Why You Should Romanticize the Past
Last week, I talked about the dangers of romanticizing the past. Most lessons in life have multiple vantage points, and, this week, I want to talk about the benefits of romanticizing the past. If people don’t have a positive view of the past, then they may be paralyzed and unable to move forward. If we nitpick everything that went wrong when we look back, we will mostly see ourselves as negative. That narrative will prevent us from moving forward. If an old couple thinks back to every argument or disagreement that they had and not focus on all the positives, then they can conclude that they had a bad relationship. If a parent only thinks about crying babies or all the times that they had to discipline their children, then they may conclude that being a parent is not that joyful.
In essence, we have to romanticize the past in order to look back and see an amazing life. While meditating, Noah St. John came up with this amazing observation. He writes, “when your opinion of your past, present, and future tends to be positive, you will be happy. When your opinion of your past, present, or future tends to be negative, you will be unhappy.” At the heart of an amazing life is satisfaction and happiness. You can have all the money, the friends, the loved ones, etc. However, if you don’t view your life as amazing, then everything you have will not matter. Part of an amazing life is recognizing that you have an amazing life. It’s that simple.
We have all seen people who have everything and are miserable. And, we have all seen people who have less than ideal situations who are happy. I believe that happiness is a choice.
When I look back on my childhood, I romanticize it. When I look back on my teen years, I romanticize them. The same goes for my college years, my personal life, and my professional life. During my entire life, I have faced unbelievable challenges. If I nitpick every single challenge and don’t romanticize my life, I will see my life as negative.
What holds some people back is the way they faced a set of challenges in the past that they can’t seem to let go. I’m not saying that people should ignore or not look at what holds them back. However, understand that dealing with challenges is just a part of life. Part of an amazing life is to minimize the effects of your limitations. That includes, sometimes, letting go of the past. And, yes, romanticizing it.