The pursuit of happiness
For some, finding happiness may be in a new pair of shoes, or in a cup of coffee. But do these things really make us happy? The answer is no. Think about it. If happiness existed in objects then the same objects would make everyone equally happy. But that isn’t true. Coffee might make you happy- if you are a regular consumer- but for someone else, they may despise it. So does coffee equal happiness? Definitely not! Happiness is not something you will find externally, if you are looking for it in physical objects. It may sound cheesy but you will only find happiness from within. To achieve this, you have to live in the moment, that’s where you will find pure happiness.
What is mindfulness?
Being present may be the biggest obstacle when trying to balance what seems like a million things. But the only obstacle standing in your way is your very own mind, preventing you from experiencing life in the moment. Purewal and Petriw discuss an article stating that the average person thinks between fifty thousand and seventy thousands thoughts a day, which is almost forty thoughts per minute. No wonder it’s so difficult to be present- your mind is running twenty steps ahead! If our minds had a habit of racing through happy thoughts, then a restless mind might not be a problem. The problem, however, is that we tend to focus on the negative. This is where the first big step of letting it all go comes into play. We don’t have to make the thoughts stop per se, but we do need to be aware that they are happening. Once this is done, you can start to change your negative thought patterns and find calmness of the mind.
Chatty mind vs. observing mind
How do you make the mind calm? First of all, we need to understand the difference between the chatty mind and the observing mind. The chatty mind is the part that you know all too well. It’s the part of your mind that never stops running. The observant mind is the opposite. So, if you have a thought like, ‘I should eat healthy’, the chatty mind would say, ‘I can’t believe I couldn’t go three days without eating chocolate, what’s wrong with me? No wonder I can’t lose those fifteen pounds.’ Whereas the observing mind would think, ‘There you go again beating yourself up about what you ate. You made the decision to eat the chocolate and guess what? You enjoyed it. Let it go.’
Self-love and mindfulness
Instead of letting our self-destructive emotions or frustrations get in the way, we need to start putting ourselves first. Self-love plays a significant role in positive mindfulness. We all have the capacity to love ourselves but we often give that love to anyone but ourselves. Think of the way you are towards your boss, your friends, your significant other, or your kids- take the ability to be kind to others and give it to the most important person in your life- you!
How do we tackle those destructive thoughts? The key is to look at the thought without judgement. This is tough because it’s easier to say, ‘I don’t think I’m worthy of this relationship’ rather than accepting that you are worthy of one. Don’t let your mind go there. Stop and hold that thought. Use your observing mind to figure out whether it’s a true statement or just something your nasty chatty mind let into your head. By doing so, you’ll be in a better position to overcome that thought because you’ve actually acknowledged it.
It’s not easy to reveal the shitty things we might be saying to ourselves- it’s sad, hard, and sometimes a struggle. But trust the process. A big chunk of your healing will begin once you acknowledge those things and let them out.
To further your pursuit of happiness, try these healing exercises:
Turn off your mind at night
To do this, tune into what you’re thinking about and calm down your mind by taking little breaths. This will help you focus on the present and help you fall asleep.
Improve daily meditation
Slowing down and meditating can help combat anxiety and stress. A huge factor in mindfulness and meditation is breathing. You’ll need to take a real deep breath, one that you are aware of and are deliberately taking. Purewal and Petriw say that during the day, you’re likely drawing relatively shallow breaths to your chest- sometimes you might even forget to breathe. Did you know that when you’re reading or typing an email you might subconsciously suspend your breathing for a moment? This is called email apnea.
Thanks to Purewal and Petriw, it’s safe to say that we can all practice some self-love. With the start of the new year still in full effect, I think we can all be better to ourselves and just Let That Sh*t Go.