Humans are hard-wired to live in the past or in the future because planning and learning from the past has been crucial to the survival of our species.
Real joy comes from those magical moments of being absolutely present and experiencing spirituality, love and peace of mind.
Researchers have found that distraction, one of the major scourges of our time, is also a major cause of unhappiness.
Psychologists at Harvard University conducted a study with 2,250 volunteers, monitoring their thoughts and feelings, to find out how often they were focused on what they were doing, and what made them most happy.
More than half the time people’s minds were wandering to other things. The researchers concluded that reminiscing, thinking ahead or daydreaming tends to make people more miserable, even when they are thinking about something pleasant.
Matthew Killingsworth, a doctoral student in psychology and lead author of the study, wrote in the journal Science:
“A human mind is a wandering mind and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”
The human mind has between 60,000 – 70,000 different thought monkeys dancing through the head on one day. Becoming aware of these thoughts is the first step toward focusing on the moment.
It is an empowering thought to realize that you are in control of your thoughts and that with a little training you can regain control of these monkeys.
Thoughts are energy waves and they create reality. Where energy flows, the energy goes. The first step is to become aware of your current feeling. Is it predominantly, sad, angry, resentful, happy, or joyful? Negative emotions can sometimes be triggered by banal events, like a driver blowing his horn at you in a traffic situation. This then suddenly triggers an anger explosion that is completely out of proportion to the event. It would be one example of anger that has its roots elsewhere but hasn’t been transmuted.
Out of control emotions have a close connection to scattered thoughts and an uncentered state of mind. For me, deep walking retreats on the Camino in Spain have been a real eye-opener. While walking alone I was inevitably confronted by countless thoughts, especially during the first few days. It is part of the process of dumping old emotional garbage – some of which lie buried in the subconscious mind for years, sometimes to early childhood.
You will have made progress when you find your senses tuning in to the surroundings and becoming aware of the sights, sounds and smells around you.
What thoughts you have immediately after getting up in the morning have a major impact on your day. A dream could have stirred a negative emotion. But you are in control. You can reset your mind. You can set a positive anchor for the day with a meditation, a gratitude ritual, an exercise routine, a mantra, or a prayer.
Every time you catch yourself with a negative thought, you can train the mind to concentrate on breathing. Consciously counting the inhaling and exhaling sequence of breathing will immediately transmute that thought. If you click on my Podcast link below you will find a powerful meditation from ancient Qi Gong practice which I find enormously powerful and the effects of which can last for hours.
Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant