The stories of our lives are based on our everyday experiences, but, writing an autobiography that fairly represents our accomplishments is up to us. We decide how to interpret what we have done and what has happened to us. Looking back on our lives, our memories feel real. In reality, our memories are constructions of our minds. They are the point at which our head and our heart meet. How we remember the past has everything to do with positivity and happiness.
The good news is that we can train ourselves to view our memories in a positive light. We cannot change what happened to us. But, we can change how we interpret what happened to us. Take a moment to think about your life to this point.
How happy are you with the decisions that you have made, in general? Do you have any regrets? Are you ready to look at your past in a more positive way? Please watch this video and join the conversation.
Thinking negatively is easy. In fact, we seem to be hard-wired to forget the good and remember the bad in our lives. From a survival perspective, this makes sense. When our ancestors were hunters-gatherers, remembering a dangerous situation could save your life. The same is not necessarily true when it comes to positive experiences.
We no longer live in a state of constant danger, but, our minds don’t know that. In an attempt to protect us from the lions and tigers of our past, they expose us to the modern dangers of stress and depression. For this reason, thinking positively about the past is an active process. We need to learn how to focus on the good in our lives. This is a long process, but, you are ready to take the first step.
The first step to seeing the good in your past is to learn to reinforce your positive memories. Every sad memory contains the seed of happiness, if we are willing to look for it. Many people have experienced a divorce or separation from a long-term relationship. Even if you are still happily married, you can almost certainly remember a time when someone close hurt you deeply. In this situation, is easy and natural to focus on the details of the event – the arguments, tears and negativity.
We discount the happy times in our previous relationships, preferring to think that they were terrible through and through. But, is this really accurate? More importantly, will thinking that we “wasted” 20 years of our lives make us happy?
There is a place for negative memories, but, we also need to make room for the positive in our past. Why not look at the pictures of you smiling? Or, write a story that brings your entire experience – good and bad – into perspective.
As you gain a more balanced view of your past, you may even find within you the ability to forgive. And, nothing will make you happier than the capacity to forgive others, and yourself. Is there anyone who you have not forgiven for something that they did? Perhaps it’s time to take another look at what happened, from a more balanced perspective?
Learning to see the major events in our live more positively is a long and conscious process. But, there are small things that we can do every day to be more positive. One of the simplest things that we can do to form more positive memories is to keep a positivity journal.
Make or buy a lovely book and find time every evening to write a few sentences describing something that happened to you that day. Be as colorful as you can with your language. Use plenty of adjectives and describe the people you met, the places you went and what you learned. Were you able to help someone? Perhaps you completed a task that was on your “to-do” list for a long time?
Try to write about your day from a positive perspective. Whenever you feel a negative memory forming, try to see the situation from another perspective.
Don’t dwell on what you didn’t do. Focus on what you accomplished. Can you think of one positive thing that happened to you today? Take a moment to write it down.
Learning to see the past more positively starts in the present. Don’t depend on your memory to paint a complete and accurate picture of your life. Find ways to treasure positive memories in the moment. Take pictures of happy moments. Pay attention to the funny things your grandchildren say, and write them down. Keep your positivity diary with you and write down positive events that happen during the day.
Most of all, whenever you start to feel yourself feeling negative, take a deep break and smile to yourself. Try to see the situation from a more positive perspective. The best way to avoid negative memories is to avoid making them in the first place.
Practice paying attention to your emotions. What is one word that describes how you are feeling right now?
So much of our happiness is determined how we interpret our past. It is natural to see the worst in our past. But, just because something is natural doesn’t mean that it is good for us. Learning to reframe our memories in a more positive way is a conscious process.
To be happier, we must learn to reframe our positive memories and record the positive events in our lives every day. In doing so, we will break the chains that are preventing us from achieving our full potential, which is the key to lasting happiness in the future.
Think about one memory that usually makes you sad. Write down one positive consequence that came from this situation – even if it was just that you learned an important, if painful, lesson.
Take action today and share your thoughts in the comments below. If you found this article helpful or inspiring – share it with a friend.