If We Dwell in Our Negative Experiences, They Will Have Greater Strength
We call situations we have experienced to mind through our memories, words, and places. When we focus our attention on negative memories, on what didn’t go the way we’d hoped, on what made us uncomfortable, on what cannot be resolved, and we don’t stop, we are giving them the ability to cause us recurring and infinite harm.
Today, worry can be considered an epidemic. Roughly 60% of patients who consult their family doctor complain about issues related to anxiety. We certainly have a lot to worry about, but maybe we are adding several mirages to this sack that is already full as is.
Research has shown that 40% of our worries are related to events that are never going to take place, 30% are events which have already happened, and 22% have to do with something that is about to happen.
As studies have demonstrated, the problem lies in the fact that most of our worries are over things that will never happen or that have already happened. When we stop in our misfortunes, we cause an alteration in the current state of our mind, with a multitude of distortions that are risk factors for illnesses like anxiety or depression.
Negative situations have been, are, and will be a constant situation in our lives; we are always going to have something that is not to our liking. The key lies in knowing how to stand up to them and overcome them with thoughts adjusted to our reality.
“Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”
When we stop life in the past
According to Antonio Jorge Larruy, one of the greatest obstacles to finding happiness is looking for happiness in the wrong place. An example can be found in a Filipino village, which has a high poverty index and whose territory is most affected by natural disasters. However, according to the Center of Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, it is the happiest in the world, far ahead of multimillionaire cities like Monte Carlo.
Maybe the secret lies in living in the moment, without worrying about whether or not a hurricane shook or will shake our houses and basing our existence on a broad network of social and family support, while consumerist pressure, lack of communication, stress, and the importance that we give to the past and the future in interconnected societies stop us from enjoying the present.
“We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh –
Educating our thoughts on the present
When our mind gets lost in the past or the future, our brain is left numb and we activate the right prefrontal lobe, where negative emotions are located. American universities like MIT or Harvard note that focusing our thoughts on the present opens new channels in our left prefrontal lobe, leading us to experience more positive emotions.
Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen master, peace activist, and nominee for the Nobel Prize, maintains that residing in the present moment constitutes the only true path towards finding peace in oneself and in the world. A large portion of the pains that we suffer is due to emotional pain and our lack of control over our minds, which create imaginary worlds that are far from the present and almost always destructive.
In order to train our thoughts, it is necessary for us to observe what is happening in our mind without passing judgments or getting hung up on our thoughts. If we are completely established in the present, as Thich Nhat Hanh says, “you don’t need to run after objects of your craving, like power, fame, sensual pleasure, and so on.”
“True love is made of understanding.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh-