“I can see how old men become curmudgeons. But the other side of this is I can see how old men become wise and blissful: nothing but goodness.”
Nothing but goodness, in everything. It may seem hard to achieve, but if you focus on coming out of every encounter in life a better person, rather than a bitter person, I think it’s fairly manageable. Perhaps I’m just being young, and incredibly naive, but there has to be a reason why the old fogies in the world are strictly divided into two camps: (1) the ones that remind you of good old Saint Nick and Mrs. Claus (all my grandparents fall into this category – and I have 8 of them), and (2) the ones like the Infamous Aunty (vs. ah lian) on the train.
You’re probably wondering what spurred this rather random post. Well, truth be told, it was the startling realization that out in the working world, there are a hell lot of bitter people – and as a consultant, I get to see the insides of a lot of other companies. It is quite stunning really. These people almost always have a profile that you can suss out from about a mile.
Chances are as you go through school you’ll never really come across anyone truly bitter, the concept hasn’t yet occurred to them. Jealousy and envy? Definitely, that exists from the time you’re in kindergarten and someone’s got a nicer backpack than you… But you aren’t bitter about it. You haven’t learnt that yet.
Being bitter requires a kind of stamina, and an elephant memory, to remember and relive every negative encounter in life – every missed opportunity, every time you were let down, every time someone got ahead of you, or things just didn’t turn out the way you wanted them to. It requires holding on – really tight – to these things, and then putting them on repeat. It’s so extremely defeatist – this is all my life is ever going to be, because of X, Y and Z.
It must be painful, like a really absurd form of self-inflicted mental torture. I can’t imagine having to relive my folks’ divorce, or any of my break up(s), or not getting that job that I really, really wanted, or that time I got yelled at when someone else had screwed up… I would be in perpetual pain, a lot of it.
I’ve always viewed my goldfish memory as both a blessing and a curse – it gets me in trouble an awful lot, but it also helps me get over the bad things fairly quickly. And I’ve always proudly paraded my belief that the key to happiness is a bad memory. Well it might be time to change that little line on the top right – what keeps the bitterness at bay, and what makes life increasingly better is learning to let go (I’m still learning how to let live).
That’s not to say I don’t feel the injustice sometimes, or I don’t feel incredibly disappointed when things don’t work out the way I thought they would – but it’s fairly safe to say that normally by the next morning, *poof* it’s gone. The goldfish memory definitely helps with that bit.
And to be better? Being better just involves counting those blessings we talked about the other day. I’m guessing that most of us have at least this much in common: We are young, we are free, there are so many opportunities and our world can still be whatever we want it to be. Oh FROMAGE! So cheesy, but so true! That’s a lot to be grateful for.
Nothing but goodness. Ladies, that’s the real key to being wrinkle-free!
Quote up top taken from Daniel Coffeen’s article.