Ruminating on things we love to put us in a better frame of mind makes sense to me (as in the song My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music). After all, it's our thinking that sets the stage for our feelings. As Michael Neill (Life Coach & writer) says, "We feel our thoughts."
Though I'm not that moved by warm woolen mittens, I've got stuff on my list that works pretty well for me. The only thing is, I find it's not enough to think these things - I must be willing. I must have decided that feeling good is a better idea than feeling horrible. I must have determined that I wish to influence the way I feel, that I can influence the way I feel, and that I am going to influence the way I feel. All this focus and determination sets the table for a meal of something more palatable than misery.
The reason we're not always singing the My Favorite Things song to help one another (why it sort of teeters on the line between cloying and uplifting), is we know that one doesn't mention brown paper packages tied up with string to another who's looking upon their grimness as a part of them - like an internal organ. The image of raindrops on roses is not going to reach a person conjoined with depression. But it's not because it can't work or doesn't work, it's because there is something else to be addressed as well.
We must see the unhappiness as separate from us. We have to de-identify with the emotional reaction and identify with ourselves as One Who Beholds. Reacting is very different than Seeing. From willingness to only behold for a moment, we can think about snowflakes and ponies, without rolling our eyes, and reinvest in the delight of life rather than all the dramas. And in doing so, we remember who we actually are - not the sum of our reactions but, at core, an expression of life not unlike the raindrop or that snowflake.
That's why thinking things we love can work to cheer us - because when we think things we love, we stop seeing ourselves as a reaction we're having and remember ourselves as the inherent lover and appreciator we are.
When I was a kid I followed my Mom around the house, talking. She would go up the stairs - so would I. She would walk from room to room, putting away the laundry - so would I - not helping, just talking. She would go in to her bedroom - me too. She would lie down on her bed; I would sit and continue talking to her. She would go to the kitchen; there I was.
I had a lot to say. It seemed. And she would sort of listen. But although it appeared as if I was getting what I wanted - the microphone and a considerate audience - in truth, there were few times I felt worse than those times I was traipsing after her, words and worries spilling out of me.
I felt like I had something I just had to get out, something I needed to say but was never able to articulate. Instead, I just got lost in the rapids of retelling what I had seen, thought, heard, and felt that day.
I didn't actually want to be regurgitating my day's emotional swings; I wanted to feel grounded despite all of the mental fodder floating through my head. All of the talking, as it turns out, was a reflection of trying to reach for, strangely enough, stillness - calm. I wanted to feel safe and stable despite thoughts that were troubling me. But talking only calms when it is an expression of thought that's been given room to grow into insight in quiet, not in reactivity.
To this day, more often than I'd like, I find myself still talking when, in truth, I was done with the subject several minutes before. There is nothing more I am compelled to say, yet like a tap left on accidentally, there is still more coming out.
I find these moments disconcerting, but at the same time, an opportunity to remember that once I've spoken my truth on any topic, there is only one thing for which I might still be searching - to get re-rooted in the place from which that truth came: that stillness, that quiet. And in this way, I can be saved the drain of speaking without connection. And, happily, others are spared it too.
Traipsing after the world to get it to listen is an exhausting position. It has hopelessness built in. But when I no longer seek safety and grounding through talk, but through my inner stillness, my talk is left unburdened of that impossible mission and it no longer drains. When my own thinking empowers me, an interested audience naturally appears; and when I am done talking, I actually notice.
From the Inside