Does anyone here have a crystal ball that sees into the future? Do you have a genie’s lamp with unlimited wishes? And most importantly, do you think having those things would make you happier?
Perhaps you’ve seen the Twilight Zone episode of the man who dies and goes to heaven. In heaven, he can have everything he could ever dream of just by thinking it into existence. Over time, the man becomes sick and tired of winning every game of blackjack, of being constantly swooned over by beautiful women, and having everything and everyone at his disposal. The predictability and excess drove him mad. When the twist is revealed at the end, we find out this man was in hell all along.
This may seem like fiction, but this is actually something monks and mystics have known for millennia. What we think we want, may not be best for us. And what may be best for us, we may not want.
The fact is, when everything goes our way, there can be no growth, no wisdom, and no appreciation. We need the bad stuff to notice the good stuff. We need loss to appreciate what we have. We need to make mistakes so vital lessons can be learned. This mysterious universe is chaotic and unpredictable, but none of us would really want it any other way. (More on how to deal with life’s regrets in my latest podcast.)
With our highest wisdom, we can know that mistakes and successes are just different points on the same path. With wisdom, we can see the good in the bad. With greater understanding, we can embrace fear, love mistakes, relish regrets, and commit ourselves to accepting our choices, letting go of the past, and making this current reality the best reality it can be. (And you don’t have to be in a monastery to achieve that. You can do it in a noisy, chaotic city. Here’s why I consider NYC as my greatest teacher.)
Pain can be our greatest friend and even greater teacher. If we have the courage and clarity of peace to look at it, we can see its lessons and even its beauty.
Oftentimes, when it comes to emotional and mental pain, we are our own culprit. We talk to ourselves in ways we would never tolerate anyone else speaking to us. We believe our own criticism and we have a hard time believing our own — or other people’s — praise.
The past can never be negative. It was what it was. It happened in the past and it no longer exists but in our memory. If we learn from the past, if we use what we’ve learned, and if we can move forward with greater wisdom and experience, then we can even turn a painful past into a positive present.
As this week ends and a new one begins, let’s remember that no one knows what tomorrow will bring, and let’s be grateful we don’t! We all did our best with what we knew at the time. There is no failure unless we give in to doubt, fear and defeat. There is no regret in the present moment. The question is, can we welcome each new moment with open arms, or will our arms be closed, still clinging onto the past? The choice is up to us.
PS – A lot of people have both asked and answered the question, “When is the best time to meditate?” Is morning meditation better than in the evening? In this article, I share what’s worked for me in my own personal experience, I share which times of day have the most benefits, and I pour over the scientific evidence that backs them up.
You are Not Your Past
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