You want the experience without the pain?

Here’s an interesting quote from William Walker Atkinson:

“Some people are not happy unless they have some old faded sorrow hugged up close to their bosoms, and they feel
guilty if they happen to smile and forget the old thing for even a moment. Oh, how they do gloat over their own revamped unhappiness — how they enjoy the relieving of the pains and sorrows, mistakes and ignorance of years gone by. How they love to hold the fox to their sides and let it eat out their heart.

These people are really happy in the unhappiness, and life would not be worth living if they were deprived of their pet sorrows. Of course, if these people are really happy because they are unhappy, I have no objection. Every man or woman has the right to pursue happiness in his or her own way, and I suppose that that is as good a way as any other, and I should not find fault if somebody else’s way is different from mine.

But doesn’t it seem like a pity to see people wasting their time, energy, thoughts and life on these old sorrows? If they must think of the past, why not think of the bright things that came into their lives, instead of the dark ones? Think of the moments of happiness, not of the moments of sorrow. Don’t make a tomb of your mind. Don’t let that particular painful experience poison your present life. Don’t do it. What’s the use?

Every bit of pain that has happened you has brought its experience to you—you are better, wiser and broader for it.

Look at it in that way, and you will cease to mourn and wail and wring your hands over the fact that in the past you “have done those things which you ought not to have done, and have left undone those things which you ought to have done.”


You have gained the experience and know better now. If you were placed back in the same old position, and lacked the experience that you have gained by just such things, you would do the same old thing over again, and in the same old way. You couldn’t help it, because you would be the same old person.

What you would like to do would be to be placed back in the same position, and face the same old temptation or
problem, but you would want to take with you the experience you have gained by your former mistake. You want the cake and the penny at the same time. You want the experience without the pain. Oh, yes, you do, now, that’s just what you want — I’ve been through it myself, and know all about it.

You’ve gained the experience, be satisfied. Some day you’ll need that experience, and will be glad you have it, and will see that it was worth all you’ve paid for it. No, you don’t see it that way? Well, maybe you haven’t had enough of it—haven’t learned your lesson yet. If that is the case, some of these days the law will drop you back into the pot, until you’re well done. The law is not satisfied with underdone people. Oh, you’re making a big mistake. Forget it — forget it.

The people who carry these old things around with them generally get themselves into the mental attitude that draws other things of the same sort to them. Misery likes company, and a miserable thought also likes companionship, and almost always manages to attract some other miserable thing to it, to keep it from being lonesome. The only way to get rid of a thought of this kind is to — forget it.

Now if you have some pet thing that is gnawing out your vitals — is corroding your heart — is poisoning your mind — take it out and look at it for the last time. Give it a last long lingering gaze. Kiss it goodbye. Weep over it if you like, for this is the last you will see of it. Then throw open the window of your mind and pitch it out into the outer darkness.”

This is exactly what we should do to old sorrows and pains. Learn with that experience and take out the trash! Don’t hold on to negative feelings – instead, hold on to those teachings – not the painful feelings!

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