“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness.
We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.”
I want to start by saying that I kind of hate the fact that this quote is so accurate. It immediately reminded me of something I talk about a lot with my friends and I also mention this in the journaling class in the foundational lessons of my membership, The Way of The Heart.
For the most part we are always striving to do more, accomplish more and be more and behind all of those goals there is always a longing to feel more… most of the time to experience emotions that are sweeter yet, as the quote suggests, memories of these moments are rarely remembered as much as those that are painful.
So when we think about it, the foundation of most of the things that we create is mainly built upon all of those painful memories, difficult experiences, mistakes, failures etc. We may create them with the hope to feel better but inevitably the rules or structures that are put in place in our personal or professional lives are all derived from those hard memories. When I think about the way that I built all of the different processes and systems in my company, Papel & co., most of those were all implemented after we had a difficult experience with a client, with a vendor, with our own approach to accomplish our tasks and so on.
But, where are the sweet feelings influencing what we do? They are the guides and the compass. So, yes, as much as I do think this quote is a great reminder to re-frame the way we see failures and painful memories so that we learn to use them in our favor, I also want to give the peaceful and sweet feelings its place.
Now, the thing about these good feelings is that because we don’t have that obvious scar that works as a reminder, most of humanity is currently not using those good feelings as guides or compasses. There is not a clear understanding that behind all those things we want to accomplish there is an expansive feeling waiting to be experienced. And not only there is a lack of awareness for the longing of these expansive feelings but we also don’t have a very clear understanding of what specifically is allowing us to have those good, peaceful, joyful and sweet experiences on a regular basis.
What I mean by this is that we mainly define those sweet good feelings with experiences like: quality time with my loved ones, flexibility with my time, creative freedom etc. But, we usually don’t use a specific memory to describe those good feelings. However, if we think about “failure” for example we naturally gravitate to thinking about a specific situation that we or someone else already experienced.
And why do I think it’s important to make this distinction? I remember listening to a podcast one time, I believe it was Malcolm Gladwell who was being interviewed and he said “our minds create the past we want to remember, not necessarily what happened” and this brings me to what I believe is one of the most important practices we can cultivate in our daily lives and why I wanted to write something using this quote because it lead me to recognize that so much of our focus is on the way we handle pain and failures because of that obvious scar that it leaves behind but the lessons of those sweet, peaceful energies are incredibly blurry which in many cases means that we don’t have a clear understanding where and how we can create more of these good experiences.
I’ve always loved journaling but I didn’t do it as a daily practice until a couple years ago. I started with a Gratitude journal, because it was less time consuming than just writing without a specific prompt. Through this practice I started to recognize that I had 2 options when I chose what to write about, I could either keep writing the same thing over and over and it became more of a habit that I was doing to just check off a box and “feel better” about myself or I could actually give myself the time to connect and listen to my heart and truly recognize what I was grateful for. From there it evolved into a new Gratitude journal that I actually designed and sell (you can find it here) and in this one I added a prompt for the end of the day that says “what made me happy today?”
The reason I chose this prompt is the reason why I chose this quote today. The memories of the exact things that make us happy tend to be very blurry and when we are transitioning through seasons in our life where we feel like we have no direction, we don’t know what to do, we can’t even recognize what activities bring us joy and we keep hearing the phrase “think about what you enjoyed when you were a kid” and you are like me and don’t have too many memories of your childhood, those solutions are not helpful at all and if anything make us feel even more disempowered. But, journaling is here to save the day. Keeping written evidence of the things that make us happy with a fresh memory is one of the most powerful practices I have cultivated.
I find that this practice is almost like traveling in time and looking for clues that we have left for our future self. There have been so many times that I have gone back to my journal to remember what I have written before because I’m in an emotional or mental state that doesn’t allow me to reach for the memory log of happy or sweet experiences. And, just as these clues from the past help me re-center in my present moment when I read what I wrote months before it also helps my future self to understand where it would potentially want to go. As I said before, sweet and good feelings are guides and when the specific experience that brings us joy is clear it is easier to re-create it and it is also a handy measuring tool to understand whether we are going in the right path or we have gone a little off course.
When we say we want quality time with our family, what is quality time for you? do you have a memory that can help you define what quality time is for you? how does that look for your family? When we say we want free time, how are we filling that time with? because I guarantee you once you have spend days doing absolutely nothing to fill your time with you will think having free time is not as pleasant as you thought (And I understand from time to time doing nothing for days is enjoyable ). So, it is incredibly important that we have clarity of what activities have brought us joy and happiness before. We may not “learn” as much from peace but if used in an intentional way, peace is the container that will give meaning to all of those painful memories and any other memories, which in turn will create a life filled with purpose.
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