Have you ever thought…
Have you ever thought, “when I get my new car I’ll be much happier” or “if I buy these shoes I won’t feel so down”?
Lots of us think that happiness and pleasure is the next car, new job, another iphone or new trainers. We get caught up in the magical world of “when then”.
The future becomes a dream, a fantasy, whereby all our desires will be fulfilled. We look forward to this fantasy, it becomes alive in our minds. We have a euphoric feeling, pleasure and joy then we get bored and have nextasy!!
What is nextasy? It’s what I describe as getting pleasure from what is around the corner, fantasising about it then wanting more. Unfortunately, we don’t know when to stop and this becomes a habit. Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t enjoy things but unfortunately our consumer habits are not helping us or our world; there are consequences. We have become a throwaway culture as consumer goods get cheaper and easier to replace.
It’s easy to see why we buy things; our brains have reward systems which release chemicals that give us a feeling of euphoria, we can feel this euphoria just by looking at things we want. It seems that the anticipation of having something can give us a “high”.
Getting excited about your delivery from online shopping isn’t a problem, or is it?
I can’t speak for everyone but there is the cliché of you can’t buy happiness. We can become dependant on the release of dopamine and endorphins when we buy something which makes it an expensive habit.
But is there another way?
Of course, being a mindfulness teacher and student of mindfulness, I’m going to try and sell you mindfulness!! How can mindfulness replace the pleasure of buying something you wanted?
It may not, however, for me I have found that when I catch myself moaning and comparing myself to others I realise that I may have inner resources instead of looking for the next hit of dopamine, serotonin and endorphins from a kerching off ebay!!
Being mindful we become more aware of what we have, what we are surrounded by and who we are surrounded by. There are specific practices for appreciating what we have using gratitude.
We can also become more aware of when we resist unwanted feelings, pain and thoughts using distraction strategies. I avoid the afternoon slump by eating something sweet to boost my energy. But this is only a temporary fix for my body clock doing its thing. I may binge on Netflix to escape feelings of boredom. But am I missing an opportunity to experience peace and stillness?
Becoming aware of what you do to avoid unwanted thoughts, feelings and sensations isn’t an overnight fix. Short term pain leads to long term gains; delaying gratification can build resilience as we come to realise that what we want isn’t the solution to our problems.
Sitting in the office looking out of the window mindfully in the present, I am taken aback by the abundance of greenery in Wales. We are rich in our landscape, culture and heritage and of course rain (joking). Perhaps this present is the gift we all want and need.
By Paul Griffiths
Well-being Course Practitioner