Sunday, September 7, 2014

Being grateful to our past

The future is a mystical place, often leaving us wondering in our present moment about its promises. You might have heard / experienced cliches such as "come to terms with your past", "move on", and the like. I'm writing today about being grateful to our past, all colourful versions of it.

I have written about our experiences in different articles on this blog, and about how each such unique set of experiences leaves us with a unique "behavioral signature", if you will. Often, we try to run away from our past in our lives, trying desperately to leave it behind, forget it, ignore any instances of it, but it's tough. We are human, and our minds with their fantastic "relational database"-esque functioning surprise us with their ability to bring forth thoughts from various instances in our past. This may leave us either pleasantly surprised or annoyed, depending on the recollection.

What if the only way to "come to terms" with our past is to be grateful to it? We are grateful to people who help us, to situations that automatically start to go in our favor, and to God - if you are a believer. We never seem to thank our past. If our experiences growing up haven't been pleasant, then we seem to be nothing but angry at our past experiences.

Think about this for just one minute - you are who you are right now, the way you are right now, only because of your past.

Everything we have experienced leave just a little wiser, just a little better at what we do, and just a little more grateful to be alive. If you avoided a dangerous situation in the past, that experience left you in a better position to avoid the same or similar situations in your present / future. Similarly, if you have had a pleasant experience in your past, there is something in that moment that makes you remember that "one thing" or "the set of things" that made the moment memorable and happy. All these are in your mind - you'll be surprised when you recollect it, but it's there. All these have made you who you are right now.

Every little thing from our birth until right this moment is what shapes our present behavior and influences significantly our future behavior. With that, we just need to be grateful to our past, instead of trying to "move on".

Being grateful to our past helps us resolve differences with people in our lives, helps us overcome difficulty, helps us appreciate others' lives and become just a little compassionate because we begin to recognize that they too are like us, and bit-by-bit, it helps us regain much needed peace in our minds. I say regain and not attain peace because we were all peaceful individuals in our childhood, until we started to adhere to the so called "social conventions". The best part of being grateful to our past is that we even get the little bit of peace to appreciate the reason why these social conventions exist in the first place. In so many ways, this begins our journey to lay the foundation for a happy place - in our minds and around us.

Trying to run away from something only makes us more fearful and worried. Appreciation of and gratitude to our past experiences pave a way to be able to face the future boldly, without apprehension. That is one way to approach the future, and hence, the present, happily.