The Art of Living: Creating a Successful Past

Updated: Jan 6

All lives, be they short or long, poor or rich, sad or happy, are made of three components: The past, present, and future. Which of the three is most important to us may shift at any given time during the course of our lives.

From the moment we are born, our lives have started to run their courses with every minute, hour and day flowing by, laying the foundation of our past even while we're still in the cradle listening to a lullaby.

In this regard, even newborns have a past, though ever so short or uneventful. For now, they dwell mostly in the present, nurtured and controlled by others until they are capable of using their legs to run free, their minds to process their world and their memories to store their lives.

Generally speaking, young people's attention is more centered on the long, promising futures ahead of them. Their present can be uncertain and haphazard as they learn to maneuver the world and try to become its newest masters.

When you're young, you can afford to make foolish mistakes. Those mishaps can even be beneficial if their owners are smart enough to extract lessons from them, reducing the chance of the mistakes being repeated. Past mistakes can be costly and hurtful, but successful futures are often built gloriously on top of them.

Whether we have spent it meaningfully or squandered it wastefully, time will sail on and our golden years will come to us in due time. By then, our pasts are long, and we only wish that our memories were strong enough to recapture every exciting moment of it. As we slow down our lives, we rely on our mind to chase after our past and relive it as we sit in our rocking chair.

For some unfortunate people, a good memory can also be a curse when their past is ridden with wounds and sorrows, a place too painful to revisit. They would rather bury the bygone as if it never existed. For them, the best choice may be to live in a forever present or future.

Our preference for the past, present, or future can also be affected by our individual personalities: The bold and curious tend to be more adventurous and look forward to their future endeavors while the conscientious types may focus on a successful present. The brave may charge back toward a painful past and confront it while the careful indulge in living from moment to moment.

There is no right or wrong way of embracing our past, present, and future. We all need to find a suitable balance of the three to create a life that is uniquely ours. The secret to an ultimately successful, happy life, however, lies in the art of building a past that will not come back to haunt and bite us, and crafting a present that will create a better future.

Refections From the East Column

By Qin Stubis

Qin can always reached at

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