GATEWAY TO HAPPINESS
2. Only fools waste their present moments regretting what is over and done with. They will constantly say, “If only I hadn’t gotten involved in this venture, I wouldn’t have suffered.” “If only I would have stayed an hour longer, this would not have happened.” We are not prophets and there is no possible way to know in advance exactly what will be. Try to protect yourself from harm, but realize we can never plan for every contingency. (Cheshbon Hanefesh, no.77)
When you miss an opportunity for gain, it is easy to feel upset. When you could have invested money and made a fortune but did not, you might keep repeating to yourself, “How unfortunate it is that I didn’t utilize the opportunity.” But this will needlessly cause you extra pain. Not only did you miss that opportunity, but you are now making yourself feel miserable about what is past. Learn any possible lessons for the future, but do not talk to yourself in a manner which increases your loss.
3. In your relationships with other people live in the present. Reviewing past misdeeds and failures of the people you associate with just adds fuel to the fire of resentment. Try to deal with people the way they are now. True, someone might have offended you in the past, but what do you gain by thinking of it now?
If you find it difficult to stop thinking of offenses of others, write a list of what you gain by thinking of that past and another list of what you lose out by doing so. When you see the harm of you are causing yourself, you will be more motivated to improve.
Someone once suggested we mentally put dates after each person’s name. Reuven (1985) is not the same as Reuven (1980). What is more, Reuven (Monday) is not the exact same as Reuven (Sunday). View people anew each time you see them. You might have had a problem with Reuven earlier in the day, but later in the day he is slightly different and so are you. That small difference may make it easier for both of you to deal with each other on a friendly basis.
If someone wronged you or quarreled with you in the past, base your dealings with him on how you can relate to him in the present. Can you now do acts of kindness for him? Can you presently gain from his wisdom or experience? Can you have a worthwhile relationship right now? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, disregard your past experiences, and deal with that person in the present.
LIVING IN THE PRESENT