Don’t Forget the Past. Learn from It.
WRITTEN by JOSHUA BECKER
There is a popular adage in our society that goes something like this: Forget the past, don’t worry about the future, live in the present.
There is truth to this statement. Far too many of us live defined by the choices we made in the past. This shouldn’t be the case. After all, each new day presents opportunity to become a new person on a new road destined for a new future. But those who choose to simply forget the past miss out on its fullest potential. There are valuable lessons to be learned from it. And those who choose to ask the right questions about their past are most prepared to live life to the fullest in the present.
Consider the lessons we can learn from our past. By simply asking the right questions, we can discover…
• Strengths that define us. The talents and abilities we use to navigate and provide value to this world define the lives we live and the change we can offer. And by recalling our strengths in the past, we can better recognize our opportunities in the present.
• Weaknesses that frustrate us. We all have weaknesses in personality and competence. When left unaddressed, these weaknesses limit our potential for impact and significance. Discover them. Recognize them. And learn to overcome them by seeking the help of others.
• Causes that energize us. Our lives find the greatest joy when we help others discover theirs. Which social causes have energized you in the past? What role were you able to fulfill in helping others? And how can similar pursuits bring new energy into your life today?
• Relationships that inspire us. Over the course of our lives, there are, no doubt, a number of people who have inspired us to become better versions of ourselves. What traits do they have in common? And can you surround yourself with more people like them today?
• Habits that invigorate us. Over the course of our lives, we employ a variety of disciplines to make the most of it. We discover a new diet, a new fitness practice, or a new morning routine. We experiment with them–some work, some don’t. Eventually, these new disciplines either become habits or they fade from our memory. Look back. Recognize the habits that brought energy, health, and invigoration into your life. And embrace them again.
• Motivations that compel us. Deep in our heart, our motivation runs supreme. It determines the decisions we make, the use of our time, and the words we choose to use. Understanding our deepest motivations is a difficult task. It requires stillness, patience, and consistent self-evaluation. But the more we discover why we do the things we do, the easier it is for us to make the most of the present we are living in today.
If we start asking the right questions, there are countless life-giving lessons we can learn from our past. Never feel that you have to be defined by it. But it would be equally foolish to forget it completely when it offers so much potential for the present.