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Understanding The World Through Travel

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Dec '09

Your past was valuable


How would you change your past?

Image if you had a special power. Imagine you could search back through your life and change what happened. Imagine you could interject at a key moment to stop yourself from making that certain mistake, from getting into that relationship that ended in heartbreak, from having that embarrassing situation, or from falling out of the tree that caused you to break your leg and miss out on summer vacation.

These would be good things right?

What if you could go back and give a younger you a certain skill like playing guitar to save yourself years of practice… Or go back and give yourself the physical fitness it took years to achieve.

There’s no reason you wouldn’t want to right?

But what if changing all these things came at a price… The simple price that you wouldn’t have learned from these experiences. Would you still want to go back and change these things at the cost of what you have learned?

I wouldn’t.

Your past was valuable

I believe that many people regret, or wish they could change part of their past without realizing how valuable that past is to them today. Every negative thing, every stupid mistake, every failure, every heartache, and every struggle all contribute to the skills, knowledge and awareness you have today.

Without the past pain you wouldn’t appreciate the current joy as much.

Without learning from past mistakes there would be nothing to prevent you from making them again.

Without making past failures you wouldn’t have learned and grown from them

Without previous heartache how could you appreciate future love as much?

Without struggling to obtain a certain achievement how can you truly appreciate the rewards of it?

If you didn’t take years of practice to learn the guitar the self pride attained from getting so good at it would be missing. If you didn’t experience that past heartache you wouldn’t know what it felt like, and you might not appreciate your current relationships or you might hurt others in the same way.

Times of growth

There is a desire within us to want to return to key moments in the past and fix it so that our whole lives would have been easier and happier, but I think doing that would rob us of some of the best experiences of our lives that were key in forging who we are in the present. Think back to all the times in your life where you learned or changed the most as a person, where you really became something more than you were. Chances are it wasn’t when you were relaxing living an easy life… Our biggest growing experiences come out of times of hard work and struggle, when we learn from our mistakes or find ways to overcome obstacles.

Often we will encounter times in the present that seem to be disastrous. We feel that whatever’s happening is the worst thing for us, and we regret the situation we have put ourselves in more than anything. When we passionately regret what has happened we forget to search for a lesson or positive experience from it. We fail to see that one day we might look back at this currently painful time and realize how important it was that we experienced it.

Take the right lessons from your past

It’s important that we take positive lessons from our past rather than negative ones. Instead of learning valuable lessons from failures, some decide the ‘lesson’ is that it’s best not to try things to avoid future disappointments. Others, instead of learning and appreciating future relationships more, after a heartbreak will decide instead that its best not to open up to anyone ever again. Some, after experiencing a sad situation will decide the world is a sad place rather than enjoying the good future situations more in contrast to it.

Ensure you get the most out of any future times of struggle or mistakes made by reflecting on the situation and seeing how it will make the future you stronger or more knowledgeable. It’s possible to have negative things happen without any benefit if we forget to ask ourselves what positive things we can learn from any given situation. Learn from your mistakes as soon as possible to ensure your past was valuable to your present.

Ending thoughts

While it’s easy to regret the past and think of how things could have been different, the reality is you can’t change what happened so it’s best to realize how valuable that past was for you and take as many positive lessons and as much personal growth out of it as possible.

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