I recently came across a quote by the ancient Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu. In my role as a psychologist working with mainly depressed and anxious people, I believe this quote holds a fair bit of truth.
If you are depressed, you are living in the past
If you are anxious, you are living in the future
If you are at peace, you are living in the present
If we look at the types of thinking related to living in the past, regrets and ‘if only’ thoughts tend to be a focus. Depression is often associated with a sense of loss.
People who feel anxious tend to focus on ‘what if’ type thoughts about the future, imagining negative scenarios which for most of the time never eventuate. Anxiety is usually associated with a sense of threat.
And for people who focus more on living in the present, yes, there certainly seems to be a sense of peacefulness about them. Engaging in meditation and mindfulness exercises can help us to focus more on living in the present which means experiencing the Now moment as it is, second by second.