The Mindfulness Of Feeling Good

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes,  but in having new eyes.”

Marcel Proust

See LookAfter I graduated from Yale, I had the opportunity to take any course in the University I wanted for free, just with no grade or credit.

Can you imagine such a treasure to choose from?

I chose art, something I had always wanted to study but never really had the time to pursue. I eventually took a number of courses, but the first stood out because in it, I learned the lesson that I would carry for the rest of my life.

I drew my first drawing, and my instructor said to me that I couldn’t “see,” that I wasn’t really seeing what I was looking at.

He was right. It was schlock.

My brain was not really seeing what I was looking at.Vision Eyes

My brain had to be trained to bring my sense of seeing into much clearer focus.

I looked and tried again, and still it was schlock. Again and again I tried, and I painted what I thought I saw. But I couldn’t get it right.

Close to giving up, I went to an art exhibit at the Yale Art Gallery of the work of Bada Shanren, a monk several hundred years dead, and an absolute master of seeing with such simple, simple lines.

I sat for a couple of hours, and I started to learn to see.

As I began to really see, I could begin to draw as I looked and looked and looked, and then made a stroke, then looked and looked, and made another.

Brain Vision PunShortly thereafter in my art class, before I was even halfway through the current project, my instructor came by and said, “Oh my, you are beginning to see.”

All of my brain was learning to see in ways for which I had never used the sense of seeing before.

So it is with listening, so it is with feeling, so it is with every sense.

The brain will always sharpen when we bring the faculty of pronounced attention to anything.

So I have decided to bring my attention to what is good, what is positive, what works, and it has revolutionized my thinking, seeing, hearing, knowing, and being.

I even started to pay attention to what I was feeling. And much of the time I didn’t like it very much. So I changed. I just made a conscious decision to change what I was feeling. I had no Positivity Choicesgood excuse to feel tepid, melancholy, and half alive. I had every reason for joy, love, peace, hope, and gratitude.

All the reasons to feel these feelings were around me and within me. All I had to do was attend to them, pay attention to what was really important, SEE what was really significant, and my emotions could paint the canvas of a happier, more grateful life.

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin
  • Kathleen Burkhalter

    After reading this, I wonder which of my senses has not been developed to its best. I know that neuroplasticity lasts our whole life long. I’m thinking about what I can do next.

  • Now I want to take an art class. When I was in coaching school, we had to embrace the concept of “beginners mind” and try something new. It was a good practice. I chose Aikido. I had more bumps and bruises than ever before — and that was just the ones on my ego. Eventually, the language and fluid “trust your body” requests started integrating. I remember feeling anxious when I first approached this new experience; I remember feeling alive as my body and mind “got it”. Then time flew!

  • lisabeardwood

    They say seeing is believing, the real seeing is choosing what you want to see and believe. I choose to be grateful, to live with ease and to be mindful of joy, peace, hope and love. I know as these thoughts grow in me that my life will be the life well lived. Most are blind to the concept because they have not realized that what you choose to see and think is what you will receive.

  • I always say there are three parts in the changing process: 1. Self-awareness, 2. Decision, and 3. Action. I am reflecting now and coming up to the conclusion that this is too mental ! what about adding FEELING and the question will be, how to make our clients to feel the change ??? if we feel it from the inside it could be more sure that the change will take place. This is a challenging question, how to make clients to feel the need of change ? any suggestions ?

    • Joanne E Harrington

      The question you asked Macarena is the one I asked myself after I had completed a coaching program almost two years ago that left me feeling ill-equipped to assist my clients. Is it our role as coaches to “make” a client feel the need to change? Of course we don’t want to push our clients to take what we see is an obvious step in their understanding and transition. For me, when I feel I want to “make” a client try another way of thinking and feeling, I ask an open-ended question. Our role is to help the client discover through a change in their feeling and thinking, the excitement of choosing to view their World a little differently. In our efforts as coaches to support our clients so that they can live happier and more fulfilled lives, it is an occupational hazard to over-use our strengths of caring and kindness. When I start to feel an eagerness for a client to push harder to discover the brilliance of NeuroPositivity, I realize I am no longer in the moment with my client. In other words I am no longer connecting with them emotionally. As NP coaches,we learn how to help our clients reflect on how aligned their thoughts and feelings are within the UpSpiral. Often the alignment is not yet there for them. What works for me is asking the client what would be different for them in their feelings and thoughts if there ES and UP scores were a five or 10 points higher. Connecting to the feelings they describe helps the client sense the difference and feel the possibilities that will open up for them. With joy and appreciation for being on this learning curve with you, Joanne

      • Joanne, I thank you very much for your comment. I did not mean to “make” the client “feel” as I agree with you that we will loose the present moment and guiding too much. I meant how to add emotions in this process from becoming self-aware, taking decision and making the first step. They are much used to think than feeling.

