Too often we seem to go through life letting things happen to us. We are reactors to circumstances instead of choosing our own actions. For instance, it’s easy to take on the role of victim and simply sit passively while things happen that we don’t want to happen. We tell ourselves, “This is the way it always is and there is nothing I can do to change it.” But that’s not true! We can make different choices and take another course of action that may change the outcome of what is happening.
Sometimes we get caught in what I call the haze of ordinary. It simply means that we aren’t paying attention to what’s going on in our lives and when something we don’t like happens, we just lament how bad life is and we sit there suffering. How foolish can we be! We are capable of making changes in our lives, in the ways we think about things and in what we do in response to challenges. We sometimes just need a bit of a bump to bring us back into a mindful way of thinking.
By mindfulness, I mean paying attention to what’s going on and being open to trying new things to change the situation. This means living in the present moment and stopping ourselves when we get on the pity wagon before we take off and ride it for hours or days. Yes, bad things happen in life. That doesn’t mean I have to focus on them and wail about them forever. I can also realize that good things happen in life too. If I focus on my blessings rather than my problems, it makes the problems shrink in size.
Stress makes mindfulness more difficult. If we’re stressed, we focus on what’s stressing us out rather than on the good things going on around us. I work on reducing my stress levels and think of it not as a selfish thing to be doing, but a necessary way of improving my life and the lives of those around me. Let’s face it, if I’m out of sorts, then the people around me will know about it and, in most cases, pay for it too!
I have to stop sometimes and look at what’s really happening to me at that moment. I’m not in danger. I’m not particularly uncomfortable. The sun, if it’s not shining now, will shine again in a day or two. The problems I’m experiencing, although they may seem insurmountable, will fade away and others will replace them. But good things will keep happening too and I don’t want to miss any of them. Remaining mindful helps me live in the moment and feel hopeful about life.