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Monday, November 3, 2014

What If the Past Was NOT Real?

I know, I know, I have gotten a little behind on blogging, but I promise I have a great excuse!

My Excuse is: I have spending a lot of my free time developing my Zero Limits Mastermind program that I hope to be able to share with you all by the end of this month.  It is going to be a year long group program that will run from January 1st 2015 until December 31st 2015.  My intention is to help those who participate make 2015 the most epic year of their life!!

Today I wanted to share with you something I have been thinking about a lot... the past.

At present I am attending a 15 day long seminar in an area of psychology and communication that I find very fascinating.

The other day we had a discussion on the past and how the past is constantly changing and therefor not real.

Some of you may have just read that and said, "HUH! Jesse you totally lost me... are you smoking something?" 

No I am not smoking anything nor have I gone crazy (well maybe a little crazy), I do have a point; stay with me.

The example the instructor used was this:

In America, as kids we are taught the story of the first Thanksgiving.  When I was a kid the story went something like this:

Many years ago a group of settlers from Europe called the Pilgrims sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and made landfall on the East Coast of the United States.  These kind people were setting up a society and met some very friendly locals called Indians.  These Indians lead by a man named Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to farm and utilize the land.  When the time came to harvest some of the first crops the Pilgrims and Indians came together and celebrated Thanksgiving as friends because they had so much to be Thankful for.  The End.

Over the last several years this story has changed to go something like this:

Pilgrims came over they took the Native American's land infected them with diseases and tried to force their way of life on them.  The pain they caused ran so deep that we are still dealing with the repercussions of it today.  One of the latest examples is the movement to have the name changed of the professional football team "Washington Redskins," saying that the term Redskin is offensive.  Several years ago this was no problem, now people are calling for a Congressional move to ban the name.  The end... or is it.

How can the past have changed so much if the past was permanent.

The reason is because the past is and always will be subject to our interpretation of it and how we choose to interpret things can change from moment to moment. 

Have you ever had a really bad day and when someone asked you about the past you remembered it unfavorably?

Have you ever had a really great day and when someone asked you about the past, something that once was so painful for you, was remembered, in that moment, as not being that big of a deal

Two of the greatest examples of this are little kids and dogs.

The other day I was at a friends house and watched as their one year old son hit his head so hard on a table.  He cried, his Mom comforted him, and 10 seconds later he was back running around the table with no fear.  For him there was no memory, or perceived painful memory, keeping him trapped in the past... for him there was just the present and the experience that comes with it.

Dogs... dog owners know that dogs have a tremendously quick rebound rate.  They do not hold onto pain because they want to experience as much love and joy as possible.

Think about yourself - how often have you found yourself trying to remember who said what in a movie, which one of your friends shared the latest gossip with you, or who sang what song lyrics.  Do you even remember what color shirt the person next to you in the elevator was wearing yesterday?  Do you remember specifically what your boss was angry with you about?

My point is this, how can you be 100% certain the past is real when we often do not remember what just happened five minutes ago? Yet we base so much of who we are today on our past, specifically the painful parts of the past.

If the past is ever changing, and we can be certain that we may not be 100% certain of how things happened (think Thanksgiving story) doesn't it seem to make a little less sense to live your life today based off of what may or may not have happened in the past??

What do you think?

I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Carpe Diem,



  1. Uhhhh, yah. You did it again. Okay maybe I'm a little crazy too, LOL but yes it totally makes sense. You sure do have a way with words. Thanks

  2. So I don't agree. I believe the past real thing but our view of the past changes. I'd like to use your example about pain. The moment you felt this pain it might have been the worst pain you ever felt but later you felt an even greater pain and so your point of view changed.
    It is the with your example about thanksgiving. It did happend how it happend but today we teach our children that not everything we did in the past was right. So not the past changed but our Point of view how to educate out children.
    So for me the past is real, it happend but how we see the past that is a dynamic thing, open for interpretation.

