Certainly, all of us have had days when, even if nothing particularly unpleasant occurs, we feel sad; we get “the blues”. It happens. Human nature.
There were several days last year when I experienced the opposite. I found myself smiling, giving the dog extra belly rubs, and just being “happy for no reason”.
I liked those days. When I decided to try to set myself up to have more of them, I remembered a conversation I had a few years ago.
During a time of particularly painful mental anguish, I told a trusted counselor, “Put me in a room with several people, and after chatting a while, I can tell you exactly what this one’s problem is, why that one is so fearful… but I can’t see my own affliction, and my life seems to be getting worse and worse and I don’t know why!”
“That’s easy.” she said. “You don’t live in the moment.” I rolled my eyes at her, feeling the reply was impractical – some new-agey philosophical stuff.
Then she elaborated. “You continually rue the past, playing over and over in your mind what wrongs you feel people have visited upon you. When you’re not thinking about the past, you’re worried about the future, constantly on the lookout for how people might hurt you again. When your mind is so constantly occupied with fear, it distracts you from really enjoying the moments of your life as you experience them, instead you feel worried and anxious. And besides, if you look back, almost everything you worried about never happened. Worry is a terrible waste of imagination.”
“It’s a matter of fact that no matter how much you think about the past your thoughts cannot change it. Think of how small your auto’s rear view mirrors are compared to how large the windshield is. Yes, we must acknowledge the past to avoid repeating mistakes, but most of your attention and mental energy is best spent observing what is being presented right in front of you as you continue on your journey… down the road or through life.”
“People don’t seem to realize that their life is one continuous self-fulfilling prophecy.” she continued, “If you stop dwelling on what you are afraid is going to happen, and instead focus on what you’d like to happen in your life, the future will unfold in ways more wonderful than you could have ever imagined.”
With the intent of having more “happy for no reason” days, I’m trying to watch my thoughts more closely. When I notice a fearful thought arising, I now allow myself to ignore it. This seems to have made more room in my mind for appreciating simple sources of joy: how beautiful the color of the sky is, how I smile at my dog’s goofy gait when she walks up the stairs.
Watching your thoughts is simple, free, and has no negative side effects.
Welcome to 2015 – the year that’s better than you could have ever imagined – enjoy!!