Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Many people like to nitpick at this quote but, to a certain extent it is spot on. Without knowing it, the great Lincoln was basically saying, “Use selective memory for your GOOD, not for your BAD. You’ll only be as happy as the thoughts you keep on repeat in your mind.”
Or something like that.
You’re Wearing a Groove
Have you ever heard an adult say something along the lines of, “I remember the time, when I was in 3rd grade, my mother embarrassed me in front of the whole class. I felt so mad at her..” I have heard many variations and it always irks me.
First of all – seriously? You’re going to keep someone on the hook for YEARS? Years?! It grinds my gears when adults choose to remember the negative things their parents did to them (unless, of course these things were physically or emotionally abusive… in this case, therapy might be their only resource for letting go). More times than not, they are embarrassingly small things the parent did.
- They didn’t allow them to get their ears pierced as early as their friends.
- They yelled at them in front of friends.
- They didn’t let them get a license until they were 17.
- Blah blah blah blah…
Wouldn’t it be better and healthier to hold fast to good memories?
- The time they did without new clothes for themselves so you could have the “coolest” clothes.
- The time your mom surprised you by cleaning your room (which looked like two tornadoes had hit it).
- The time your dad, even though he was dead tired, took the family out to eat and then to a ballgame.
- Etc etc etc…
It’s called “Selective Memory” AND it’s called common sense.
I have a gazillion faults and shortcomings. I mean, we could trot them out, one by one, all day and only scratch the surface. BUT, this whole “selective memory” thing, I’ve got this one nailed! Heck, I was exercising “selective memory” before it even had a name.
I simply prefer to focus on the good and push the bad back into the cave it deserves to be in. I am also really quick at being able to do this. I don’t carry grudges or hold on to “done me wrongs” and I certainly don’t throw them up to or about others. What’s the point? Seriously… What. Is. The. POINT?!
Here’s a funny thing about thoughts. They wear “grooves” into your mind and the more you entertain a particular thought, the deeper the groove and the easier it is for it to ride into town (your mind) at any given time, bringing its nasty, toxic energy with it. Who in their right town mind would want that?
Naturally, it isn’t just kids remembering things their parents did. I have also frequently heard spouses play the “on the hook” game as well as parents about their kids.
“I remember when my daughter didn’t call me on my birthday until 5:15 that night. It was like an afterthought!” Then when you ask, “Was it your last birthday,” and they tell you it was 12 years ago! Or a husband will bring up the time his wife let a car “noise” go so long the transmission had to be replace… you know… 8 years ago.
Let people off the darn hook!
Oddly enough, people who hold grudges against others never seem to think they’ve EVER made mistakes. It’s always kind of funny, actually. I even heard a couple arguing once and she was giving him the, “You said this… and you said that… and you said…” and he broke in and said, “Yeah – but do you remember what you said?!”
Her answer… “THAT DOESN’T MATTER!” I had to laugh, in spite of myself. She wasn’t just cute when she screamed it, she was incredibly typical. No one wants to remember their own wrongs.
You know why? Most of us have very positive selective memory when it comes to ourselves! What if we used very positive selective memory for everyone else in our lives? Our relationships would be sweeter and we would be infinitely happier and more pleasant to be around.
I don’t know – it’s just something to think about.
A Few Thoughts about Thoughts
- Random thoughts can and DO pop into our minds. How long we allow them to stick around is well within our control. We choose to either toss them or dwell on them. Always remember that the more you dwell on them, the darker the imprint – the deeper the groove. Dwell on positive thoughts and memories, which will leave you with positive, happy imprints and grooves. The alternative is ugly.
- When so-and-so did you so very, inexcusably wrong, remind yourself that you have zero idea what they were going through at the time. Whether it was a parent or spouse who very well have been worried about finances, their own aging parents, or a million other things or a child who may have been dealing with things you never realized – cut people the same slack you would want sliced off for you. Think about the positive things they did for you… you know there are many more of these!
- Choose your thoughts wisely – they point you in the way you’ll go… physically and emotionally.
- What you FEEL you ATTRACT.
You are going to spend the rest of your life with your thoughts. We should choose them more carefully than we do anything! Whether you realize it or not, thoughts are building blocks and they will build you a tower of bitterness or a gazebo of happiness. The choice is yours.