countdown 10: mindfulness

For a while, after giving birth to my son, I felt a sudden loss of my penchant for drama, a noticeable sense of emotional stability. In other words, I was steady and contented. And I often wondered what was wrong with me. Maybe I was so used to the roller coaster of emotions when the center of my world was just me that it felt weird to suddenly feel grounded. It used to be normal for me to complicate things, to inject drama to every aspect of my life, to be so conscious of what others will think or say about me. It could be that age and motherhood helped me become more matured and overcome such instability. Just some musings from a soon-to-be 30.

While waiting for my turn to the Ears, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor, I was reading an article in the August issue of Women's Health regarding Mindfulness being the new Happiness. A foreigner happened to sit beside me and noticed the iPad and what I was reading. He struck a conversation regarding happiness. He says there's this guy who wrote the book, the Power of Now which advocates becoming deeply conscious of the present moment, connectedness with self and other beings, and acceptance of life as it is. Our conversation turned to how happy we Filipinos are as compared to them US citizens, despite of them having a better life and a higher standard of living...which leads back to the whole point of the article in the magazine.

Sometimes we are too blinded by our pursuit of happiness that we do not give ourselves opportunity to embrace the other emotions that we humans do normally go through - pain, fear, disappointments, misery, grief. It is healthy to feel lonely and sad at times because one can never know the true meaning of happiness without experiencing loneliness. We can never live a truly meaningful life without going through the full range of emotions we humans are capable of.

There is good in the bad. For myself, I know that I write better when I'm melancholic. I've written poems when I was in my teenage years, a confused point in my life. Loneliness brings out something in us that happiness can not. I think I built an extraordinary bond with my girl friends in Dublin even though we've only been together for a short time because we shared a common sentiment - missing our loved ones. At my previous job (where I'm going back to), we felt close and had an unusual camaraderie because of the stress and demands of work. One cannot practice authentic empathy without going through the same pain and situation.

The next time you feel sad, embrace the emotion and take at it as a sign that maybe you're yearning for change, that it's about time you engage in something healthy or different. Be mindful. Be aware. Do not be a prisoner of your emotions, instead think out of the box, of the bigger picture. Breathe.

If it's any consolation, it's not normal to feel happy all the time. The key to a full life is living in the moment and relishing the now. Let us all find something to be thankful about in the present.

Without sadness, we would never know what happiness is. - Hugh Mackay, Psychologist


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