As we go about our daily lives it’s so easy to let the things that bring joy into our lives slip. If we wait for circumstances to bring us joy we may have to wait a long time, but if we establish the habit of being mindful and doing something every day that brings us pleasure it becomes so much easier to experience joy, and attain our most important goals.
It has been discovered people who suffer from depression have an inability to see things as new, fresh or exciting and this is what makes them depressed. In chronically depressed people the mind creates links between sad moods and feelings of hopelessness or inadequacy. For instance, a person experiencing depression could interpret the fact that they didn’t get a job to mean they are hopeless as a person, or a failure, that they will never get what they want.
Depression has been largely treated by drugs which puts serotonin back into the body, or by cognitive behavior therapy. Both of these work, but when a person goes off drugs they often experience a relapse. There is a third way that can change the way we feel, which has been proven to bring about long-lasting change, and that is by being mindful.
Scientists have found that the brain can only create new pathways when we pay attention to what we are doing. If you go around saying affirmations by rote without really thinking about what they mean, they won’t have much impact upon your life. Say affirmations consciously, focusing on positive emotions and follow that up with action that makes you feel good and you will get an entirely different outcome. Our brain is constantly remaking itself in response to outside stimuli, our environment and our experiences.
Neuroplasticity occurs when the mind is in a state of focus and attention, this is commonly known as being mindful.
Being mindful, as well as inducing a state of calm, means we can change our emotional response to events that once upset us, and we can change beliefs which prevent us from moving forward.
Mindfulness is the practice of observing yourself. It is observing the way we think and feel without judging.
Drugs for depression work from the bottom up. Cognitive behavior therapy works from the top down. Mindfulness based cognitive therapy keeps the depression circuit from being completed.
No one is happy all of the time, but when we are mindful we notice our emotions and that allows us to take control of them rather than having our emotions run our lives. Attention training changes lives. Rather than just making a decision to be more mindful, which you’ll probably forget within a day, link being mindful to any activity that stresses or challenges you. Or set a specific time each day and put a reminder into your phone to stop and focus on what is happening in the world around you.
By training yourself to be mindful you start to recognise those things that bring you joy. When you add more things that bring you joy into your daily life you feel happier. When you feel happy you have a positive influence on the world around you.