Do you want to be happy? At least happier? Then remember the terrible times.
Life is full of contradictions. We want to be in the moment, yet sometimes, when the present moment is sitting in traffic with a pounding headache, being “present” isn’t all that great.
Rather than focusing on being present, focus on having perspective.
Once, while I was in the hospital, I asked my doctor if was likely that I would die. He responded by saying it was highly likely. Bad moment. I remember another time, driving home from work, getting a voice mail that my wife was in the hospital, and that she’d had a miscarriage. Bad moment.
Hard and difficult circumstances are part of life. Everyone’s life. If we dwell on those moments, it can be paralyzing and depressing, and anything but happiness inducing. But when difficult times are intentionally remembered in doses, like a vaccine, recalled to contrast against the current moment, they can provide perspective in a profound way.
Sometimes when the present moment is not all that I wish it was, when I’m hindered by an injury or anxious about a looming deadline, I stop and think about some of my terrible moments. Those times in the hospital and moments of loss. And then I compare those moments to my current situation, and the present issues pale in comparison.
Most days are not terrible. In the midst of the mild annoyances of life, I remind myself of the terrible times in order to appreciate that today is not one of those days. And it makes me appreciate the moment a little bit more, grateful and just a bit happier.
Want to be happier? Don’t forget your terrible times.