Train the Mind and Grow Happier

We thought that you may find this excerpt from an article posted on the Psychology Today website to be powerful, and potentially helpful. View the article in its entirety at the URL below.

Having retired, my favourite uncle certainly didn’t expect the mental burden that accompanied his privilege of no longer having a job.

“Day after day,” he said, “I have lots of free time. My mind is in a state of chaos. I can’t stop thinking too much and my past mistakes are starting to haunt me.”

If you ever were unemployed with not much to do, or if you were sick and bedridden for a while, perhaps you had a similar experience.

Did you notice that whenever you slow the pace down, as my uncle did, the mind gets more active and even takes over your moods and emotions? All sorts of thoughts come for a visit and a few of them – which you’re normally too busy to entertain – even stick around. The sticky thoughts tend to be unpleasant and you end up feeling miserable.

Growing older may mean, for many people, that there’s more time for the mind to run wild. The mind’s tendency to dwell on past regrets or to anticipate the future with fear only gets stronger.

Do you have a strategy and the proper tools to cope with a mind in such a state?

Baby boomers are joining the ranks of retirement in growing numbers. It’s critical they become skillful at managing the mind in order to grow happier as they get older.

You’re not nearly the only person whose life has been a mixture of joy and success, and adverse events and negative feelings. Broken or dysfunctional relationships, failures and lost opportunities are commonplace in life trajectories, as are feelings of resentment, fear, guilt and jealousy.

Can you mitigate bad memories?

Do you entertain negative feelings or stressful thoughts about the future?

Old age can be very stressful. Particularly after age 75, it’s often associated with an accumulation of challenging conditions such as illness, disability, social isolation, needing more help and having to care for others.

Older people also face a series of disruptions, including bereavement and moving from their homes.

But old age doesn’t have to be depressing. If you’re well prepared, you can grow happier in spite of hardships.

But you can’t let your mind run free. The mind is your instrument and it should be at your service – not the other way around.

How good are you at preventing negative thoughts from taking hold of you?

In this series, I’m going to explore how the mind functions and discuss techniques you can use to train it properly. You will see that there’s no age limit to unlocking your potential. You can shine your light onto others as long as you live.

This column first appeared on Troymedia. © Nicole F. Bernier