Have you ever considered how many times your mind takes you into the past? Have you ever imagined how these moment by moment trips steal the joy, pleasure and success that awaits in your present? I have. And I can tell you with a great deal of humility and honesty that many of these treks into yesterday, last year or twenty years ago have caused the lack of inner peace more than any other activity I can remember.
I'm not sure why I have been ruminating on this more than usual the past few months except to say that recent circumstances in my life have given me the gift of insight and contemplation about the real value of life and its present moments filled with opportunitas as well as challenges and forced me to look at life differently. I'm not sure if you have ever had periodsin your life like this, but I can only say if you haven't – you will – sooner or later.
When I say the past is dead – I'm not implying that it was bad or good, filled with failure or achievements or wonderful memories or memories that make your hair stand on end. My only point is that the past is dead. Let me explain.
Last week you had a wonderful time with your kids. Last month you got a promotion. Last year you moved into your dream house. Ten years ago you married your soul mate. These were wonderful times. Or – yesterday your car had a major mechanical issue, last month a dear friend passed away or five years ago you lost your job. What's the difference between all of thee events? Well, yes, some of them give you positive memories while others cause nothing but pain or regret.
But in the end they are all in the past – gone – yes you can relive them but here's the problem – while you relive them you are in the past. Whatever happened – happened – it's gone – history – regardless of whether your interpretation of it was positive or negative.
I started thinking – how much time am I stealing from my present by spending this time in the past? Can't change it, but I can still learn from it. Can't improve it but, I can still apply its lessons. Think about it for a minute. How many times in an hour or a day do you let your mind take you back in time and I don't care if it was only twenty minutes ago?
The past can be a wonderful teacher while we are experiencing what is happening and yes, many of us don't learn these lessons the past offers us until much later so I'm not saying don't ever go there. What I am saying is when you go there ask yourself – why am I doing this – justification, self abuse or making myself feel unworthy or trying to give yourself rationales for past decisions, mistakes or failures?
In the end the past is the past – it's gone. So I'll leave you with a few simple questions.
-How much time do you think you spend in the past in your mind every hour?
-How are these trips stealing from the value of your present?
-Why are you going there -for justification? Pleasure? To keep some
emotion or feeling alive?
I have some wonderful memories when my kids were younger, when my career was in high gear and when life was filled with happiness and accomplishment. I also have some terrible memories of times of discouragement, despair, bad decisions or choices, trials and challenges that tested every bit of my resolve and courage.
But in the end these visits serve no valuable purpose in my now moments and they often distract me from focusing on what is possible for me now and in the future.
Keep your happy memories where they belong – in that special place in your mind when you feel the need for some nostalgi,a but also put all of those unpleasant ones in a different place and lock the door and throw away the key.