Self Improvement: Memory Is Good— and Bad – Earl Nightingale
Everything in nature has two sides: a good and a had, a positive and a negative. In philosophy this thought goes back thousands of years to the Chinese Yin and Yang. The Yang is the good, the sunny side of the hill; the Yin is the dark. There is a dualism in everything in the universe. The rain that waters and fertilizes the crops also brings ﬂoods; the ﬁre that warms our homes and cooks our meals causes widespread havoc when out of control. We are familiar with the dualism of love and hate.
Have you ever thought about the good and the bad sides of memory? Each of us really has a very short memory. Yes, the subconscious remembers everything, but the conscious mind forgets. We forget our failures, our mistakes, our foolishness, the pain we have caused, the opportunities we have missed, the love we have failed to give when it was needed. These things pass from our conscious memories as from ﬁlters to which they have clung for a while before being washed away by time.
We also forget, unfortunately, the good, and that is had. We forget the principles, the systems which, if we would but live by them, would result in our achieving the things we seek. We liter- ally forget how to live successfully.
If, through some diabolical device, we were constantly reminded of all our past weaknesses and mistakes, we would live in a state of constant depression, fear, and sorrow—a hell on earth. Instead, our conveniently forgetful minds save us from this.
If, through some wonderful agency, we could be constantly reminded only of the good, of those principles and systems which we know work to our beneﬁt and the beneﬁt of society, we would live in a state of optimism, enthusiasm, and hope. We would go from one success to another.
It is true that the world’s most successful people manage to live in this latter state. They are always aware of what they are doing and where they are going. They know that if they will just do certain things a certain way, every day, they will be led to their chosen goals.
Most news seems to be bad. Our newspapers and newscasts are not—and cannot be—ﬁlled with all the good that is going on in the world. They report all the news, and the great majority of it seems to be on the negative side: the war, murders, crime, disasters, accidents, swindles, scandals. Furthermore, so many of the people around us, subtly inﬂuencing us, are so constituted, or so lacking in the proper education, that they too seem to act and talk on the negative side most of the time. If we live then in accordance with our environment, we too will tend more and .more to forget the good and dwell on the bad. This means we will live the major part of our lives on the dark side of the ancient Chinese hill.
What is the solution? It is to ﬁnd a way to remind ourselves every day, as do the really successful, of those things that lead to success, to good. Otherwise, we will forget the good, along with the bad.
A good airplane pilot carefully follows a checklist before taking off and landing; he does this regardless of his hours in the air. It keeps him successful and alive. You and I need a checklist too, every morning and every night.
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