Mindfulness: 1. a concept in psychology that involves paying attention to the present moment with awareness but without judgment. 2. a ridiculously hard way to curb a negative outlook on life.
One of the things that causes me to act out from emotion (as opposed to rationality) is that I let my emotions have free range of my mind. If I feel a negative reaction to a situation or person, I don’t stop and say, “Hold on. Is this a valid reason to start yelling at someone or harboring resentment?” I say, “You feel hurt? Go ahead; do your worst.” Obviously this is not the best way to behave when dealing with human society.
Still, while I’ve heard about mindfulness before, I haven’t actually practiced it. It’s not because I thought it wouldn’t work. It’s just that it’s hard (see definition 2).
Yesterday though, when I got an informative email from LinkedIn telling me that an ex-friend who dumped me because I liked the Florida Keys (there’s more to that story, but trust me, you don’t want to know it) had recently started a new job with a title so vague it must pay really well, my first instinct was to let my emotions get carried away and be angry that someone who didn’t value me as a friend was doing well in her career.
But then I remembered to focus on each thing as I was feeling it and acknowledge it. The things I thought were: All she ever cared about was money and meeting single men, so she obviously took this job in a typically male-dominated field simply because she couldn’t find a boyfriend any other way, and, She probably doesn’t even know what her job title means, and, I wonder if I should cancel my credit card (because I have one with her company).
Amazingly, once I paid attention to each thought as it occurred, I realized that 1.) Even if I were still friends with this woman, the fact that all she cares about is money and finding a boyfriend wouldn’t change the fact that I have neither, 2.) There are lots of very intelligent people who have no idea what their job titles mean, and 3.) Though I never use that credit card, having it does sometimes let me purchase advance concert tickets.
Most importantly, though, I realized there’s no reason to get upset by someone else’s good fortune, even if it’s someone who so badly wanted to delete me from her life that she de-friended me on facebook.
Then, after I spent a few moments recognizing my feelings, I let them go.
It felt good to be in control of my emotions for once. I’m not saying I’m always going to practice mindfulness from now on. I think letting your emotions run free isn’t always a bad thing. But I also think sometimes it’s nice to be able to stop yourself from becoming an emotional wreck over something that doesn’t actually affect you at all.