That Was Terrible

Here is a mindset I work hard to cultivate, and which serves me well: Right now, everything is awesome. Later, these same things can have been terrible, but right now they’re great. When I look to my past I can reckon with it honestly, and admit that there were times that I lived through that were extremely rough. But when I’m in those times, they’re not.

This isn’t just self-delusion. The present really is different than the past.

In the present, I have agency. In the past, I do not. The past can’t be changed, but it can be learned from. In order to learn from it, it’s best to be candid: “That was a really awful event, horrific experience, or truly challenging period. I survived it, and I’m stronger – now let’s make sure I ger smarter, too.”

The present can be changed, and in order to do that I have to not wallow in pessimism or despair. The current moment is awesome because I am alive and draw breath and the outcome hasn’t yet been established. We can’t know if this will turn out to be awful because I haven’t finished with this experience yet – it might be merely challenging.

So viewed through the distinct lenses of past and present, it’s natural that the same events can take on different meanings. The result is that I grin and adapt in the here and now, and learn my lessons from when the time to grin and adapt has passed. I can say “that was terrible” a thousand times without ever having to cross over into “this is terrible.”

Because this? This is awesome!

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