When I was about 3 years old, our house was broken into. We weren’t home so it wasn’t traumatic, but I remember the mess around the room and that my piggy bank was broken.
I remember when I was about 6 years old and water-skied for the first time. I can almost still hear my grandfather coaching me lovingly on how to hold the rope and stand and let go if I fall.
In high school, I didn’t get in much trouble, but I did get sent to the Principal’s office because I was in a part of the building I wasn’t supposed to be…with my girlfriend.
I remember a time I went snow skiing (something I was not confident about), and a high school girl had to coax me down the mountain because I froze about 100 yards from the bottom. I made it down but was very embarrassed.
I remember my most embarrassing moment meeting my now in-laws (thankfully they don’t).
And I remember asking my wife to marry me and her saying, “No,” and it still being an amazing night thanks to some wise loving mentors. We’re in our 15th year of marriage and it’s the best yet!
I don’t remember a lot, but I do remember these times.
I have been thinking lately that how we remember things really shapes what our future looks like; it shapes who we are because of how we remember the past.
So here is what we can all work on together – choosing to remember the best parts of the past. And this can be a choice. Through conversations I have with students, we get to talk about how they can choose to see things through a negative viewpoint and keep focusing on how things aren’t going their way, or they can choose to remember the good times, the good qualities in people, the lesson they learned and use those positive memories to propel them toward an ever better life.
Here are some ideas for remembering better:
Work hard to find the positive. This is tough. I know because it is hard to see any positives in some family stuff I’m dealing with right now. And yet, I believe it’s there. I may not see it today, but I can choose to keep looking, and when I find it, I can only imagine how good that will feel!
Stop reliving the negative parts of the story. It’s often easy to want to tell others those negative parts. Either because we feel we handled it well or because it is what seems most interesting. The truth is, by focusing on these aspects, it reinforces the memory we have in a negative way.
Ask, “How can we get something good from this experience?” I had the kids in my car, and a guy cut me off, stopped in the middle of the road, got out and yelled at me about my driving. I couldn’t believe it. All I could think was, “How can I model for the kids in my car a positive way to handle a volatile situation?” Then, when it was over, I let them talk about it a little, andnsome of us shared it with mom who wasn’t there, and then we moved on. I said, “It was scary, but we are all safe and it’s over.” Getting obsessed with something like this can be very detrimental to our human ability to get back out on the road and go where we need to go, figuratively and literally.
Realize most things are out of your control. We love to think we control things, anything, everything. The reality is, we control very little and even what we do has outside influence and factors that can easily derail our control. Life is a constant learning process, and the more we can realize and accept that, the more benefit we will get from the experiences we go through.
As you can see, I’m right in the middle of figuring this out. Some of you are farther along then I am, and some could offer a fresh perspective or story to open my eyes to other possibilities. Take a minute and share this or reply back and let us know what insight you can offer so we can all keep living life better.