“Happiness is not a matter of events, it depends upon the tides of the mind”. Alice Meynell
When I started training to become a counsellor, I didn’t know the journey would change my perspective on happiness.
Like most people life events have shaped and changed me, sometimes for the good, but often they seemed to rob me of happiness, holding me back for far too long. In this post, I offer some insights into how we can gain more control over our happiness, when we learn to surf the tides of the mind.
The tides of the mind – the ebb and flow of our thoughts and feelings.
- When our thoughts are racing like the rush of the incoming tide, we might experience a flood of feelings like joy, anger or fear. Whereas slow moving thoughts, like the waves at low tide, sometimes leave us feeling like sad, washed-up and depleted.
Learning how we feel and respond to situations starts in infancy.
- With babies the survival instinct helps them to identify whether a situation is beneficial or dangerous to their wellbeing. Building on these primal learnings with new experiences, children learn to assess situations as good or bad and respond accordingly.
The influences that shape our thinking and judgements as a child come with us into adulthood.
- When we encounter different people and situations in adult life, our minds search previous experiences for a ‘pattern’ match, often unconsciously influencing how we react.
Identify and understand the ‘patterns’ to influence the tides of the mind.
- By becoming consciously aware of our ‘patterns’ and their effect on our thoughts, feelings and behaviour, we open up the possibility of managing the tides of the mind.
When ‘events‘ happen, we can to choose how to respond.
- Equipped with the awareness of past influences and supported by the knowledge and experience gained as adults, we can make a conscious choice about how we think, feel and act in any situation. It may take practice but, rather than leave our happiness at the mercy of events, we can choose to take control of the tides of the mind.
Before I became a counsellor, I’m pretty sure I bought into the idea that happiness was a matter of events.
Now, through learning how to surf the tides of the mind day by day, I’ve experienced more moments of calm, acceptance and contentment than I ever thought possible. It’s been a gift – and its one I’d like to share with you.