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Monday 12 September 2011

Perception and Memories

The other day I had a bad day.  Only, it wasn’t actually a bad day.  It had a rough beginning and it would have had a crappy end (if I hadn’t then written in my diary and realised what I’m now writing here).  For the majority of the day I was happy and content and calm.  But then the end – knocking the c.d. player I was carrying into the doorframe, stubbing my toe, tripping over my pyjamas which could have led to a different (much worse) ending – put me in a foul mood.  Only minutes before I had been thinking how lucky I was to be alive and to be able to enjoy any part of my day at all.  Then, in a moment, it turned sour.

I know that if I hadn’t written in my diary, and realised that in truth the majority of the day had been good, I would have gone to bed in a very bad mood.  We all know this is never good.  It leads to not sleeping.  Which leads to a late start.  Which leads to grumpiness.  Which leads to another bad day.  

Those few minutes of anger and annoyance and pain changed my perspective completely.  They wiped out the good memories and replaced them with bad ones.  It is only because I forced myself to write what I had done that day, and things I’d thought, that I realised I’d almost missed out.   

Memory is tricky.  And our perceptions of our day, our year, our life are bound to what we remember and what we forget.  

I used to think that memory wasn’t a choice.  Now I know it is.  We can choose to remember what we did that day, what we ate, what we thought.  It is unlikely we will remember everything but we can choose whether to focus on the memories that make us smile or those that make us want to cry out in anger or frustration.  

We cannot change the past.  But we can change the perception we have of it.  So I challenge you to pick a memory that you hate, that makes you cringe, that makes you bristle, and to really think it through.  Live through the memory and focus on anything and everything that reminds you it doesn’t have to be a big black cloud tarnishing your mind.

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