Your memory is very powerful. You can be driving in your car when all of the sudden, you remember a tender moment. Maybe it was a sweet time with your child or loved one. It could have been five years ago. But when you remember it, it brings a smile to your face. You start to feel those same emotions, joy and warmth, just like it was happening all over again.
On the other hand, you can be enjoying your day, but then start to remember a sad event when you weren't treated right, somebody did you wrong, or you went through a loss. Before long, you'll be down and discouraged. What made you sad? Dwelling on the sad memories. What made you happy? Dwelling on happy memories.
It's interesting that our mind will naturally gravitate toward the negative. A study showed how positive and negative memories are handled by different parts of the brain. A negative memory takes up more space. There's more to process. Because of this, we will remember the negative more easily than the positive. The example they used is that a person will remember losing $50 more than they will remember gaining $50. The negative carries more weight. It has a greater impact than the positive.
I could have a hundred people tell me after a service, "Joel, that was a good message today. I really enjoyed it." But then, one person can say, "I didn't get anything out of it. It didn't make sense to me." In the old days, that's all I'd think about. That one negative comment would play over and over. That's how it's stored in our brain. It takes up more space.
Knowing this, we have to be proactive. When the negative memories come back to the movie screen of your mind, don't pull up a chair, get some popcorn and watch them all over again! No, that's not the only channel in your brain. There's another movie playing. It's not your defeats, your failures, your disappointments; it's a channel filled with your accomplishments, your victories, the things you've done right, the times you were promoted, when you met the right person, your blessings. Instead of staying on that negative channel, you've got to switch over to your victory channel.
Remember, if you want to move forward into the new things God has in store for you, stop replaying the negative things from your past. We've all been through disappointments, setbacks and bad breaks. Those memories will play the most often. The good news is that you have the remote control. Just because the memory comes up doesn't mean you have to watch it. Learn to change the channel and keep your mind focused on the good things God has in store for you!
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." (Phil 4:8, NLT)