In the past I’ve spent some time commenting on the fact that if we look too much to the past: either to its pain or its perceived happiness and glory, we risk becoming caught in a loop that will not allow us to live fully in the present. By going through an experience that somehow resonates with something similar in the past, in particular if the past one was painful, the present one will tend to pull us fully back there and literally keep parts of us in the past, meaning that those parts of us are simply not available for us in the present.
However, despite that caveat, there is much to be said for examining our past, for being familiar with its crests and troughs, and in particular, with its patterns. However, in order to be able to recognize all of this, we need to thoroughly know our past, and in order to do that, it needs to have been examined. It needs thinking about, in other words.
One of the easiest ways I know of doing precisely that is by following this simple system – A Life Timeline Exercise:
- take one sheet of paper for each year of your life, including year ‘0’, when you were born
- on the top of each sheet write the year and your age
- write – as most of us know this – your city of residence, and perhaps the actual street address
- write who lived in the household with you, including parents, siblings, grandparents or other relatives, household staff and any pets
- if you are old enough to be in kindergarten, write that, or else school, college, etc
- your first job
- any birthdays you remember and why, ditto Christmases and vacations
- best friends
- your first set of roller skates or bike
- sports activities
- clubs, etc.
In other words, the point is to write the obvious, because by so doing, you begin to remember snippets of the less obvious, or the partially forgotten. The object is to have a maximum of 1-3 sheets per year of life, written in bullet-style. And by the way, just do one bit at a time. If you get out the requisite sheets of paper and just write the year and your age at the top on the first day, that’s fine. Then leave them in a convenient place in your house, where you may pass frequently, and add a bit each time you remember something.
Slowly, you will begin to form a picture of your past that goes far beyond just the painful or happy memories and this picture, just as surely as a puzzle coming together, will help you understand not only your past, but more importantly, what you can learn from it in order to make your future better.
How are you improving your future today?
To read more about bringing greater well-being into your life, greater inner peace, happiness, harmony and joy, get a copy of my book Rewiring the Soul: Finding the Possible Self, available at Amazon in paperback or e-book for Kindle format.Click here to download the first chapter.
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A revelation of insight into the foundations of human suffering & transcendence. It not only lays out essential steps for inner freedom & joy but illuminates the way to true human potential. Dr. Kortsch is a spiritual master for our time.
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