|« Jun||Aug »|
When people think about positive emotions our mind often jumps to happy clappy smiles. But there are various positive emotions, all which nourish us in different ways. There is interest, pride and serenity for example. Which positive emotion haven’t you experienced for a while? Any chance you could nudge it along?
Yesterday we talked about the waste disposal of the mind. Does everything need to be disposed or can it be recycled?
Buddhists say that there is no lotus without mud, no compassion without suffering.
Recurring thoughts tell us that the processing we have might not be sufficient. Maybe rather than trying to rid ourselves of something we might change how we relate to it. This doesn’t mean that there is predetermined meaning in everything. It means that we decide to use our own suffering as a pathway to empathize with others. That we use the questions that don’t leave us alone as a springboard instead of a doomed cellar we are trying to forget.
The news can sometimes penetrate our defenses. Then there are relationship problems and big and small disappointments which accumulate during the day. Sleep and dreaming might be able to process some of that but it seems that unless we learn to deal with it, daily life has the potential to poison us little by little, unless we figure out a way to process difficult moments.
Writing (but not exclusively about bad stuff, because that can get depressing as well) is one such waste disposal or at least purifying mechanism. What other methods do you have to dispose of the accumulated negativity? What is your waste disposal?
We love new. New is intriguing and gives us a little dopamine rush. Stuff we know doesn’t do that because the anticipation is lost. But sometimes we need something we already know more than a little rush. What do you know already but need to remember today?
Excuse me while I kiss the sky.-Jimi Hendrix
Sometimes we want to do something that is good for us but we know that ‘we are not the kind of person who does X or enjoys Y’. Self-knowledge is wonderful but we have to understand that exceptions exist. Yes I might find it hard to do most things every single day but that doesn’t mean I can’t give meditation or exercising a try. Because sometimes doing something that we usually don’t do is easy or at least not as hard as we imagined it would be.
‘What are your expectations?’
-Oh I don’t have any.
But then there’s disappointment. A feeling that sucks. Except that it does tell you something that you didn’t know before: that there is a part of your brain that created expectations without your conscious knowledge. But the feeling of not having these expectations met is very conscious. Once you follow that feeling the hidden expectation isn’t that hard to find. Next time you have a similar situation you will be prepared. And you might not be able to change what will unfold. But you will respond to it better.
We have a lot of ideas how things should be done correctly: how to meditate, how to pray or how to visualize. We worry whether we are doing it right which takes us away from the actual prayer or meditation. Yet it’s about cultivating a state of heart and mind. Let’s use our freedom to meditate and pray with what works. If focusing on cute cats makes your heart soft than do that even if no monk or preacher recommended it.
I will be happier when:
- I have more money
- I am in a committed relationship
- I have kids
I can’t be happy when:
- the best times of of my life are over
- I will never make that dream come true
- the relationship has fallen apart
These are some of the myths of happiness that Sonya Lyubomirsky has identified. However I find the same kind of myths can be applied to almost anything:
- I will be more creative when I come back from vacation
- I will be relaxed when I have done everything on my to-do list
- I will love myself when someone else does
Let’s try to pay attention whenever we use I will + if/when and I can’t/won’t + if/when .
Often we are only encouraged to do things if there is a clear process and reward. You cannot do karaoke, unless you can sing. You shouldn’t paint unless there’s a chance you get into art school. Language learning is a waste of time unless it’s English, Spanish or Mandarin.
And if we dare to do any such thing without a clear endgoal in mind, at least the process should be clear.
Why go after unknown rewards if chasing after the straight-forward stuff is time consuming enough? Why risk wasting your time, exploring an area where there are no hidden gems?
Gratitude is great. We know it’s benefits and how it deepens relationships. Yet sometimes we feel the opposite. It’s hard to express those feelings, even if it is just to ourselves. Not only are we hurt, but we failed at something important.
You know better than anyone whether ungratefulness and other taboo emotions should be expressed towards the people concerned. Yet when you are alone you might try out what happens. Because maybe you will not be sucked into a spiral of eternal gratelessness. Maybe you the expression is a way of being honest, that will then be the foundation, for gratitude to grow once more.
We spend just as much time in our wishes and phantasies as in reality.
Being mindful to the present is great. But accepting that we do spend a lot of time day-dreaming and wishing for things gives us the space to allow these dreams. And if we are not happy with this element of our mental climate we can take the steps to make more rewarding phantasies. No instant delusion here, don’t worry. Just the acceptance, that this is what your mind does anyway, so it might as well be nice.
And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.-Khalil Gibran
We like fast cars, instant shipping, fast food and instant stain removal. Google, Amazon and Apple are among other reasons successful, because they have made daily life more efficient.
So wanting to go slow is something that can make us feel guilty. It’s the opposite of what we’re supposed to want. Go slow at your own peril. Slow is usually seen as some kind of problem: underlying fear, fear of success or just plain loser-like. Go fast or go home.
But to me going slow is about being realistic: I don’t have the skills to drive a car at 150 miles an hour. I would just fly off the road at the next left turn. So some things in my life I either do slow or not at all. People might not understand. Or tell me I should train to be a race-car driver. But sometimes I don’t want to. Slow is right. Maybe not forever but for now.
There’s particularly loud brand of lawnmower or other machinery outside. Shhh, I have to write, was my first reaction but of course if you know exactly what to write about, no lawnmower will stop you. How often do we take outside sounds or people as excuses that we can’t accomplish what we want to do?
Let’s try to not do that today. For today I lost that game already but you haven’t.
Last week I was at a conference and there were lots of people who do amazing work, yet when I walked up to them and thanked them for it and explained how it had impacted me, most of them asked if they can hug me. I was a bit confused about this because I assumed that if you are a 17 year old documentary film maker or well-liked podcaster that you might have your fair share of fans and gratitude messages. It seemed that yes they get the pats on the back. But someone looking into their eyes and getting specific, that doesn’t seem to happen all that much.
Thank someone today beyond a superficial ‘good job’. It’s delightful. It doesn’t go stale.
Common sense is not so common.
Derek Sivers, the founder of CD Baby, talked about how the thing his clients talked most about (apart from some legendary stories involving squids and chewing gum) was the fact that real people picked up the phone when someone called customer service.
We like to think about what’s hard, what the secret is that nobody knows but how about today we do something that everybody knows about, something that your grandma told you. Something that is common and therefore not so common at all.