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Looking Forward Versus Looking Backward

by Stanley Bronstein on October 14, 2008

Life Can Best Be Understood Backwards, But It Must Be Lived Forwards.

This post is about the BENEFITS and DETRIMENTS of looking back, AND the BENEFITS and DETRIMENTS of looking forward.

Benefits of Looking Backward

The most obvious benefit of looking backward is that hindsight is 20/20.  It is much easier to look backward than it is to look forward.

By looking backward, we have the opportunity to analyze everything we’ve done right and everything we’ve done wrong and learn from our experiences.

  • The opportunity to learn from our experiences is THE major benefit of looking backward.
  • The other is that when we look backward, we often focus on the positive experiences and we have the ability to live them over and over and over again.

Detriments of Looking Backward


  • We become so obsessed with the past that we never leave it.  In short, we become stuck in the past.
  • We look at the past through filters, that prevent us from seeing the past clearly.  If we can’t see the past clearly, we cannot evaluate it clearly.

Benefits of Looking Forward

Looking forward is what keeps us going.  When we have no hope of having a better tomorrow, then it is much more difficult to generate the energy necessary to thrive in our lives.

When we have no hope of a better tomorrow, we move from Thriving Mode, to Survival Mode.

One of my favorite sayings is:  Don’t just survive.  Thrive!

Take a look at your life, are you thriving, or are you merely surviving?

That is a tough question and our answer(s) to it can often be very painful and very revealing.

Detriments of Looking Forward

The major detriment of looking forward is that we can become so focused on the future, that WE FORGET TO ENJOY THE PRESENT.

Sometimes, we need to just sit back (even if it’s just for a few minutes) and enjoy the present.

Is it a pretty day?  Did you have a good exercise session?  Was someone nice to you today?  Is your dog’s tail wagging?  Simple things.

Who’s The Best At Living In The Present?

To me, the best “zen masters” I have ever met are my dogs.  I have NEVER, EVER, EVER, seen anyone who lives in the present more than my dogs.

They experience the moment and live it thoroughly.  Their tails wag; they jump up and down; they enjoy their food; they enjoy everything.

My 2 dogs are named Darmok and Jilad.  For anyone who is wondering about their names, they are based upon a Star Trek episode called “Darmok”.  Darmok and Jilad were basically 2 separate characters who faced adversity together and became life-long companions thereafter.

Here are pictures of my two dogs, Zen Master Darmok and Zen Master Jilad.

What Do You Think?

What do you think about these thoughts? Please share your thoughts below.

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Until next time, take care. Stanley F. Bronstein
Have you checked out my website that profiles the benefits of walking?

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Comment by Carole Gold
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October 14th, 2008 at 8:42 am

I couldn’t agree more…except for the “dog” thing. You’ve obviously never met my cats!

Comment by Stanley Bronstein
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October 14th, 2008 at 9:05 am

Having had a cat until a few years ago when he passed away, I would have to think they’re pretty good at the zen thing too.

Stanley Bronstein

Comment by Joe Cheray
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October 17th, 2008 at 1:15 pm

Yup cats are great Zen Masters lol as long as they have food in their dish, water and a warm place to curl up in to go to sleep they are happy little creatures.

Comment by Stanley Bronstein
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October 17th, 2008 at 8:30 pm


As for cats, you’re forgetting the one hour per day when they go crazy (in between sleeping and eating).

Stanley Bronstein


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