One thing I have come to know for sure is that how I feel about myself dictates how I feel about other things. When I feel peaceful, happy and content, I am better able to feel compassion and love for others and their situations. I am more sensitive to them. I slow down and take time to appreciate them.
The trick is figuring out how to feel that way on a consistent basis. There is so much in life that can bring us down, have a negative impact on our outlook of and attitude toward things, and cause us to feel down-right miserable at times. We have to find a way to move beyond those things, to focus on all the blessings in our lives, and to choose how we feel. And it is a choice. Regardless of what is happening in our lives, it is our choice how we react or respond to it. Abraham Lincoln said it well, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Those feelings of happiness, peace, and contentment are the result of an inside job. In other words we have to come to those feelings through ourselves, not through external factors. The error so many of us make is to derive those feelings from outside sources such as other people, our jobs, our possessions, etc. But those sources are temporary at best…when they fade or disappear so does our sense of peace, happiness, and contentment. If we cultivate those feelings from the inside, with the source being our own individual self, then those feelings can stand the test of time. But since we all have been conditioned to seek those feelings through external forces, how do we go about making it an inside job.
Mindfulness, awareness, discernment and practice…powerful words that describe steps toward choosing a positive, happy outlook. Slowing down and being aware of our reactions to things…stopping to think about or be mindful of what we say or do in challenging situations…carefully discerning our options in a given moment…all good ways to help you reach a point where you feel peaceful, happy, and content from the inside out and on a regular basis.
But these aren’t automatic responses. We have to want to do them…we have to decide to do them. And therein lies the challenge. For so many of us this is foreign territory. We didn’t grow up with that model so it is not natural to us. Therefore this has to be a very conscious and continual decision on our part. We have to want to become peaceful, happy and content or it just won’t happen, at least not in an internal, lasting way. We have to commit to a practice of feeling those things from the inside out…continuing to choose that positive, happy outlook each day (even if yesterday did not go so well). We are human after all, so we will have our off days. The key is to commit to trying anew every day. But when we do make this commitment to ourselves, the rewards are amazing. That deeply rooted, internally-based feeling of peace, happiness, and contentment is second to nothing. The way you feel after interacting with others when you are able to experience that level of love and compassion for them is so fulfilling.
Basically it’s like the old adage that when life gives you lemons you can either make lemonade to enjoy or you can complain that you are stuck with a bunch of lemons. Ultimately it is our choice. So what will you choose?