Pay attention to where you pay attention

A friend was just telling me she spent her weekend with her 92-year-old aunt.  I was expecting to hear a sad story from a nursing home, but they were at the beach and the aunt was no ordinary gal, but some kind of superhero.  I'm not kidding. She works out 3-4 times a week, travels by herself internationally, and makes new friends wherever she goes. The aunt is impressive not just in her physical capabilities, but in her outlook and capacity for enjoying life. The story reminded me of a guy on the Humans of NY feed who is 82 and fabulously joyful.


But I digress.. back to my friend and her aunt.

At one point (I don't have the entire context) the niece mentioned some unpleasant event from their past and the aunt replied, "Oh I choose not the remember the bad things. I only save the good memories."


I only save the good memories.

That's some strategy...only saving good memories.

Isn't that called denial? Isn't this what we are taught NOT to do? We need to work out the problems by turning them over, examining the who/what/when/where/why; we need to discuss everything and revisit the bad until we can move on.

Hello.  Hasn't the aunt heard of Adele?

"I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meetTo go over everything..."

And yet there is something to the logic of making much of the good that's past.When we recognize what is good, the natural response is gratitude.

If you troll the internet you'll find an assortment of articles linking gratitude to...

  • Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure;
  • Higher levels of positive emotions;
  • More joy, optimism, and happiness;
  • Acting with more generosity and compassion;
  • Feeling less lonely and isolated.

And so if the gratefulness you felt during Thanksgiving has faded, if the day/week/season threaten to fill your mind with bad memories, be deliberate in what gets your attention; decide which thoughts you're going to save.