If I was called away from this planet tomorrow by my Heavenly Father, and I could only leave one message for my grandchildren and all the children to come, it would be that unless one lives present in the moment, all the lessons of the past are useless and the successes of the future disappear like vapor. For it is how we use yesterday's information today that makes for a better tomorrow. This may seem obvious and somewhat trite to some, but it has been a hard fought lesson in my life.
In the daily pursuit of a better self, one must constantly do battle with the demons that are rooted in the frailties of human beings. There are those who believe that human beings are, at their very core, good. But this is a mistake, for there is no greater vessel of larceny than the human heart. The corruption and vice that lurks beneath the surface of human beings has no equal in any other living thing on earth. Animals operate on instinct, which allows no room for pettiness, jealousy, and myriad other character flaws only resident in human beings. But the ability of humans to consciously battle these demons of our nature and become higher spiritual beings is something unique to our species.
I have spent a substantial portion of my life allowing the pettiness of such human behaviors as jealousy, greed, sloth, anger, lust, and others distract me from the present, thereby negatively affecting my future. I have recognized that successful persons stay focused on the present using the lessons they have learned from past failures. I think it was Abraham Lincoln who wisely pointed out that failure was a much more apt teacher than success. And a man who not only learns from his failure, but others as well, is not only successful, but wise. There is no better place to implement the lessons of the past than in the present. If one's focus is stuck in the past, or racing ahead to the future, it leaves to little energy for the present, where life is ultimately lived.
Staying present in the moment to achieve success in life can be compared to playing poker. In poker, it is not so much the cards one is dealt that leads to success, but rather how they are played. One can easily lose with a winning hand if they allow themselves to be bluffed into giving up. And the inverse is also true, i.e., a losing hand can win by the player's representation of a better hand than he actually has. But success, whether in poker or life, can not be possessed in the past or the future, but only in the present. The way in which the present is lived can actually change the past, for the present is the past when gazed at from the precipice of the future.
So give the past only the attention to its lessons and the future only a fleeting glance of desired destinations, but give the present your energy, talents, and ambitions. Do good in the present, for yourself and others, and let the past sleep and the future awaken as it may.