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Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

Popular wisdom discourages us from looking back in time. For example, the oft-cited quote from Bil Keane is, “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” I would argue that the past is a gift as well – if we use it productively.

We all know what a non-productive use of the past looks like: Nursing age-old hurts. Refusing to forgive. Continually talking about the past instead of living in the present. Those are all ways that we use the past to hurt ourselves.

What we need to do is use the past to help ourselves. I realize that that isn’t as easy as it sounds. Most of us have painful memories of events that we wish had never happened. However, even if we’ve had a difficult past, we can use it to our advantage. Below are some ways you can do just that:

  1. See How Far You Have Come: So often, we feel like we aren’t getting anywhere in life. Reaching our goals seems interminably slow. Certain problems linger longer than they should. But I challenge you to look back merely three years ago. I suspect that your life was a lot different then. My life today is so different from what it was three years ago, that I can scarcely believe it. Life changes, even when we don’t realize it.  When you consider the past three years, really give it a hard look. If your life is far better than it was three years ago, give yourself a pat on the back! And keep up your good habits. They have served you well. However, if your life is worse today, then ask yourself, “What have I been doing during the past three years that isn’t working?” Make some changes based on your answer.
  2. Realize that Life Is All About Second Chances: We all get knocked down by life sometimes. Some of us have been knocked down by divorce. Others have been knocked down financially by the recession. Or perhaps you’ve faced challenges in your health. Realize that if you are still breathing, that means that every time you’ve been knocked down, you’ve gotten up again. It also means that you’ve been offered second chances. Those second chances are opportunities to be happier and more successful than you were before. Be willing to make the most of them.
  3. Gain a Better Understanding of What Makes You Happy: We’ve all had moments in the past when we felt truly happy. Take time to think about when you were happy and why. Then try to figure out how you can recreate that same happiness today. For example, my husband often talks about spending time on his grandmother’s farm when he was growing up. Those were happy times for him. Today he gardens and cooks using some of her recipes. Doing those things makes him happy, even now. For me, my happiest times growing up were at church. As a young person, the church provided me with stability and solid adult influences. Even today, there is a contentment that I feel when I go to church which is hard to explain to other people. If you look back on when you were happiest, you can create some of those same happy feelings in the here and now.
  4. Say “Thank You” to the Angels in Your Life: Once in a while, a memory of someone who was incredibly good to me comes to my mind. Very often, I haven’t thought about that person in years. I consider that to be a prompting by God to send a note of thanks. Over the years, I’ve sent notes to people who haven’t heard from me in decades, and boy, have they been surprised! We all have people who have made our lives so much easier, or who have said just the right thing at the right time. They truly are God’s angels on earth for us. Consider sending a thank you note to a relative, special teacher, friend or mentor who made a difference in your life. You will feel good, and you will make their day.

The past does not have to be a burden. In fact, it can be an incredible asset if we use it in the right way. Consider looking in your rearview mirror every so often. You may be surprised by what you learn. Then use that information to make today even better.

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