Shaping the future

A thought at a time

The Buddha had once said ‘we become what we think’, and later some wise man followed it up with ‘change your thoughts and you change the world’. Each one of us agrees with the both of them. There is no doubt our thoughts are very instrumental to how we perceive situations and how we deal with our own life. If we can divide life, in terms of time and space, into 3 — Past, present and future, I believe we can classify people into the kind of thinking (whether past, present or future) they are inclined to. The largely accepted Maslow’s pyramid reveals one thing — All human beings have the same needs, yet every human being has a unique journey and circumstance; so what drives their behavior to the same event may be different.

Maslow’s pyramid

If self fulfilled is what we want to be, I want to discuss about how thoughts can shape us to be that.

I accept everyone cannot only think about the past, present or future. It is a combination of these thoughts that makes every human being survive. But here is a simple way of understanding how an inclination towards one of them can change us.

Unhappy souls — They are inclined towards the past. Whenever they look at a past event where they have failed, they will waste no time and blame the failure on someone else. This way, they keep blaming their bad luck and the bad people they came across for their failures and have too much pride for their past success which leaves no room for further improvement.

Happy fools — We hear them say “go with flow” too many times and tend to change their plans way too often. For them nothing can be planned and we need to take each day as it comes. These people are happy but ignorant about the future and find bliss in that ignorance.

Problem solvers — These are people who go to extreme limits for the cause they believe in. In a micro level, remember your friend who always wanted to be a doctor since childhood and ended up becoming one? People like him, with their sheer ability to set goals and pursue them, have shaped their future.

Most people would like to dismiss future as something they have no control over but there are others who think they can influence it.

I strongly believe in the latter. The future might be a mystery, but we have the power to influence it, to shape it into what we think is better. For that, the first step is being a future inclined person or a ‘problem solver’.
When I told this to a friend, he said “thinking about the future is worrying”. I responded to him quoting from Alibaba Founder Jack Ma’s interview “Today is a struggle, tomorrow will be a struggle but day after tomorrow will be beautiful”. This is what problem solvers do, they are optimistic about dealing with tomorrow’s problem.

At a micro level, all of us have been an unhappy soul, a happy fool or a problem solver at various points in our lives. But a mere realization of this can help shape ourselves and the environment. At the most basic level, being future inclined would mean thinking about the future, setting goals and achieving them.

So if ‘we become what we think’(according to Buddha) and our goal is self fulfillment(according to Maslow), then being a future inclined person is the first step to self fulfillment and the mantra to deal with our thoughts would be— Learn from the past, absorb the present and build the future.
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