“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but your thoughts about it.”
“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
This rings very true for me. If I stop the thoughts after the initial feeling and refocus I am okay. It is only when I allow myself to think about a situation and how upset I am that it has not gone the way I needed/wanted it to go that I become anxious, depressed or down. By working with thoughts we can shift our mood.
I like the second quote as it helps to shift thoughts. I honestly believe that situations we find ourselves in always contain something for us to learn, shift or grow from. I start there and then move forward. At least in my best moments. ; )
“The natural ups and downs of life can either generate personal growth or create personal fears. Which of these dominate is completely dependant on how we view change.” ~ Michael A. Singer
I am rereading The Untethered Soul, by Singer and am loving it all over again. I have struggled with this concept, as I think we all do at times. In my worst moments I have considered changes, that do not follow “my plan”, a negative or I continually search for what I could have done differently, better or search for anything I should have avoided. In my best moments, I see change as a shift, growth or divine intervention. I search for gratitude and peace in what I might consider chaos or the unknown, knowing that there are ups/downs and constant change. Often it is a quiet mind, observation of thoughts and faith that keep me on a path to serenity.
Thich Nhat Hanh likened emotions to a storm. A storm comes, stays for some time and then it goes. An emotion, too, comes, stays for awhile and then it goes.
When experiencing difficult emotions, Thich Nhat Hanh writes that your head is like the top of a tree in a storm. It is not suggested you stay there. Instead, bring your attention to the trunk of the tree where there is stability, your belly and your breathing for ten or fifteen minutes. (Be Free Where You Are, Thich Nhat Hanh)
I used to be very skeptical of breathing exercises, however I found that paying attention to my breath or just paying attention to my surroundings- what I see or hear, or just focusing on drinking a glass of water or tea can truly help. It can be difficult due to our old habits and patterns that direct us to do what we have always done.
I decided to test this out for one day, trying to be aware of when difficult emotions were present and taking a ten minute break by focusing on my breathing and my surroundings. It was difficult to give it a full ten minutes, and to be honest, in the beginning I could not, but even a few minutes made a difference. After one day I was amazed at how my emotions shifted. I decided to keep at it, and over time my patterns and habits have shifted. I still struggle at times, but I am truly grateful for this tool.
For those that despise breathing exercises or just can’t focus on breathing, the five senses mindfulness exercise might be for you. It is simply stopping and focusing on your five senses one at a time. This too can make a huge difference if you enter it in a couple times a day.