How to Combat Future Stress with Present Blessings
“…a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.” – C.S. Lewis
I recently came across the previous quote while reading one of C.S. Lewis’ books. I immediately underlined it and decided to use it as sort of a mantra for my life over the past couple of months.
Lewis’ message is simple, yet challenging: stressing about the future causes you to lose sight of the gifts that you have in the present.
I will admit, trying to worry less about the future has been difficult, but I have begun to learn that it helps me reduce unnecessary stress and gain appreciation in all areas of my life. If you have a type “A” personality like myself or are prone to worrying or stressing about the future, then the following lessons are for you.
Stress is Rooted in Anxiety About the Future
We live in a fast paced and busy culture that constantly reminds us to be chasing our dreams or relentlessly pursuing our goals. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this advice, we need to be careful that focusing too much on the future does not consume our lives.
Because the dangerous thing about the future is that people naturally fear the unknown. It makes us vulnerable and uncomfortable. We begin to worry about things that are out of our control.
As a result, as C.S. Lewis says, we end up “hag-ridden” or agonizing over it. The daily stress produced from the anxiety of the future not only damages our health and relationships, but it also blinds us from noticing our present blessings.
“Count Your Blessings”
Anytime I used to complain as a child, my grandmother used to annoy me by repeatedly reminding me to “count your blessings”. Whenever I read C.S. Lewis’ quote, my grandmother’s reminder rings in my head. I am often guilty of being so focused on the goals or plans that I have for my future that I miss all the blessings that pass me by every day.
In fact, those blessings are used as “fuel” in the relentless pursuit of more blessings for the future. It becomes somewhat of an endless loop. We are blessed with something that brings us more time, or money, or happiness.
However, instead of pausing a moment to appreciate or enjoy those things, we turn around and use them as motivation to get more of it in the future. We are endlessly in “pursuit of the rainbow’s end”.
Applications to Health:
One of the most common components to health that hold people back from reaching vitality is too much stress in their life. Authors publish entire books about stress’ detrimental impact to physical and psychological health. Most people are aware that chronic stress will take years off your life.
Unfortunately and surprisingly, a lot of gyms and trainers are not even having conversations about it. Fitness gurus spend too much time debating on the best diet or exercise routine while ignoring one of the primary and underlying causes of disease.
The first step in reducing stress is by combatting your anxiety about the future by setting aside time to count your current blessings. It is ok to make plans and have goals, but not at the expense of being thankful for what is already in front of you. Otherwise, you will end up living a life of continual stress and worry. If that is the case, you can forget about your weight loss goals or those six-pack abs you have been wanting. Your greatest concern will become your longevity in life.