    Hope you have a great week!
    Love from Germany

  3. Oh man! This is right up my alley! I freakin' LOVE this!! I would love to hear more about this seminar. This stuff fascinates me. I don't think you are crazy at all. If you are, then I guess that means I am too, because my mind thinks like this. I used to want to go into Psychology because it is so fascinating to me. I often wish that I did go that route. Perhaps it's not too late. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Hey Jesse

    I don't know whether you can really say that the past wasn't real, it's just that the past is not fixed/absolute/defined in one particular way, because we all have our own version, our own perception of what happened. I think we all create our own reality, our own version of the world, from memories, emotions, experiences. Our senses, our belief systems, our emotions create this world we see around us and our brain paints this picture of the world we see from these senses/beliefs/emotions and it creates our own personal version of the world, a world that our senses are able to see and a world our emotions allow us to see. Personally, I don't think perception and sight are the only ways we create our version of the world, but what the bleep do I know? ;-)


  5. I love the discussion here.

    To play devil's advocate @jana How do we know which version of Thanksgiving happened and for that matter how do we know with 100% certainty it even did happen? If the past is simply a retelling of events from the perspective of people who supposedly lived it, then aren't we basing our history on the word of a bunch of people who could do not remember the color of the shirt of the person standing next to them on the elevator yesterday?

    Do you all remember playing that game as a kid when you would sit around in a large circle and whisper a secret to someone then that person would whisper what you said to the next person and so on. By the time it got back to you what you originally said no longer existed. What was retold to you was some version of what you said based on the interpretations of others.

  6. I hope I am answering one of your questions here Jess. I am shooting for this one: Are you 100% sure the past happened if in fact the memory of the past, or the emotions felt by that memory have changed or faded? If so, does the past or should the past effect your present or future? If I interpreted this correctly- this kind of goes back to, for lack of a better example- childbirth: hurts like hell: so why have children? It's because emotions are diminished in time. Pain, yes. Even happiness though. I know you are still a young chap, but consider your list of 1,000 challenges. Consider the first amazing adventure and the first experience when you can remember you stopped and said, "Damn, this is the most amazing thing I have ever seen, or place I have ever been!" Now think about how many times that has changed. It isn't that the past has changed- it is our perception changes over time. I had my first child at the age of 21- all natural - no pain meds- people today would say I am out of my mind! They ask, "My gosh, I bet that was excruciating!" Can't remember, she is 22 years old. I had my second and last child 14 years ago. Same way- no pain meds- don't remember that pain either, but the migraine headache I had two days ago was terrible. Had to get an injection because my blood pressure elevated and I became physically ill. Your pain centers work off of chemicals in your brain. Your memory, now that works from other things I will not go into, but suffice to say when we relate something to someone else- it is our perception of the past- our memory, through the looking glass. As a memory fades, our perception becomes mirrored by other memories of the people, places and things of that time. Accurate? No, not to the nth, but like the whisper- the truth is there from beginning to end. So back to Jesse's first amazing place- it isn't now, because you have seen so many other amazing spots. However, you could tell what it looked like in your mind's eye- then look at a photo. Won't even look like the same place because you have seen it again since then or pictures since then of your amazing spot, and your memory is going to hold onto the most amazing things about the amazing spot. For instance, you, say the most interesting thin was a parrot and how pretty it's feathers were. You look back and - no parrot. But you look at a picture two years ago when you went back and there is the parrot. So why did you say parrot when the parrot wasn't there? It was. You recalled the most amazing things about that spot and your memory pulled it. As time moves forward, our recall - becomes zip filed. Lol

  7. For me there is a difference between the past and history. For me the past is what happend! An unchangable event that occured some time ago. History is retelling of this event in a way that suits the author best.
    You choose the example of Thanksgiving and you are probably right that Thanksgiving never happend (why else would we have thanksgiving in europ around the same time you do and we had it before the pilgrims left europ). So thanksgiving is history but that there was a famine in Ireland and a lot of people left the country that is the past and not changeable.
    Hypothetical imagine you have the possibility to go back in time do you think things would happen differently just because people in the Future left things out while talking about it?

    Another thing I thought about the last few days after commenting and reading your post again. I don't think pain is a good example for how unreal the past is. I tried to remember how the actual pain felt when I broke my collarbone and I couldn't, I was able to remember that it hurt and what emotions I was feeling but not the pain itself. Dogs and toddlers are also not a good example because they don't have this big of capacity to remember the past and that is a good thing! If a toddler would remember it hurts bad when I stand up, he or she would not try again. That is also the reason that when you teach your dog a new Trick, you have to do it again and again and again till it sticks. So they don't change the past they just forget it ever happend!

    Have a nice day