An Old Photo and a Lesson Learned

A few years back I stumbled across an old photo that I had forgotten was ever taken.   The photo by itself was rather insignificant, the impact of finding the photo and the lesson I learned while pondering about that time in my life has changed much in how I view life and the change that comes over time.

The photo, a rather simple picture of myself at 17 alone in our pool.  I was somewhat surprised to see myself at 17, a somewhat good looking young man, tanned, shirtless and rather ripped.  I never saw myself that way, even in school as a 17 year old boy.  When I saw that picture, my first impression was WOW! did I ever look that good, followed by an immediate second thought of wishing I could look like that again.

As I thought over the next few days about wishing I could get back to that same physical condition I was in at 17 the thought came to me that the reality of that might be difficult at best.  Life had changed and as I had aged.  I had also taken on tremendously more responsibilities in life than I had at 17.  When the picture was taken, I was able to swim for an hour and a half every morning, I would run between 5-7 miles each afternoon and then my friends and I would play basketball for a couple hours each evening.

Life was simple, I had time available for those pursuits.

The lesson learned, one that has changed much of how I view changes in life…

IF YOU WANT TO HAVE WHAT YOU USED TO HAVE THEN YOU NEED TO DO WHAT YOU USED TO DO.

See, if I wanted the same physique I had at 17, then I would have to be willing to put in the kind of time necessary to get it back.  I would have to be as active as I was then.

This lesson though goes much deeper than exercise and physique.  This lesson is about life.

One example of this is in relationships, yet this permeates every aspect of our lives.

Many times I hear people, couples complaining that he/she isn’t the way they were when we were dating.  They’ve changed and aren’t the same person.  My question to them is this… Are you the same person?  Do you act the same with them now as you did then?

Do you kiss as often?  Hold hands as often?  Laugh together as often?  Date as often?  This list could go on forever.

Many times when people meet and fall in love, they fall in love because they are interested in the other person and want to spend as much time with them as possible.  They look at each others strengths and what makes them such a good person.  They see only the good in them.  They make time for one another and date often.

Somehow, life takes over and our time gets filled up, much like between now and when I was 17.  My time being active was replaced.  Our time with our spouses and loved ones get replaced by other things.  Work, kids, school, etc…  We begin finding faults in one another instead of the strengths we once saw.

We find ourselves longing for what we once shared and trying to find our way back to that.

Here is where the lesson becomes the most powerful.

IF YOU WANT TO HAVE WHAT YOU USED TO HAVE THEN YOU NEED TO DO WHAT YOU USED TO DO.

If you want to go back to what you had, then you must go back to how you were.  Be the person you once were before you allowed distractions to take you away from what you really wanted and found in the first place.

I would never have lost my six pack had I never stopped what I was doing to get and keep it.  This same holds true for life, our relationships and our families.  We MUST continue doing the things that made us happy in the first place.  When we found love.  If we want to rediscover that then we must go back to what we did the first time around.

Just as getting my six pack back won’t be easy after years of neglect, it can be done, the same holds true for relationships, the course won’t always be simple and easy, however we are certain that happiness exists when we are doing the simple things that brought it to us in the first place.

This lesson also holds true in the opposite.  If we are not happy then how can we ever be by doing the same things that make us unhappy?

Our lives are determined by our actions.  It is through those actions that we determine our happiness and satisfaction in life.

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31 thoughts on “An Old Photo and a Lesson Learned

  1. Oh my. I would not want to go back to what I was at 17. True, my body was better then, but my personality and social skills? I’d like to think that most of the changes over the years have been for the better – had my husband and I met when we were both in our teens, I think we would have hated each other. The rough edges had to be smoothed out by maturity before either of us could be a decent partner to anyone else.

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    • Yes however sometimes the best growth occurs by stepping backwards before moving forward. When we sometimes lose our way taking a step back to get on the correct path is far better than wandering aimlessly on an incorrect path

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      • How do you know its incorrect? Even if you try to adopt a previous behaviour, it will be coloured by your experiences on the ‘incorrect’ path, and therefore will be different. You might try harder, or you might decide that what that you thought was correct is not right for you. And all the time, the seconds tick away, and you move on.

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      • You completely miss this point. This is when a relarionship struggles and you are unable to get it corrected. Going back to the behaviors when it was successful will allow you to get back on a course where the relation can be stabalized and grow again from there.

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      • Maybe I’m not making my point very well. I see what you’re saying about adopting strategies that used to work. My point is that (often, at any rate) you can’t adopt those strategies any more, because you’ve changed. You have to factor in how much time has elapsed. Things that worked for you once, don’t always necessarily work for you.

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      • While that is true it is also true that having a focal point in life where you have a firm foundation under you to provide a point of reference on behaviors that create happiness and success and a place to go back to to reset your direction is critical. Without it you can find yourself wandering aimlessly in life searching for something

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  2. I love the power of this message. But can you really have what you used to have? No matter how hard we try, it’s not an easy feat. First of all, experience, life. Life makes us different, and this needn’t be a bad thing. Retrospectively, you see things you did wrong (or right) and find ways to improve yourself. Appearance-wise, relationships-wise. You need to try, that’s for sure. You need to do what you used to, but also improvise by drawing on your experience, right? Let’s be realistic, you can’t have the body/face you used to when you were 17 years old, but you can have the best possible body/face, provided you try. Your relationship cannot be the same, because relationships evolve and can, potentially get better, provide you try once again!

    very thought provoking post, thank you! 🙂

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    • You are absolutely right. Relationships can get better if they build upon what they had when they started. If they abandon what made them fall in love in the first place there would be no foundation to strengthen. Sometimes we need to step back in order to move forward.

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  3. So beautifully written and well said. Hmmmm would I like to go back to 17? No, as I did not have all the inner qualities I have developed over the years, OK decades and am happy with my dimples (the ones on my thighs… ha ha)

    I loved the analogy about relationships, oh so true.

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  4. Oh wow this is true. As we grow older we take life too seriously (not that we shouldn’t because of responsibilities) but we sort of let go of the little moments that made us carefree, happy, excited and at our utmost bliss.
    I like how you touched on relationships too. It is important for us to go back to that amazing part of ourselves that we tend to lose along the way.
    PS: I missed my hot body too but I have started working out again, so I’m excited to getting back in shape haha

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    • Thank you. I was hoping to be able to make my point in the relationship part of it. That is truly why I posted this. I think that too often we forget to do the simple things in our relationships that brought us together in the first place. These are so important and necessary in order to help our relationships thrive. You are very kind in your comments. Thank you

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  5. Nice job. It is a well written post that makes you think and evaluate and I like that.
    There are elements of our past that we would like to recapture. Yes, of course the physical prowess, but maybe even more important, some of the enthusiasm and zeal. If we could have a balance of the wisdom we’ve gained along with that enthusiasm and zeal I would definitely sign up.
    It seems that until that opportunity comes along I will have to rely on inspiring posts like this to shake me out of my complacency.

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  6. Your example gives a great visual. I have often said I know I need to enjoy what I can do now, because one day these will be ‘the good ole days.”
    As some others commented on already, in many ways I would never want to go back in time -unless I could fast forward my learning curve.

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