Life is a journey that never goes as we expect. As one friend told me, “We’re all victims AND villains. As much as people hurt us, we also hurt people.” The tendency for many of us is to remember the negative, hurtful, or disappointments. Recently, I was confronted with how much of the good I tend to forget. Watching the faded colors of a video featuring much younger versions of the adults in the room, and long before the 20-something adult-kids were even a thought, I laughed at the out-of-character dancing and antics of myself and other normally-reserved family members. It was hysterical and quite entertaining but a wave of sadness unexpectantly hit. As hard as I tried, I had no memory of those moments. None. Not even a flicker. Truthfully, I was embarrassed that so much had been forgotten and I wondered how much of our (my) perceptions of life are based on selective memories.
Granted, most of our photos and videos will only capture fond moments and never paint a full picture of life. Yet our memories of the negative moments also fail to paint the full picture. However, I find that those people who are the happiest are the ones that not only create happy moments but make an effort to remember the good.
That moment in my mother’s basement, watching videos of our family dancing and laughing was a wake-up call for me to put more effort into remembering the good. Some of us are addicted to licking our emotional wounds. We like feeling sorry for ourselves. Oh, we’d never admit it, but as another friend lovingly confided in me once, “Perhaps you’re too attached to self-pity”. She was right. It wasn’t a harsh rebuke but was given at just the right moment when I was ready to hear it.
God continues to drop breadcrumbs in my path to show me how one can dramatically change their life just by changing their thoughts, words, and…what one chooses to remember. I’m reminded of the verses in the Bible which say:
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. - Psalm 19:14 (NLT)
"...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
For some, remembering the good comes naturally, but for others – especially those with difficult circumstances – they must be intentional. As one who had the habit of navigating toward focusing on offenses and injustices, I’m learning different ways to keep the fun memories forefront in my mind. Several years ago I set out on a personal journey to change my life by doing one thing: changing my words. While there’s still certainly plenty of room to grow, my life did change, dramatically. Even better, now I’m being challenged to remember better by building better memories. This doesn’t ignore or discount the pain, but what it does do is lessen the impact of those troubling situations considerably.
As I transferred my thinking to focusing on the blessings and good things in my life, suddenly I was quite overwhelmed with the goodness of God! Everywhere I looked, all I saw was His goodness and it was intoxicating!
I could see that God had been chasing me with His goodness and not only caught up with me, but ran me over like a bulldozer and kept right on going into my future. In my imagination, I looked down at my hands and body and saw myself dripping with the goodness of God! Then, when I looked into my past, all I could see was the residue of His goodness and kindness dripping and soaking up my past. Then, as I look into my future, again, all I see is the path of His goodness.
When we remember the good, how we respond to a variety of circumstances and people changes. How we perceive our current life, the past, and even our future, completely transforms. As a result, our lives shift for the better. Next thing we know, we’re happy, even if not much of the world around us ever changed. A mentor once said, “Get happy first and then the rest will come.” So true! We get happy by focusing on the pure, lovely, good…
Remember the good and then watch blessings blossom in your life!
5 WAYS FOR REMEMBERING THE GOOD
- Create a memory or prayer photo album. Last year, I whined I didn’t have many friends. Knowing that wasn’t true, I decided to think of all the people I had met during the year. Collecting photos of people I met that year, some only once, I printed the images on mini polaroid film. Then, I created a photo album of the people God brought across my path. It revealed how full and rich my life is! (Plus, I remember to pray for them when I look through the album.)
- Change how you journal. Typically, my journals have always been as a best friend. A place to cry and release all the ugly inside so I didn’t have to throw it on others. While I still do that to some extent, it is much less. Being intentional to record the good, pleasant, and happy moments alleviates anxiety and prepares my soul for peaceful sleep. Plus, I have fond memories to go back and read.
- Create A Blessing Jar. Several years ago I discovered a pottery Blessing Jar . It’s a fantastic way to jot down notes of good things. Then, during the holidays, share the blessings of the year with your family and friends. You’ll also find lots of ideas on Pinterest for creating your own blessing jar.
- Make a note on each day of your calendar. Whether you have a calendar on the wall* or in your work planner, at the end of the day write at least one good thing about the day. Be sure to go back every few weeks or months and re-read all the good things!
- Share a photo on social media every day (or as often as possible) and use #rememberthegood. Tag #paolalane (or @paolalanemag on instagram) so we can enjoy the fun with you!
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