Mental Flexibility for Happiness: The Key to a Relaxed Mind

Mental Flexibility for Happiness: The Key to a Relaxed Mind
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

If you have mental flexibility, you’ll be able to adjust your actions according to your interests. In the end, happiness always responds to a mind that knows how to guide itself, accepts its own emotions, connects with others, and has a clear goal.

When we talk about mental flexibility, it’s rather common to instantly picture a bamboo forest. A forest that, amidst the storm, bends in the presence of wind and water and then goes back to its original position. This metaphor is very illustrative. However, the authentic magic of bamboo doesn’t reside in its flexibility, but in its resistance. 

The brain has many more possibilities and energy than we think. Why don’t we make an effort to enhance those qualities, instead of suppressing them?”

-Jenny Moix-

So, our health doesn’t depend solely on what we do, but also on what we think. Sometimes we can’t perceive how weak our mental and emotional balance is. Our mind might not be the most pleasant place to live in. It can store fears, obsessions, sorrow…

Jenny Moix explains in her book Mi mente sin mí (My mind without me) that genuine happiness doesn’t involve only the ground we walk in. A great part of our well-being resides in our mental processes. Following this line of thought, we may say that by becoming more flexible, we’ll be able to face every challenge or adversity that comes our way.

Woman with purple dress in the wind.

Being flexible in order to experience fewer negative emotions

Whoever lives their life with a rigid and inflexible mind will inevitably stop when faced with an obstacle, fearful of being harmed. So, a mind that can’t adapt or control its own automatic thoughts can’t ever be genuinely happy.

There are many scientific studies that prove a reality: psychologically flexible people are more likely to have a better quality of life. This approach helps them better manage their emotions, respond more creatively to difficulties, and enjoy positive and meaningful relationships.

Being flexible also makes us more effective and productive. This ability allows us to reach for the necessary resources in order to adapt and react to unexpected or new situations.

 Jenny Moix, Author of Mi mente sin mí (My mind without me)

Jenny Moix is a writer and psychology professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). She’s also a member of the Stress and Health Research Program and her research is centered on chronic pain, consciousness, and mindfulness.

  • In her book Mi mente sin mí (My mind without me)she mostly talks about better understanding the anatomy and behavior of our mind. She teaches us to focus on observing ourselves and to look at our mind from a distance to see what’s going on in our mental palace. Our mind is filled with emotions and thoughts that wander as they please and catastrophic worries that drown everything else.
  • If we learn to be flexible, we’ll be able to illuminate elements that are deep inside our mind. This is the only way we’ll be able to take the wheel and take responsibility for our suffering.

Training our mental flexibility in order to be happy

Be flexible to be happy. That should be our daily motto. However, when we spend half of our lives caught up in that unstoppable mental machine called preoccupation, anxiety, or insecurity, it’s very hard to form new habits.

We wish to look at things from another perspective, to train our flexibility to be more resistant to changes and adversity, but how? It’s not always good to only focus on the results we want to get. Establishing small goals to reach a bigger one will allow us to reward ourselves as we develop new strategies.

Be open

  • Stop thinking in ‘absolute’ terms. Nothing is black or white. Just because someone isn’t with you, doesn’t mean they’re against you. Thus, you should abolish the practice of deeming everything either good or bad.
  • Dare to discover the hues between the two extremes. Reality is filled with details, richness, perspectives, and learning.

Enjoy the present moment

  • Our mind loves to wander. It often escapes to the past and to what could have been. It’s also used to traveling to the future and anticipating a thousand catastrophes and misery.
  • Make it stop. Learn to seduce your mind into being in the present moment where the things that matter happen.

Connect with what truly matters

Being flexible means not forgetting where you come from and staying connected to your values and to what truly matters. By doing this, judgment and other people’s opinions will have less power on you.

In conclusion, flexibility is a great ability to have and a good way of enduring the unexpected. Thus, getting the proper tools to improve it will definitely help you enjoy a happier life.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.