Not a secret, but we tend to forget: We can focus our own attention, to lighten up, to SEE the Happy in our own life.
I can’t find that knickknack I need right now. I scour the house for it, I go out to the car, I start looking in the yard. I cannot rest until I find this thing. It’s making me mad. My mind has taken charge, speaking so loud it drowns out whatever my heart would rather do.
NO. We must find the knickknack. We must tell ourselves our usual story: No one takes care of our stuff. Who put it away last? Why don’t they know where it goes? Did somebody borrow it and I’ll never see it again? I really liked that thing, it was so handy, but why, oh why, must things go missing? I don’t want to be missing my things. I don’t like this at all. Where is it? Not here, not here. I reinforce ‘it’s not here‘ in every place I search.
Most recently it was the little kitchen tool that removes the stems of strawberries. How silly is that? It’s too embarrassing to say how much time I wasted, all cramped up. Restricted, pinched down tight.
The mind is a dictator, unwilling to detach.
Our attention sticks to the difficult, worrisome, dangerous, messy, painful, unfair, uncontrollable, heart-aching, confusing, negative things. The mind tries to resolve the issue, so we hone in deeper, stiff-necked and determined, without realizing our focus is making us miserable.
We just do it. We keep bench-pressing our burden.
It’s a mental habit, and we might not notice it, unless we can step back from the mind. (Meditation strengthens our Inner Observer so we can see what’s happening in our head.)
Thank goodness the mind can go to only one place at a time.
So break the troubling focus and send your attention to anything that feels better.
I snag myself on my backache. The more I think about my backache, the worse it becomes. I get distracted and lose the pain for a little while. Then I bend funny and the pain zings once again, bidding for attention. I tell myself to be careful, be rigid, keep the pain away, resist it. (Listening to it, going deeper into it, is a topic for another blog post.)
My very attention to the pain (and innate resistance to it) makes it larger. Larger not only inside my mind, but in my back, where it hurts. I begin to believe my whole body is pain. But actually many body parts feel fine.
If I ponder my good-feeling parts, my mind-focus will enlarge pleasant feelings.
Can I take a moment to breathe deeply and appreciate myself? Thank my lungs for breathing, thank my heart for beating and feeling, thank my feet for supporting me so well, thank my capable hands for working.
Can I find something to appreciate in the moment? The interesting leaves on the tree outside my window? The pleasant people in my life? The fact that I can move, in whatever way I can? The sun shining and infusing all? The energy, oxygen, and ease in this one full breath of air?
The more we ramp up our appreciation, the happier we become.
Placing our attention on appreciation is our biggest tool for happiness.
Here’s a focus wheel I like to browse at bedtime, to shift to appreciation. It sets a good-feeling vibration for the night and next day. (Grab your colorful markers and make your own 😉
Remember that old joke about the two birthday brothers who each received a sack of manure? The first one saw the obvious, but the second one excitedly said, “There must be a horse around here somewhere!”
When you get a sack of manure, here’s a few phrases to help shift attention:
At least I can still__________________________________________________
At least I have my _____________________________________________
It would be worse if ___________________________________________
I’m glad I didn’t __________________________________________________
I can count on _________________________________________
It’s cool that ____________________________________________________
I’m glad that ________________________________________________
I appreciate ___________________________________________
One real sweetness in my life is _______________________________________
Another one is _______________________________________________
Reach for a better feeling and it will surely pull you out of the ditch. No matter what the ditch is.