If we were to have a conversation and I asked you to relate all of the bad decisions you’ve made in your life, I suspect that you wouldn’t have too much trouble identifying those decisions. Maybe you left home too soon. Maybe you married the wrong person. Or maybe you accepted a position that turned out to be a totally awful career move.
My guess is that you didn’t have any trouble thinking about the things that you did wrong. Now let’s change directions. Think of all the good choices that you made throughout your life. You supported someone who desperately needed your help. You gave away something that you cherished in order to improve the life of the recipient. Or you took a chance on a relationship that materialized into something extraordinary.
The reason for this line of thinking is that if you are at all like me, you often dwell on what you’ve done wrong rather than what you’ve done that was altogether right. Most likely, you don’t have any chance of undoing the unfortunate choices, making them only useful for learning purposes. Beyond that, what is the possible value of reliving the negative chapters of your life’s story?
As a best-case example, I often encounter students who are eager to tell me about all of the bad things that are going on in their homes. Most of them are fairly innocuous – my goldfish died, my dad yelled at me, etc. But whenever class discussions wander into the negative, I always channel them into more positive lines of thinking. This is exactly the same as remembering poor choices rather than celebrating the good ones.
To be sure, if we ignore our past mistakes, we are condemned to repeat them. But why not spend time on victories, celebrations, accomplishments, and meeting challenges? In spite of the fact that you can easily describe everything that you did wrong, make it a point to be conscious of everything that you did right. In addition to no-one wanting to hear about losing, everybody wants to hear about winning. You may be surprised to discover that it simply feels better. Shalom.