Noticing fleeting feelings of happiness and well-being as I go through my day is to me one of the main benefits of mindfulness.
If you take the time to tune in to your feelings as you go about your business you will find those little, unexplained feelings of happiness appearing from time to time.
Or maybe the explanation is obvious – you’re with someone whose presence makes you happy, you’re doing a piece of work that gives you a sense of satisfaction or you’re anticipating something pleasant from later in the day.
I especially like those little, unexplained feelings I mentioned above, though. I suppose it’s like getting to feel happy for a little while without having to work for it!
These feelings pass as all feelings do. But while they are with me I want to notice and enjoy them.
I think we often dismiss these unexplained feelings. We we want to move on quickly to the current problem.
Here’s the strange thing: we are probably working on the current problem in order to feel happy or to avoid unhappiness – yet when a little random happiness comes along we seem to say ‘please get out of my way, I am too busy figuring out how to be happy to pay attention to you.’
Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?
It may all have something to do with the defensive side of the brain. As Vidyamala Burch and Danny Penman write in Mindfulness for Health, “… the mind focuses on pain and suffering with laser sharpness …”
And sometimes we dismiss happiness when it seems illogical.
For instance, I once noticed that I felt happy when I was walking through the rain on a cold autumn day. That’s illogical – I don’t like cold rain – but I accepted it as a mysterious bonus and enjoyed the happiness.
The experience taught me that when I’m in a good mood it isn’t always because life got better; when I’m in a low mood it isn’t always because life got worse.
Moods flow through all of us like water in a stream. So make the most of the ones you like while they’re with you; and know the ones you don’t like will pass.
Mindfulness of good moods
To me the key here is to be mindful enough to spot your good moods when they come along.
Very often you can do this through cultivating physical awareness. For some of us a good mood or a sense of happiness is a feeling located between rib cage and tummy. For others it might show itself in a different way.
When we spot feelings of happiness we don’t need to search for an explanation for them; it may even be better not to search. That might be like pulling the petals off a beautiful flower – in doing so you destroy its beauty.
Don’t make the mistake of saying ‘Well, there’s no logical reason why I should feel happy right now’ and dismissing it. Remember that walk in the rain I mentioned at the start? The happiness, though illogical, was worth having.
And watch out for the mistake of saying, ‘well, I have this feeling of happiness but, really, isn’t there something I should be worrying about?’ Yes there probably is, but why ruin this fleeting feeling of happiness?
Welcome it in
We spend much of our lives trying to be happy and to experience wellbeing. Sometimes our efforts work and sometimes they don’t. But when happiness and the sensation of wellbeing come apparently of their own accord let’s welcome them in. The sensation will leave soon – it comes and goes – but at least be mindful of it and enjoy it while it’s here.
My online course, Easy Mindfulness, has helped many participants to cultivate present moment awareness and to improve their quality of life. Payment is by donation.
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