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Are You the Sum Total of Your Life Experiences?

A thought experiment to consider, prompted by a classic question.
Are you the sum total of your life experiences?
What comes to mind when you read that? If you are like many of us, then the question as it is given might make you reflect on things you have done. Or not done. Going all the way back to childhood, you might start thinking of "life experiences" and their "sum total" as a curious kind of karmic list. Bad things, good things, and things in between. People you helped. And incidents you would likely prefer not to remember.

Sometimes my mind starts racing, remembering all the things that have happened, and obsessing over certain reactions and details. Snippets start flowing, and once they get going, it's hard to stop the cascading effect. "Is she still mad that I said that? It was years ago, so I hope she forgot. But it's true, I still remember." "Oh, I hope that my old colleague doesn't remember that one time, in the airport, when I was pissed off..." and the classic "But they were the ones who were mean, first!"

But what if we could just accept all of the things that happened, without judging whether they were good or bad? What if we could say that our current self is simply the jumping-off point to what we're about to experience today*? To what we would ideally like to contribute to the world today?

Freed from the question of needing to evaluate and balance the scales - like an accountant's ledger - does that let us go forth with more joy for today? Does that let us proceed more easily with kindness towards ourselves and others?

Simply a thought experiment. I would like to hear more about your experience with it!


* I'm giving thanks for some beautiful rays of sunshine on my computer as I write this, sitting in my parlor!

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