Be Grateful for Lost Loves: A Better Way to Look at the Road Not Traveled

Day 12

I wanted to share a powerful realization I had last night. I was taking my dog Mia out for her daily “night walk,” ambling slowly down the alley, Mia trailing behind me by a few paces and sniffing intently at piles of leaves that I was certain contained her favorite forbidden treat (sweet, intoxicating cat poop), when it hit me. It was as though my mind gnomes had been working away at a problem for hours — even days — and came back with a slip of paper, upon which was emblazoned these words: THE ANSWER.

I glanced down, palms suddenly sweaty with stressful anticipation, and read:

There are two ways to observe life’s past choices, when they have resulted — as they inevitably do — in forgoing one thing for another. The path not traveled, while tantalizing to ponder on, is merely imaginary. Rather than yearn for what you used to have, wishing you could live it again or live it instead, you should be grateful that you lived it in the first place, and look on your present circumstances as a blessing rather than a misfortunate alternative.

In other words, why not reset the frame of mind in which you might find yourself, to appreciate your lost days as something to be celebrated rather than mourned? I thought of Eliza and Charlie, two women whom I loved and who loved me. Wherefore I felt it necessary to move away from these loves, I don’t know, but — I can either tremble with disappointment and resentment at my old decisions, or smile on them.

I can either think: I could have had such a fun time with her. I could have made her so happy. Or I can think, I had such fun with her. I made her so happy. And then I met my wife and got to do it all over again with someone else. How lucky am I to have so many loves in the same life?

This freedom all came from adjusting what Tony Robbins refers to as state. I can’t summon the words he uses — oh wait, yes I can. Hello, Google search:

“The difference between peak performance and poor performance is not intelligence or ability; most often it’s the state that your mind and body is in.”

Tony describes state as something that is directly affected by posture (e.g., a depressed person will be slouched over). In my case, I adjusted my mental state by inviting perspective. I looked back on my life from years down the road, and I saw that I wanted to have created a happy, loving relationship. One where I didn’t doubt my partner, where I wasn’t petty and shallow and always looking for something else.

Truthfully, I thought about how Eliza might see me on the street, or read about me, and shake her head ruefully as she read about my marriage, or my divorce, or my lost potential.

The lesson for me is that a positive mental state can be the difference between peak performance and poor performance. Or, in my case, the difference between a great relationship and a poor one.

I am not tragically afflicted for having “lost” two women who loved me, and whom I loved. I am blessed for having had them in my life at all. I am more blessed for having said goodbye to them, so that I could invite in another spectacular woman, and write another great chapter of my life’s story.

Originally published at on March 27, 2017

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