So far you’ve worked on being more grateful, less judgmental and more self-aware of your suffering. Now you want life to improve because life simply includes too much suffering. But now we’ve found the number one way in which you suffer and you are now more conscious of it. Congratulations. That’s a much bigger achievement than you realize (I told you this would be easy if you did it one step at a time). Don’t forget to stay in touch with that awareness.
Since we’re suffering too much and that’s where we are most often, then we’re set up perfectly. By using this change as an example of making any change you’ll have started with the area of your life where you can make the biggest difference right away.
It is important to remember to see your emotions not as the results of events, but rather as a product of your thinking. You manufacture those feelings intentionally. Maybe not consciously, but it is definitely you telling you to feel that way. Just like if you watch a scary movie you’ll be scared or you’ll read sad book and be sad, if you tell yourself anxious stories about yourself and your life then it should be zero surprise that you’re feeling anxious.
So there’s your sign it’s time to switch. Wasn’t it nice of the universe to make it feel unpleasant so you would be motivated to change it? Now, instead of peddling your anxious narrative even faster and spinning it wider like Pigpen’s dust-cloud from Peanuts, simply use it as information. It’s like when you feel chilly you put on a sweater or if you’re thirsty you get a drink. If you’re anxious change your narrative.
This can appear difficult at first. But of course, just thinking that it’s hard and that you can’t do it is already an example you have changed your thoughts–I would just encourage you to change to nicer thoughts that will generate a better result. Being disappointed in yourself for feeling disappointed just adds to the disappointment.
In life, whatever you feel you’ll be inclined to feel more of–including happiness, contentment, satisfaction etc. Any emotion can be changed so it’s worthwhile to meditate to obtain healthy thinking habits. That’s all your suffering is–a habit. I know that sounds like it trivializes it, but that’s good news. Overcoming trivial things is much easier than formidable things. And that makes me happy because I’ll feel better when you feel better.
Today we have fun. Today you have to choose the positive emotion you find it easiest to feel. Not the one you like the most–the one you find it easiest to experience–the one you feel most often. Maybe you’re quick to laugh, maybe you find it easy to feel compassion. Maybe it’s love, or maybe you feel good when you do nice things for others. Whatever it is, get to know that too. You know the fattest pipe in your brain for negativity–it’s even more important to know your most efficient and well-maintained route to something better.
Do these exercises seriously every week and you will change. Know yourself. Get on Youtube and find videos that relate to the positive emotion you believe is your easiest. Watch them and ensure that this is a fast and effective way to elevate your consciousness.
Life can be death by a thousand cuts, or it can be life by a thousand tiny rescues. Find those things it’s easy to think good things about. Everyone has them. Once you have yours we’ll start tomorrow on how to get from the most common negative one to the most common positive one.
Enjoy your day.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.