What makes us feel good or bad? Who decides our good or bad moods? It is habitual and practical to say ‘other people’, ‘circumstances’, ‘fate’ or ‘luck’. But could it be that for the most part it is us who create our own moods? Could it be that feeling good instead of feeling bad is a choice?
If so, why do not we choose to feel good all the time regardless of people, circumstances, fate or luck? What if subconsciously we choose to feel good when we experience something pleasant, and in the same way we choose to feel bad when we experience something unpleasant. You might say that some people choose to feel bad even when they experience something good. “Nothing would make him happy”, I heard people say. The word choose implies control over what we think about. If we pause for a second and step away from our thoughts, imagine a conveyor belt grinding to a halt.
Only this conveyor belt is ever so quick to resume from a halt. With our thoughts paused, we may ask ourselves, “How do I feel now?” For example, today I am not feeling so well. I have a cold which means I have to spend the day inside rather than outside in the sunshine. Our minds need a reason for the way we feel. I feel this way because I am doing this, I feel that way because I am experiencing that. I wish something else were happening to me so I would feel good. But how about I have a cold so I have to spend the day inside and can finally finish reading my book in peace. In every feeling of bad, we can find a cause for feeling good. It is only if we keep hanging on to that initial point of reference that our feeling will persist in its bad form.
We all agree that the opposite to good is bad. And while there are some universally accepted bad things, what is good for one person may not be so for another. In fact, quite the contrary may be the case. What one may consider a good experience may be a very undesirable situation to somebody else. Some events that are unthinkable we say, if we happen to experience them, may lead us to change the direction of our lives and find a new meaning for the future. How many times did we hear or read a story about people who have experienced some trauma, physical or mental, only to emerge stronger and with a determination to make the most of their lives. This happens despite the bad feelings they inevitably experienced going through the unpleasant situation.
It is also true that we mostly worry and have feelings about things that are uniquely unpleasant for us. We all have pet irritations that we know will make us feel bad, but we are so used to them that they become part of who we are. My top cause of feeling bad for years had been if something that I own got damaged. Someone else could not care less about their belongings being lost or destroyed, but they would be annoyed at receiving feedback about the work they did. I on the other hand welcome feedback as an opportunity to improve my work.
No doubt that being sick, having a car accident, being the victim of a crime or suffering any other universally ‘unfortunate’ circumstance does not make us feel well. However, as hard as it may be to admit even these seemingly random events always have us as contributors to their happening to us. This is not to say that to feel well we have to accept responsibility for everything and everyone that happens to us. It also does not mean that every bad feeling will have an experience that caused it.
While it helps to surround ourselves with people and situations that contribute to our feeling well, the true reason behind our feeling good or bad, happy or sad, rich or poor, healthy or sick, and any other feeling depends on our own acceptance of our true self. This is best seen in people who ‘have it all’, and yet are some of the most miserable people you would meet. ‘Having it all’ is not only about having a lot of money. Someone might be having difficulty trying to have a baby and for them having it all would be to get pregnant. To a sick person, health would be all they desire. But eventually even good health, plenty of money, and great relationships do not make up who we truly are. Our true self are not our thoughts and emotions, although they do emanate from it. Our true self are not the goals and dreams we have. Our true self are not our possessions and relationships. Our true self are not the irritations that make us feel this way or that way. Our true self is the I behind the ‘I’. The one that stops the conveyor belt of thoughts and observes them lying there or hanging there as it were in that fleeting moment of stillness.
Whatever our understanding of the concept of true self we have all experienced catching ourselves thinking. That experience of observing our thinking process is based on our true self. Our true self is always constant and to be in touch with it is to feel well no matter what goes on or does not go on around us or inside us. To be in touch with our true self is to be accepting of who we truly are.
Become a frequent observer of your thoughts and feelings. Our thoughts sometimes generate our feelings, just as our feelings cause more thoughts. No need to break this circle. The conveyor belt of thoughts and feelings is part of our human condition. Just observe what your mind is thinking and feel the strength this gives you. Believe in your true self. Ask yourself how do you feel at any given moment. If you feel bad, hit that pause button and quickly knock those irritations off the conveyor belt. Accept yourself as you are and do not compare your own thoughts to someone else’s. Feeling well is being who you already are.