Closely associated with the importance of the “little things” is the importance of living in the present. It is not easy to truly live in the present.  Saying that may seem a bit strange since there is a true sense in which we cannot do otherwise.  Physically, we simply cannot avoid living in the present.

Psychologically, the situation is very different.  Psychologists point out that a great deal of our conscious life and psychic energy are concerned with or directed toward the past or toward the future. Some even go so far as to give percentages.  The past and the future keep harassing us.  Many things in the past can make us feel uneasy, angry, and hurt and there are worries about the future.  The regrets pull us backward into an unalterable past.  The worries draw us into an unpredictable future.  Real life, however, takes place here and now.
Some people tend to live consciously so much in the past that their world gradually becomes narrower and narrower until they reach a point at which the present holds little meaning. An example:  Probably we all have all met a person who has enjoyed some significant success (at least in their own estimation) and then simply keeps returning to that accomplishment in memory. They bore their friends and embarrasses their  family with endless recounting of it, failing to move beyond it, to live in the real world of the present and to grow.

What perhaps is more common is a person who has experienced a significant failure, set back, painful event and broods over it.  Such a person may become eaten up by fruitless and unresolved guilt feelings. They may refuse to forgive a real or imagined offense. They may harbor a hostility or hatred that does much more harm to the one harboring such feelings than to the offender. Such a person may lose hope, lose confidence in a loving savior, even teeter on the edge of despair. There are many variations and degrees in situations like those but they all have in common the fact that they are harmful ways of living in the past.

There is also a kind of living in the future that is harmful. An example of that is the person of good intentions who is confident of success but sees not only the success but whatever it takes to achieve it as things that will happen later. “I will overcome my faults. I will achieve the goals I have set for myself … but not right now. There is plenty of time.”
It is like the famous prayer of St. Augustine as he was struggling through the process of conversion and to break with his mistress: “Lord, make me chaste, but not right now!” What happens, of course, in such cases is that the concrete steps, the means to the goal are also postponed. There is a good definition of means that may be helpful to recall here. It is this: means are simply the end in the process of becoming. That is a way of reflecting the truth that if we keep putting off the means we will never achieve the goal. To do that is to fail to live realistically in the present.

There is another way of living in the future that is unfruitful at best. It is being frightened or discouraged by what the future may hold and yet being preoccupied with it much in the way a person becomes fascinated by danger or paralyzed by fear.  If a person were to focus on all the difficulties and pain their future life might hold they would hardly have the courage to go on.  But taking each one in turn, in the present, those difficulties can be managed.  God does not give us the strength and the grace today that will last for the next ten or twenty years or the rest of our lives. What he has promised is enough to take care of each situation as it arises. “You can trust God not to let you be tried beyond your strength,” St. Paul tells us, “and with any trial he will give you a way out and the strength to bear it. (I Cor. 10: 13)  And Paul  came to understand that in a very personal way in his own life. When he talks (2 Cor. 12: 19 ff.) about the thorn in his flesh he was given to keep him from becoming proud, he saw it at first as a continuing burden that looks like too much to carry for the rest of his life. He goes on to say, “About this thing I have pleaded three times with the Lord for it to leave me, but he said, ‘My grace is enough for you.  My power is at its best in weakness.’ So I shall be very happy to make my weakness my special boast so that the power of Christ may stay over me, and that is why I am quite content with my weakness, and with insults, and hardships, persecutions and the agonies that I go through for the Christ’s sake.”

Living in the present means being present to yourself here and now; present to the
Concrete situation in which you find yourself and dealing with that; not constantly
looking over your shoulder to the past; not standing on your tiptoes, trying to peer into
the future.  And it means being really present to others through respect, care, and
concern for them.  And you can’t really do that unless you are first present to yourself.