Everyone has a past. Often times, the things that have happened to us shape our future. We can do three things with our past. We can LIVE in the past, we can DWELL on the past or we can LEARN from the past. Whichever category you fall into may go a long way toward determining your future.
Just be careful not to end up like Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite in the following video clip . . .
1.) LIVING in the past“If you are still talking about what you did yesterday, you haven’t done much today.” (Coach K)
You have achieved success in the past and you still think on these things. The past may be the glory days for you. It may keep you from improving and getting better because you’ve already achieved success. Remember that the past is just a place of reference, not a place of residence.
Living in the past allows you to reminisce about better days. You remember how great of an athlete you were or your prom date or your awards you won. It also takes your mind off of your current job troubles, marital strife or out of shape reality. When thinking about living in the past, I am reminded of the lyrics from a Bruce Springsteen song entitled “Glory Days”
“Now I think I’m going down to the well tonight
and I’m going to drink till I get my fill.
And I hope when I get old I don’t sit
around thinking about it, but I probably will.
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
a little of the glory of, well time slips away
and leaves you with nothing, mister but
boring stories of … glory days.
Glory days, well they’ll pass you by.
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye.
Glory days, glory days.”
2.) DWELLING on the past
“No man is rich enough to buy back his past.” (Oscar Wilde)
We sometimes hold ourselves hostage to things we’ve done in the past. Mistakes we’ve made, regrets we have and hurts unforgiven all contribute to this prison of the mind. We have a hard time moving past the chains of yesteryear. It is hard to run fast if we are saddled down with excess baggage. We do not have the power to change the past.
Doe Zantamata once said, “No matter how much you regret, how angry or sad you become, your yesterdays will never return. The world of ‘should have’ or ‘could have’ or ‘if only would have’ is a world of pointless suffering.”
3.) LEARNING from the past
“The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.”
We should be life-long learners as we continually improve our lives. We experience countless learning opportunities each day. We all have had struggles or regrets in life. Instead of dwelling on them, we need to learn from them.
How could we avoid them next time? What could we do differently if faced with similar circumstances? We also have all experienced our fair share of accomplishments. When thinking about these successes, how we turn them into future opportunities? What can we do to ensure similar outcomes down the road? What circumstances have changed that will make us have to adjust and adapt? The most successful people in life are those who are life-long learners. How will you learn from your past?