Cultivating awareness of what’s going on in the moment as you go through the day can help you feel better.
Why should this be? I think it’s partly because you get less caught up in angry, anxious or regretful thoughts – they still occur but awareness of your changing moments means you are less likely to stay trapped in them.
It may also be that when good feelings and experiences come along you are more likely to pay attention to them when cultivating awareness i.e. when you are being mindful – otherwise they can pass by in a flash.
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’s probably not because life got better; when I’m in a low mood it’s probably not 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.
Yes, we can hope to influence our moods. Meeting certain people, going to certain places, doing certain things, can help us get into a good mood, though not always. And certain people, places and actions get us into bad moods.
But quite often you can find yourself in a good or bad mood without quite knowing why. Perhaps some memory is at work subconsciously.
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.
I think it’s really important to give accepting awareness to these feelings of happiness when we spot them. 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?
Trying to be happy
We spend much of our lives trying to be happy. Sometimes our efforts work and sometimes they don’t. But when happiness comes apparently of its own accord how does it make sense to ignore it or dismiss it?
It doesn’t make any sense at all. So when you feel happy, when you are mindful enough to spot it, just be happy.
My online course, Easy Mindfulness, has helped many participants to cultivate present moment awareness and to improve their quality of life. It begins again on 15th February and is available until 23rd January at an Early Bird price of €19.99 – after that the price will be €49.99.
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