How to Use Shortcuts to Feeling Good
Able and Not Knowing It
I could never fully accept that old adage that "nothing changes overnight". Intuitively something sounded wrong about it, because life is filled with almost moment to moment examples where we shift from one situation to another with no overlap in experiencing.
Taking a shower finds us in entirely different gear of experiencing than having a dinner with the family, and making love has emotionally nothing to do with repairing a flat tire on the road. We go through those instant changes all the time, but it never dawns on us that our nervous system is equally able to shift from a relatively lousy emoting to a relatively happy one.
In that respect we feel helpless, simply because it is not something talked about. I mean, others are not saying that they are "doing it all the time".
Someone in the field of neuroscience has coined it "mirror neurons" - meaning our brain's ability and tendency to mimic something that "has been done". No one has ever grown wings out of their shoulder blades, so that is one of those things that our mirror neurons will not honor no matter how much we might want to play Peter Pan.
But there are individuals who used self-hypnosis to stop bleeding, or those who beat cancer with nothing but their minds. How about that well documented case of a frail old woman who lifted the side of the car to save her son who got pressed under while repairing it.
All this is promptly rejected by our minds as not doable "to us". So we keep our "mirror neurons" out of commission, willing to believe only in changes which take some long re-conditioning, and even then questioning if we would do it successfully.
Our Nerves Can Do It - Why Can't We?
All being said, this article may only inspire those who have not entirely shut the door to a possibility of instant changes in their minds; those who left it ajar with enough curiosity that might reactivate those mirror neurons in them.
Is our nervous system capable of a sharp shift from a lousy to a happy feeling? The answer is yes, and the simple proof would be a sudden discovery that we have won a lottery jackpot. I just can't see a depressed or bored person who would merely sigh and say: "Too bad that I am feeling so low, but maybe tomorrow if I feel any better I might get excited about it."
So we know that our nerves are allowing an instant shift, and there is no excuse there. As all of us would agree - it's an issue of a strong enough stimulus, like winning on lottery that would allow us to make that instant change from bored to happy.
The Mental Trick of Skipping
As it will soon turn out to be obvious, we don't really need a strong push on the gas to feel better, but we may have to take our foot off the brake. This is one of the biggest discoveries that I have made in my observing of my own mental dynamics.
That's how I came up with a mental trick which I simply called "skipping". Imagine having to cross a creek with some stones sticking out in an almost straight line. How would you get to the other side? Let's see first how the "old", reluctant mindset would handle it - the one that sees a need for a "gradual change".
So here you step on one stone and try to keep your body balanced on it while planning how to make a safe step to the next stone. More likely than not, you would lose your balance and end up in water.
Then, if you made it to the next stone, the same would repeat with you bound to check on your profanities repertoire. Eventually you might make it across, but so wet that crossing would not feel like having been worth doing after all.
Don't Pause on Any Stones
Now, what about doing it another way. Most of you got it right after the question came up - you just take a momentum and hardly stepping with the full foot on each stone you find yourself on the other side.
Now try to translate in your mind both of those attempts to your resolve to instantly change your mood. How do you get from the point A to the point B in your mood? Not by "trying" the first step to see how it feels. Remember, you'll "end up in water".
What you do is just focus on that desired "feel" of already being on the other side, and skip everything what is not that "feel" until you are there. Don't pause at any phase of it, don't spy on your progress, simply skip across.
Turning on Your Mirror Neurons with Flexibility
While I am giving you these simple instructions, check on your mind - you'll see a pile of mental obstacles already thrown on that path, spelling "No, I can't, because I have never done it before".
But now is the time for your mirror neurons to be turned on. It has been done, it is humanly possible to do, and there is no miracle about it. For one, I have been doing it for years, and probably many others around the globe as well. All it takes is some mental flexibility and an open mind.
You know what Einstein said : "We can't solve a problem using the same mindset that created it". So, as long as we stay fixated in the position of those self-created obstacles, we can't use that position as our starting point for our mental sprint.
Under Layers of Stress We Are Still Kids
For a moment think of kids who playfully run around and laugh without understanding "why" they are so happy, and "how" they are so successful doing it. They don't need to first study Buddhism in order to find peace, and they don't need to practice yoga to have so flexible joints.
I know you won't believe me, but I am still going to say it : all the chances are that our joints get so stiff in adulthood because they are following the stiffness of our minds. We forgot how be loose, how to just be. Layer after layer of stress is piling upon our vitality until we suffocate it.
So, let's do something about that stiffness in our minds, and who knows - maybe suddenly your arthritis will be mysteriously gone too. I know, your doctor would laugh at that. But maybe he would stop laughing after hearing that at this age of almost 72 I have no stiffness in my body, no pain or discomfort, and yes - I just shift from an ordinary, "neutral" mood to a happy one at will.
Just to Be Repeated With Ease
Back in old, good Europe, in those old, good teenage years, we had an extremely lot to learn in that "not so good" high school. The curriculum was nothing like what kids are learning these days on this American continent.
We had subjects like Latin, philosophy, psychology, logic, art, music, evolution, world geography, world history from prehistoric times on, constitution, math, physics, chemistry, English, literature, and physical education.
With much to memorize, cue cards would come handy at times. So I'll never forget our art professor giving to us, what he called a "memno-technical key" - how to memorize those six famous painters impressionists' names. P - Ma - De - Si - Mo - Re was the key, and it was short for Pissarro, Manet, Degas, Sissley, Monet, and Renoire.
Why am I saying to you all this? To impress you with the fact that mind's shortcuts can be so effective as to stay with us for the rest of our life. You see, I can still remember it after almost six decades have past, and without it I would have probably forgotten those six names.
Once you use skipping as your "memno-technical key", a pattern of instant emotional "getting there from here", your mirror neurons will kick in - while merely mimicking something "what has been humanly possible and done".