Some time ago I was given a class assignment to list the significant events in my life. Then rate them as generally negative or positive.
I decided to do this in my mind during one of my morning meditations. I thought of the events that made the greatest impression on me, listing them in my mind, and thinking whether they were positive or negative events. As I thought of one, another would pop into my mind. Some were in chronological order, some I remembered because of associations with other events.
Two interesting things happened while I was doing this exercise.
Both surprised me because I feel I have trouble remembering positive events and people in my history, and especially, things that made me happy – times when I was really happy. I often find it difficult to find things to be truly grateful for, especially on the spur of the moment.
The first thing was that, by far, most of the significant events were positive.
The second was that, of the negative events, several were being repeated. In different ways, mind you, but they were essentially the same kind of event. I also realized most of the negative events weren’t that negative in retrospect. I actually made a choice in the majority of the negative events. Each appears, now, to have been a many-faceted learning experience.
Breaking up with a lover, getting a divorce, giving up on a dream, changing jobs (even getting fired), moving, having medical problems and procedures; these are all unpleasant situations, but making the choice to go through with them inevitably, in the end, led to more positive circumstances.
The only thing I felt I had no choice over was the deaths of loved ones. With those, it was my attitude and perspective, which I did have a choice about, that allowed me to move on.
So my challenge is to change my habit of remembering only the tough times. I need to replace that habit with remembering the good times or … feeling GRATITUDE!
John Kotre says in White Gloves; How We Create Ourselves Through Memory, “Whether predictable or not, the changes in our lives lead to changes in our memory.”
A little further on he also says, “But something else must be done to memories when we experience a new self. The old one must be cast off, as far away as possible – painted over, if you will.”
So we actually have to work at remembering good things. That can be done with practice. One way is to note, every day, some things for which we are grateful. I find myself saying, “I’m glad that…” because I have every intention of building happier memories of the present and future.