In my previous post, I showed that it is possible to be happy, even if you are feeling exactly the opposite by first forcing a smile. A false smile does indeed create real happiness, and the result is immediate. I’ve even shown the science behind what’s going on (thanks to Dr. Marcia Reynolds). And to my delightful surprise, some readers actually tried it out and it works for them.
Here’s Kent who got his smile back.
And it works for Shrey too.
I’m sure it would work for almost everyone. In fact, forcing a smile isn’t that hard. It just takes a little bit of extra willpower and you will be feeling positive again. (Still doubting? Try smiling now and see if your mood appear lighter?)
But that’s not the hardest part.
When you are feeling bad, you will find your mind is flooded with negative thoughts. It’s just like a vortex that keeps sucking you in. Let’s say you have just failed a project. You would think “I’m such a failure”, “I will never be successful”, “I’m giving up”, and it would continue along the same line.
That’s because your emotions have a tough grip on these thoughts, according to Erika Krull, a licensed mental health counselor in her article at PsychCentral. She even mentioned that the constant stream of negative thoughts would prevent you from doing any creative problem-solving.
In short, when you are trapped in a vortex of negative thoughts, it is very unlikely that you could remind yourself to “smile and bring back the happiness”. As in my previous posts, some of the readers who managed to force a smile only do so because they are reading the post itself. The process of reading and processing the information breaks the negative thoughts and allow them to do something to get out of the negativities.
But if there are no external sources that could break your negative thoughts, what could you do?
One of the best ways to break the chain of negative thought is to be aware. Aware of what? Aware of the thought that is going on in your mind. Most thoughts are actually harmless until we put labels (I love this shirt, I hate that person) and attach our emotions to them. That’s where we began to judge and soon lose our objectivity over our emotions.
While there could be a few ways to master your mind, I would like to bring you to one. Mindfulness practice. It is a practice that has dated over thousand of years, in building our awareness and living in the present. It is a practice where we develop an awareness of ourselves by observing our thoughts and feeling.
Sounds too generic? Or too much theory?
How about this?
You are rushing to work. You are in deep thought of the coming board meeting as you rushed to your office. As you reached your office, you wondered did you locked your car? It feels like you have but there is a doubt. To be safe, you took the lift down to check on your car. It’s locked.
This is what mindfulness practice, or rather the lack of it is all about. While you are physically parking your car, your thoughts are somewhere else.
If you are mindful, then you will be aware when your mind goes into negative states. If you are not mindful, you are submerged in the negative thoughts. But if you are practicing mindfulness, you are merely observing the negative thoughts without stepping into it. This gives the negative thoughts no power over you.
I know this is a difficult concept to grasp if you have not practiced mindfulness before. When you are aware of your thoughts or feeling, say anger. You would notice when it was triggered. But you are not holding on to it (You do not get angry). And you have a choice of not reacting to it. Read my post How To Let Go Of Anger here.
While I’m usually quite capable of explaining a concept with examples and analogy, I feel that mindfulness is best experienced and learned by direct practice.
I know the fast and easy way is to start google searching some article on mindfulness practice and start doing it in your daily life. But what’s more effective is to actually practice mindfulness meditation to bring awareness into your daily life.
That’s because, in a meditation session, you do nothing except training to be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensation. When you get used to ‘being aware‘, then it will be easier for you to assimilate mindfulness into your life. Think of it as a new lifestyle.
I started mindfulness meditation under a meditation guru when I was 17. But it’s a challenge to do so living in the cities. These days it’s easier with technology. If you are new to the concept of mindfulness and would like to try out a good meditation course, I recommend Master Your Mind, a 5 weeks meditation course by Giovanni Dienstmann, who has almost 7,000 hours meditation experience (that’s more than 16 years).
Always remember this.
The key to progress in mindfulness meditation is to not have any expectation at all.
When I was meditating at the age of 17, I was a competitive teenager. I’ve always wanted to win in everything. I wanted to make fast progress in meditation. Each session I was hoping that I could be more focus and be more peaceful. To my frustration, not only did I not make any progress, I was in a way, regressing.
It just doesn’t work that way. When I learned that having no expectation is the key to progress in meditation, then I started making real progress (although I don’t feel so at that moment).
It was when I stopped meditation briefly that I found my concentration weaken drastically over time. I found that I get angry easily and succumb to an emotional outburst. That was how I knew how much mindfulness practice has benefited me.
It is a journey that you have to experience at your own pace. That’s what living in the present is all about. I would not go into detail about the benefits of meditation. I’ll probably do it in another post, with the backing of experts and hopefully some solid facts.
If you are still keen to tap into the experience of Giovanni Dienstmann, you can check out his money-back-guaranteed program Master Your Mind. Either way, I hope you bring mindfulness into your life.
Are you a meditation practitioner? Do you practice mindfulness in your life? Share your thoughts and experience in the comment section.
I am an engineer-turned-writer who once struggle with social anxiety. After overcoming problems inflicted by low self-esteem and the fear of interaction, I realize the need for taking a holistic approach in developing our mind. I'm sharing my experience, remedies, and techniques that interest me in my quest to be a better self.
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