I have known abandonment, abuse, aggression and awkwardness in my life and don’t get me started on the other letters of the alphabet. They are part of my story and helped mould me into who I am today, but they are all things I have set aside. They are not what I focus on. They are not the things that readily come to mind. If you truly want to be happy, you must focus on creating fond memories.
When I was a boy, there were no sports teams, facilities, uniforms, parental supervision – nor were there rules and regulations for everything. Kids got to be creative and had fun without the pressures of anxious adults pressuring their offspring to do their best and win awards. I feel blessed to have been a boy living in a small town during those times.
We would go for our first swim of the year on Queen Victoria’s birthday, the 24th of May, which we considered to be the first day of summer. The water would invariably be too cold but the double-dare of jumping in anyway was part of being a boy. It was a three mile hike to Kawkawa Lake and we would have received a good laugh had we thought to ask for a ride. We always went by the most direct route which was along the railroad tracks and through the bush.
When I said along the railroad tracks, I meant, of course, by keeping our balance as we walked along the track. We became quite proficient at it and would get off the track only when we came upon something really interesting (which was quite often) or when the great huffing, chugging steam engine pulling its load blew its horn telling us to get out of the way.
After a bracingly quick dip in the lake, we varied our route on the way home often passing by a small farm. We were drawn as if by magic to crawl up into the hayloft of the barn and jump out into the manure pile. We would laugh and squirm to free our legs from the smelly muck and then run around and do it again. After a couple of rounds of this entertainment, we would head to a nearby creek to clean ourselves off and look for frogs.
Every year on this date, I smile and recall that magical time. When you look at the grand scheme of life, having fond memories in your savings account is far more important and much more easily at your disposal than stocks, bonds and other valuables that you might have to cash in some day. Fond memories can bring you dividends whenever you need them.
While the overwhelming urge to jump into a manure pile has fortunately left me many, many years ago, the memory of it is still a happy one. When you focus on something that makes you feel good, it changes your biochemistry. Your subconscious mind does not distinguish between “happy then” and “happy now.” The happiness and feel good hormones are released throughout your body regardless. How is that for a bonus?
The trick is just to bathe in the happy feeling without picking it apart with “yeah buts” or comparisons with how things are today. Neither should you fret about whether or not the details of your happy memories are accurate. Who Cares!
My regrets, resentments, embarrassments and other negativity of my past are buried deep in an archive somewhere. Happy moments, accomplishments, people and routines that I cherish and value – I keep close at hand. When I can attach a date to them, I get to celebrate them every year.
Recall your fond memories and continue to create new ones you appreciate.
“Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.”