the warmth of the sun and the wind against my face. For a little while, the things associated with my daily grind did not weigh me down. I would have missed all that if I had given in to the urge to stay home and lounge all day. I like to think I traded the mundane for the memorable, and yet– it was just a simple walk through the woods. The point I wish to make with all of that is that changing your mind toward the long term can happen one day at a time, one interaction at a time, one goal at a time. 

   

   There is a lot of cultural emphasis on ‘living for the moment,’ but we cannot forget that all our moments add up to our future. How we treat people today can determine whether they choose to interact with us again in the future, the life habits we practice today can determine whether we have health or misery in the days to come, the restraint we show with our finances today may determine our ability to live comfortably when we are no longer able to work as we once did. I want to be more committed to spending my now in a way that improves my later. What about you?


Get a glimpse into my hike here!




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