When it comes to life, we truly don't know what we have until it's gone. Although it may not always feel like it, life is the most precious gift. What makes it so difficult for us to maintain this perspective? It seems so easy for us to fall into negativity or become so problem focused. However, I believe we innately desire happiness and joy. How do we then explain our predicament?
As human beings we have been blessed with the gift of consciousness. Sometimes it feels like a curse. Knowledge can be suffering, and sometimes ignorance is bliss. But there is no placing the genie back in the bottle. We cannot unevolve back to a lower state. Our ability to use our higher intelligence has given humanity many amazing creations and discoverings, such as the arts, space travel, and technology.
The brain is primarily focused on survival
The problem for us arises from the fact we still have what is referred to as the mammalian and reptilian brains in addition to our neocortex. These other two thirds of the brain are primarily focused on survival. As a result, they look for threats and what could go wrong in any situation. When we are operating primarily out of these parts of the brain, it can be very difficult to experience emotions, such as joy and gratitude. But all is not lost. Our higher brain has the ability to take back ownership of our focus of attention.
There are two steps I would recommend to begin achieving this goal. The first of which is to use focused attention (mindfulness) to become more aware of what we are orienting to on a regular basis, as well as our repetitive thought patterns and perceptions. You can then use your conscious mind to start focusing on your reality in a more realistic and empowering way. This will take intention and consistency to change old habituated patterns. Most people awaken and begin reacting to emails, texts, or television. This puts your mind in a defensive response to start your day. Taking charge of the beginning of your day with prayer, meditation, writing, or a gratitude practice allows your brain to stay out of survival mode and you to take ownership of your day and maintain a more emotionally regulated state.
Processing unresolved emotional memories
The other thing to I would advise to begin experiencing a more joyful and happy state is to identify and process various unresolved emotional memories. These perpetuate pain in our lives. To the primitive brain, pain is a survival threat. This will keep these parts of your brain in a defensive response robbing you of peace and serenity. Working through these emotionally blocked states will release you and will facilitate your ability to become more present.
Taking these steps will permit you to develop the capacity to cherish each day. Furthermore, you will experience a higher level of peace and joy in your daily life. Start now! Every minute you wait is another moment lost. Each day is a gift. Appreciate it and spend it wisely.
John Hawkins Jr., M.S., L.M.H.C.
John has helped thousands of clients overcome the hidden internal blocks which had kept them from achieving their maximum potential. Furthermore, he has assisted them in gaining clarity of their true life purpose, identifying their gifts and talents, and developing lives of greater meaning and significance.