Success Tip for the Day: Take a Cruise Down Memory Lane - "Learn from Your Past to Embrace Your Present"

Many times, we let our past clutter our present. The key is to learn from those teachable moments from days gone by to create a brighter tomorrow.

by Patricia Phelan Clapp M.A. LLC - Transition Coach

Lately, I have been cruising down memory lane a bit. Having satellite radio helps as I listen to George Michael and Def Leppard while I drive back and forth to RFH - my high school alma mater. Funny thing is, now my two kids, Jake and Maddie, attend the same high school I went to many moons ago, which is pretty cool.

While I was riding down that same familiar lane after her practice, I said to my daughter, Maddie, "Who would have thought I would be doing this with my daughter (I played softball too!) 25 years later? But I am." So much is the same, yet so much has changed, all at the same time.

"Pretty cool stuff, huh?" I said with a smile while Cindy Lauper blasted in unison somewhere in the background.

Then Maddie interjected, with a smile of skepticism, "Mom, you have been talking alot about memories lately. Does it make you sad or happy when you talk about them?"

A scary stillness found its way in my Jeep Commander.

And you know what? I didn't know the answer.

As I turned to address my daughter, I realized what I was feeling was a mix of both - happiness and sadness. I feel like I go from (in a split second) from remembering a silly event (proms, parties, vacations with friends) from back in the day with laughter and a smile, to missing the days, the people and those moments all over again.

Many times, longing for them.

So, the big question remains, how can we cruise down memory lane, keep that twinkle in our eye yet use this as a means to creating a brighter future?

Are there special glasses for this?

Honestly, I didn't have a clue.

Well, after much thought, and months of compilation, here is what I have done to cultivate the happiness of my past to not bring a dark cloud to my present. It's no magic formula, but for me (and my clients) it has helped create winning combination for bridging the past with (what I hope to be) a happy present.

Remember the good times. Be happy. Learn from them.

Too many times during crazy times in our lives, we only live, and get stuck, in the moment. We forget who we were, what made us happy and people that brought joy to our lives. We are spending so much of our day "reacting" and not processing and thinking. Spend some time remembering the "good ole days" and the happiness that you had (before things may have gone a bit off kilter).

Find and Connect with People Who Make You Happy

Especially during crazy times in our lives, we tend to isolate from people who bring joy to our lives, for many reasons. Whether we don't want to impose on them, we don't feel comfortable sharing difficult times or we simply want to get through those difficult times alone. Whatever the case, reaching out to those that made you giggle, feel important and understood in the past, can bring a tremendous amount of clarity, focus and most of all joy, to your present.

Also, by reconnecting with people from days' past, can link the "old you" with the "new you." Meaning, these people may help you remember the dreams that you had back in the day.

Going down Memory Lane with a co-pilot can bring spark to your future.

Find friends who motivate, inspire, are grounded and can recharge your energy. You can be each other's dream cheerleaders. There is nothing like a goal setting buddy to help you get out of your own way.

Let Go of the Not So Good Times - Finally

I know, we all need to work on this one.

And it happens to the best of us. You see someone from your past, hear an old song or think of an event that sparks some old memories. You find yourself being nostalgic, missing the "good ole days" then all of a sudden you get that familiar pang in your stomach that is reminiscent of "not so good day' past".

Whether it's thinking about an old relationship or a regret of something you did or didn't do in the past, it's more important than ever to let it go. Learn from what went wrong and toss it. Plain and simple.

Repeat after me - let it go.

Too many times, we let the skeletons of our past clutter up the present and future. And then what happens? We lose all of our power.

How you feel about your past is a choice. I know it's hard not to be bitter sometimes, it creeps up on me, too, from time to time. All of a sudden, I start to think about people and situations that could have been dealt with differently from years past which, many times, can lead to a  "Patti Pity Party." Then, it starts to spiral and I begin to think about ways that I may have been given a raw deal in the past. It's not a good scene by any means.

Then, I remember, all this time I am spending mulling over regrets, times I have felt emotionally short-changed by others, really has no relevance AT ALL on how I spend my time today. Plain and simple. I need to spend my time using up that "mind space" for thoughts, goals, dreams that are more productive. Period

What If Your Car Breaks Down on Memory Lane?

Then it's time to call in the troops. If you feel like a hamster on a wheel and stuck in the world of nostalgia and "where has my life gone" syndrome, it's time to do some drastic measures. So, what are they?


I find that too much free time isn't necessarily good for the mind when it comes to feeling stuck. Many times when I have experienced anxiety and sadness it's when I haven't tapped into my creative side and I have too much time on my hand to feel bad about myself. I call that energy gone inward.

To create happy memories starts you need to start with living happy moments.

Make happiness a priority. Do things that bring joy to your life. Spend time with people to whom you admire and keep you motivated. Read success stories about people that went from "Point A" to "Point Z" and learn from them. Find mentors. Learn something new. Take classes. Make a gratitude list and start noticing the good in your life today, instead of longing for what was good in the past. Most likely, when you start to shift your way of thinking (and longing about yesterday) will help you get just what you need to bring you joy today.

Moral of the Story

I really do love cruising down Memory Lane and remembering the people, places and experiences that have brought joy to my life. . To me, thinking about the "old Patti" (no pun intended) brings me abetter understanding of who I am today and the Patti I want to be in the future. It's like one big puzzle and I am piecing the puzzle together. But the key is to learn how to see all the goodness that the present brings.

Learn from your past, embrace your present and dream about your fantastic future.

Now, go out and have some fun. Because you know what? As of today, your life (really is!) a good one.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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