This phenomenon goes by many names, is infinitely adaptable and is pursued by all in countless ways that often seem foreign, or even abhorrent, when seen from our own point of view. The fact remains, however, that each of us, in our own unique way, is searching for betterment and contentment.
So, if all we are really doing is looking for our own happiness, how is it that so many of us fail miserably? Even those who enjoy a degree of happiness recognize that things could be better. The reasons for this are complex, but generally boil down to our lack of ability to implement our will. Simply speaking this is regular inability to do what we know to be right. While we follow the urges and impulses of the mind and body (eat, sleep, rest, give up, shy away, lie, shout etc), we sometimes stray from what we feel we ought to be doing. The dissonance, or internal conflict, created in this process gives us the feeling that we have let ourselves down. Often, this state of mind replays past ‘failures’ and projects similar failure onto future events, giving us a sense of disappointment for where we have been and a sense of foreboding for where we are going.
Mindfulness helps alleviate this stress on two levels:
Firstly, in the moment in which we either implement or fail to implement our will, we are more conscious of our decisions and can make informed, controlled choices that more closely reflect our genuine will. If we are quick to anger, being mindful of the moments in which we might lose our temper enables us to better understand, direct or diffuse our anger. If we are in need of better health habits, staying mindful of the goal and being aware of potential temptations helps us to walk a stricter path.
Secondly, in moments in which we are caught up in past or future worries, becoming mindful of the present is like stepping from a dark, crowded room into an open field of warm light. The mind as a spacious place is a wonderful thing. Very few issues can be fixed by internal worry or consideration alone and as soon as we make the choice to temporarily step away from a pattern of thought until we are in a position to change it, we achieve the distance needed for clarity and unhindered thought.
From this point, where we can remain aware of our goals, keep an eye on potential pitfalls and see the opportunities for betterment, we can better effect our will and be the person we wish to be, settling the discord in our mind and feeling the warm glow of accomplishment.
So just as universal as our quest for happiness, the ability to develop a mindful approach to life exists in all of us. By no means is living closer to our intuition and intellect an easy thing, even while maintaining vigilant mindfulness, and it is most likely not the only path to happiness. However, the sense of accomplishment brought about by being true to ourselves and furthering our own cause, whatever it might be, is undeniable and is worth the effort of heightened awareness and accountability.