Walking through the trampled bracken on a hilltop overlooking the sea in Dorset on a New Year’s morning, I felt happy. Grateful to be able to walk independently, choosing what path to take, and feel the cold air on my cheeks.
Unexpectedly, a memory of struggling to walk to my kitchen popped into my head and reminded me of how lucky I was. Then, almost instantaneously the logical part of my brain started to kick in and told me to stop dwelling on the past.
For many years I’ve tried to self-monitor my thoughts, rationalising away reflection as pointless or morbid negativity. Why should you think of the past? What benefit does this bring when you should be thinking of the future?
Since I’ve recovered my health, I often find myself thinking about how lucky I am: when I walk into a café and have the freedom to spontaneously chose my own food, when I can go into a shop and buy whatever I want without having to leave without getting anything because I can’t physically queue at the till, when I can walk into work without fear of collapse, when I went to a conference and got the train on my own and didn’t have to ask anyone for special treatment.
These moments of thankfulness happen daily, and make me feel happy with my present. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a completely changed person, I’m back now to my usual self of planning for the future, whilst moaning about the mundane (the utility room needs painting and we still need a new bed).
However, this blog entry’s purpose is really about articulating a case in favour of healthy reflection over simply forgetting the past.
I’ve spent years wishing I could ‘live in the moment’. When I was fit and healthy one of the key ways I achieved this was through running. Now, I don’t need to do anything particularly special to have this sense of happiness and contentment every day, enjoying simple moments of pleasure from a walk in the park to cooking a meal.
I still have the same ambitions, hopes and dreams I had before my illness, but I’m hoping that my experience will help me retain a deeper appreciation of all the wonderful things I have in my life – my husband, family, friends, house and job.