10 Feb 2015

How To Be Happy Today

I read a quote recently and it got me thinking about the past. What is is. Where it brings us. And how we get beyond it while still appreciating all that happened to get us to where we are today.

Here is the quote by Andre Maurois – “The first recipe for happiness is: avoid too lengthy meditation on the past.”

The past is a funny thing. It defines all of us. It allows us amazing memories that can make us laugh or cry or learn. So it goes without saying that sometimes – often times – you miss your past life. You romanticize it and fall in love with it all over again. The parties. The people. The holidays. The way it used to be was so great. It’s sort of like a Gatsby complex. Nick Carraway said, “You can’t repeat the past.” “Of course you can,” said Jay Gatsby. But that’s simply denial, for Gatsby and for you. The past wasn’t as great as you remember it; otherwise, you wouldn’t be in this situation. I am not saying to bury the past. It made you who you are. Every mistake you ever made brought you to this place.

Leona Lewis sings “Better In Time,” a song that speaks to me in so many ways, perhaps because it admits that time helps, but time doesn’t heal all wounds. I wish it did. What time does do is allow you a way to figure out how to deal with the end of the relationship and the beginning of a new life. I spoke with a woman recently who was telling me about the fact it had been three years since her divorce. She was no longer in love with her former husband, but that didn’t mean he didn’t still have an effect on her. She was on Facebook and saw the news on her timeline that he was getting married. To her credit, she wasn’t friends with him on Facebook; however, due to mutual friend’s friend and social media it’s sometimes impossible to avoid getting information you don’t want. In this case, she didn’t want it. Not one bit.

She told me after her initial hurt and a flood of all those old feelings of hurt, sadness and angry, she got very real with herself and remembered that the past was never as great as she remembered it and in fact was not very good at all. She remembered that she had to be honest with herself about what was instead of painting a picture that was never really there.

In my case, I have done the same thing and am still guilty of it, until I use what I learned through the grieving process and therapy to help me move forward the right way. Even to this day, when I get some “news” about my former husband’s present life, I have to remind myself when I was part of it, it was certainly not the way I wanted to remember it. It is not easy to “shake the past,” but it is necessary to prioritize it appropriately.

And of course after that, when I went through another ending of a relationship that I had been in following my divorce. It was with a person who I had memories with from the past. And, new memories within the present. When I broke it off with this old “new” flame, the feelings of loss from my divorce came flooding back to me.

Each day I work to utilize my own words to make sure I am not living out a fantasy that is not there. I make sure (as difficult as it always is) to move forward. I make sure I don’t paint a false picture of my ex. I stop taunting myself with photos, reminders, emails and conversations about him. When you do those things, you keep that person very present in your life. Work hard to move aside all reminders of him. One day you won’t have to do that, but do it while the wound is fresh. Let it heal.