  • As I read this post, a flood of emotions filled me from within. I experienced a sense of inner RECOGNITION as I followed the sequence of this article from taking an art class, to drawing, to seeing, to listening, to knowing, to being. The line that my mind’s eye attuned to is: “The brain will always sharpen when we bring the faculty of pronounced attention to anything.” I am grateful for the progression that was followed from taking an art class (in which the ability to see deeply was honed) all the way down to the decision to change the way of feeling. I am in a space of “awe and wonder” as I contemplate how crucial paying attention and attending consciously can be!

  • A. Fagan

    Sharing positive emotion has become an exciting connection in my relationships. It can be easy to listen to another as they complain about an aspect of their life, and go down the spiral with them. Sometimes, I now suggest that they choose one of the five emotions and not waste any more time on the negative. This transforms my thinking as well. When I think of them and their dilemma, I pulse the positive emotion for myself as well.

  • MissTowner

    That poster is such a beautiful truth. If I’m having a “rough day”, all I pay attention to are the things that give me a reason to feel bad. The same is when I’m having a “good day”, I see everything through a lense of beauty. How easily we forgot we choose how our days and lives unfold. I know i need more of “just this”.

  • Dr. gloria wright

    So true that our senses sharpen as we begin to focus our attention and seek to “see with a new perspective.” We often find what we are looking for. If we look for wrongdoings, that’s what we see. If we look for stupidity, that’s what we see.

    Victims are a great example of this. They see the world two dimensionally: who has done me wrong and who will rescue me? They see anything but how they have participated, how they are responsible and how they can help themselves.

    It is an interesting and novel idea to believe that we can choose how we feel. Yes, choose how we feel. How many of us are still letting our emotions be a reaction to our perceptions? The first choice is choosing what we perceive; the second is how we feel. To further clarify, we can choose how we feel without first perceiving anything. It can be a challenge to stay out of judgement. I find curiosity can replace judgement and criticism. Rather than, “They were so _____,” just replace it with it with, “Isn’t that an interesting perspective?”

    Don Miguel Ruiz, in The Four Agreements, says, “Don’t Take Anything Personally.” He continues with, “Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are aware of the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”

    I choose to see my world in a way that supports my being grateful and feeling good. It doesn’t mean that we don’t face challenges, have losses and sometimes flounder on our way. But where are you going to land? Where are you going to spend most of your time? How do you choose to feel?

  • Linda Moore

    Sometime it is a matter of retaining the mind not to see in the ways it has been taught. There is a Harry Chapin song about red flowers and green leaves that talked about the woes of the stifled art classes that have only one way of drawing/painting what is seen when the world actually presents rainbows. Very conditioned to see things in only one way

  • It is so true that you create your own reality. If you do not set your intention for the day, if you do not focus and practice mindfulness with the same discipline as exercising the body, we slip into the “lazy mind” that goes anywhere. Then the eyes see from that place. When I focus on say Love, and I feel from that space my top strengths start to come into play. My capacity to love and be loved, my appreciation of beauty, gratitude, fairness and spirituality. I feel connected and in sync and connected to creation, now there is art. Here we are in unity with the Universe.

  • Joanne E Harrington

    After reading The New Executive Brain by Elkhonon Goldberg, Ph.D. I have learned that some people may have difficulty being mindful about what happiness means to them and remembering that they have the freedom to choose to be happy. Bringing intention into conscious focus ( paying attention to intention) is a difficult task for anyone with frontal lobe damage because resolving ambiguity is a function of this key part of our brain structure. Dr. Goldberg notes that the inability to reduce ambiguity shows up as vacillating, uncertain and inconsistent behaviour, The information we teach will be new territory for many of our clients and may take a bit of time to absorb and integrate into their usual view of the World. It is exciting to hear a client’s “a-ha moment”. My take away from this blog article and my reading about the functioning of the frontal lobe brain structures is that I just might run into a client who will not be able to get what I teach. Luckily I have in Drs. Larkin and Johnson mentors who will guide me should such a situation arise in my coaching practice.

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