Thich Nhat Hanh on What We May be Missing in Life

Here is Mondays Mindful Quote with Thich Nhat Hanh:

“When we settle into the present moment, we can see beauties and wonders right before our eyes—a newborn baby, the sun rising in the sky.”

This quote directly speaks to the fact that coming down from our busy minds allows us to break out of our habitual tunnel vision of seeing and experiencing life and retreain our neural networks to open up to perhaps the pleasant things that are also occurring in our daily lives.

It’s good to be mindful of the lenses we’re using to interpret the world we live in.

These lenses are often mindlessly crafted over time through the experiences we have in the world. If we grew up in an anxious household we likely had to practice being on guard all the time creating neural networks that allowed for an anxious survival reaction to happen without the need for deliberate thought. These neural networks were adaptive when we were young, but not as adults perhaps. In fact, as adults, these networks hinder us as we find ourselves in an unconscious tense reaction to our own feelings because it wasn’t ok to express these when we were young.

Oh boy, how do we unwind these neural networks that are no longer adaptive and begin to open ourselves to pleasant events in daily life?

One answer is through the awareness of this reaction. Come down from the reactive mind and just stick to the facts of the moment, the tension in the body. In other words, interrupt the cycle between thoughts, emotions and physical sensations.  

We can also begin unpacking the pleasant moments in life to get the mind used to recognizing these. One way of doing this is thinking of moments as a collection of thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations.

Here’s an example we can use right now:

Look back on this day (if it’s early in the morning, look to yesterday) and consider, was there a pleasant event, however small, that occurred today?

If yes, do you recall how what thoughts were on your mind? What emotions were there, and what were the associated physical sensations (e.g., relaxation, softness, butterflies in the stomach)?

The idea here is not to get caught in a Pollyanna rose colored lens way of looking at life, but just to get the mind used to recognizing these moments that are also very real.

Try this out. Feel free to comment below on what your pleasant event was and the associated thoughts, feelings and emotions. Your interaction below helps others flesh it out for themselves, so in a way, it is an act of care for yourself and also an act of altruism for others.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on

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