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If we wish to change the person we find ourselves to be, we must change our thinking.
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October 4th, 2018
When we feel very good, when we are happy. Where exactly does the feeling, the experience and the sensation exist?
If we concentrate on the experience of happiness in the most specific sense, what would our answer look like?
Most people would probably report a feeling of lightness in the chest and the body. Maybe a sort of bubbling feeling somewhere around where we expect the voice to originate from. Maybe a kind of relaxation and ease with our external circumstance, and of course, probably a big smile.
This need not be some kind of deeply inaccessible circumstance that we must mine out of life. All of these sensations are very close to any other state of being.
We might also think about the reverse. What does sadness or anxiety feel like. Chances are we’d report a certain heaviness in the chest or a sinking frenzied feeling in the stomach area. A choking up of our voice, perhaps even a welling of sensation around the eyes and a tight brow.
We must regard these as bodily sensations first and foremost beyond anything else. They are separate from any external circumstance that we feel might be their cause or trigger. It’s very important to realize that there is no direct mechanism between any external event and the way we might feel that does not involve some kind of physical alteration of our body. Although even those who have suffered major bodily trauma still find it within themselves to feel the satisfying feelings of levity and happiness, which works further to show just how untethered our emotional state is from circumstances outside of our direct control.
Happiness is always with you. If you so chose.
Phrasing it as such might feel aggravating for those who find it difficult to activate within themselves. We might wish to phrase It another way: the physical mechanisms that allow us to experience happiness are present in our body and in our mind wherever we take them. Recognizing that the mechanisms for happiness are not directly connected to external circumstances is one of the most important realizations to come across.
We might be convinced that getting sideswiped by a car, or not getting the promotion or being unfairly criticized by a spouse are good reasons to feel aggravated, annoyed, disappointed or downright depressed, but all human lives are peppered with an unending stream of things both big and small to get upset about.
When we dwell on such things in a way that perpetuates feelings of unhappiness, it is akin to keeping a hand too close to a fire as opposed to having the wisdom to back away. One circumstance is far more pleasant and dwelling beyond the obvious lessons of the past never reveals any deeper wisdom that can be applied to our present or future.
Luckily the paths to happiness are varied and stable, and with practice such paths become increasingly short so that we may call up a nearly perpetual feeling of wellbeing if we so choose. While the obvious and often recommended ingredients of exercise and good diet, meaningful work, well balanced time with friends and the healthy relationships within family are a good start, the most direct path is the quickest and most enduring: the realization that no external circumstance need dictate our emotional state.
Given any adversity it is possible to calmly smile.
Remembering that possibility is always with us can, with time and practice, grow to become the way we enjoy the process of living.
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Appreciation can be more than a feeling. Toss something in the jar if you find your thinking delightfully tinkered.