Jay Gatsby, the main character of the literary classic “The Great Gatsby," is obsessed with the past. He longs for days when he was with the lovable Daisy Buchanan. He uses this desire as fuel to find success and wealth, hoping that he could win back Daisy. This desire almost acts like a poison, leading him down a path that eventually leads him to his death.
This is a theme not lost on other stories. Relevant magazine's Eric Demeter pointed towards the 1980s classic “Back to the Future,” in which the main character Marty McFly heads back in time to change the past.
But Demeter also hits on a more important point with his article, something that Nick Carroway in “The Great Gatsby” also says in that book and McFly experiences in “Back to the Future” — you can’t change the past, you have to deal with it.
“Dwelling on past mistakes is much like squirming around in quicksand — it only pulls us deeper into the hole,” Demeter wrote. “What we need is a solid rope to get us unstuck. But instead, we often receive one-liners such as ‘It’s not a big deal,’ ‘Get over it,’ or ‘Don’t worry about it.’ ”
Fixating on your past and the mistakes you made can be a problem, according to Robert Leahy, director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy, who wrote for The Huffington Post.
By ruminating on the past, your attention leaves the present and you’re not as involved with your life as you could be, which may make you unsatisfied and less happy.
According to a study published in Science magazine, living in the now improves people’s lives. The study looked at how often people thought about what they were doing in the present and how that affected their happiness.
Overall, the study found those who thought about the moment rather than daydreamed or thought about the past were happier with their lives.
That’s why Demeter suggests people find a way to move forward and away from the past. He says God has planned a path for believers that will help them move forward.
“Even though we can’t change our past with a time machine or superpowers, we shouldn’t be discouraged,” Demeter wrote. “Even in our human state of constant repair, we have One who has already fixed our most important problems. So we can learn from our mistakes, look to the future and walk in the freedom of His forgiveness.”
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