Sometimes we go through life thinking we have no idea what tomorrow will bring. Other times we know almost exactly what the next day will look like. On traveling days, for example, I know what time my alarm will sound, when I will depart for the airport, and even what I will wear. On a casual weekend day, I may have no clear idea beyond knowing that I will eat three meals.
I recently learned that we have a lot of control over the variables that affect our future. At first I thought this was along the lines of fulfilling life's checklist, like working hard, becoming successful, and then being happy. It was actually about visualizing probable futures, connecting our hearts to the key elements, and then allowing the most optimal situation to fall into place.
It sounded like a lot of gibberish to me, until I came to a realization on the golf course this week. As I was considering the available strategic options for my approach shot onto the green, I recalled my recent journey from Italy to Switzerland. We had a tight schedule that involved planes, ferries, automobiles, and also a tour of the ruins of Pompeii. I was apprehensive that one of the legs would not go as planned, causing the whole day to unravel. We had been there before: missed flights, exhausted children, and an infuriated husband. Just the thought of this made my temples throb and my neck kink. In the absence of concrete ways to assert control, I repeatedly centered myself to envision numerous stress-free scenarios. The essential ingredients were departing and arriving on time, a magnificent visit to the ruins, and no motion sickness. The actual day was a seamless operation from our early morning departure from Capri to a peaceful evening in Zurich. The unexpected bonus was that we met the most delightful tour guide in Pompeii. It was the perfect manifestation of my meditations.
The recollection of this trip inspired my golf game. I stood in front of the ball, counting the score up to that point. The opportunity for par was at hand. I wondered if I should hit a sand-wedge uphill from the pin, and let the ball roll. If perfectly executed, this would be awesome. I could also hit a bump-and-run with an 8-iron. This could be easier, providing I hit the ball evenly. I mentally rehearsed both shots, visualizing the ball landing in the most optimal position for a one-putt. I chose the 8-iron because it would be more forgiving. Success! With the ball in perfect position, I easily completed the putt for par and walked off the green ecstatically. In that moment I understood that we are already well trained in creating our realities, and further, our desired outcomes.
We can use the same visualization strategies of our probable futures with daily decision-making, in matters big and small. The process in creating all realities is the same. The idea is to imagine several different future outcomes that meet the same internal goal. Start with identifying your heart's desire: to experience life with ease and elegance, be happy, or find a soul mate. Then visualize multiple possibilities, like movie trailers, of your fantastic future life. Picture yourself on a fabulous vacation as a singleton with your fun friends, a romantic getaway with your partner or a harmonious holiday with your family. All of these scenarios are probable futures of being happy in different settings. One variation of those versions will unfold for you.
Mila Atmos is a columnist whose work has been featured by The Huffington Post, Quartz, and Medium.
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