Yesterday was a bummer of a day for a laundry list of reasons that I’d rather not get into.
I was brought up with the beliefs that one has power over their own mind: when you’re in the depths of despair the shining sun is a curse on the world, when you’re happy as a clam, no amount of rain could pull your spirits down. That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but the ethos is basically, when you’re bummed, try to feel better. If you’re stuck in thoughts that make you feel bad, stretch your mind to find a thought that feels better–even very marginally. Once you get even that millimeter closer to a better feeling thought, you’ll have access to even better feeling thoughts.
My philosophy and cognitive science education proved to strengthen my beliefs in the power of thought. In particular, Heidegger’s philosophy of the mind rings true and supports this. He points out that if you’re thirsty, everywhere you look you will see the possibility of quenching your thirst. Or, if you’re tired and on a long hike, a boulder that otherwise would have blended into the background jumps out at you as a place to finally rest.
I noticed last night that I was stuck in a place where everything looked like failure. I’ve been spinning my wheels on a few projects, and it’s lasted far longer than I ever would have expected or hoped. When it came time to do the dishes and then take off for my evening activity, I knew that I needed something to lift my spirits. The song I chose to facilitate this was “Fill Your Heart” by David Bowie.
He sings, “Fill your heart with love today…things that happened in the past only happened in your mind. Forget your mind and you’ll be free…Lovers never lose because they are free of thoughts unpure and unkind…”
The mind is a powerful organ, one capable of ruminating about failures and embarrassments ad infinitum. I like this notion that if you fill your heart with love (try it! It feels great) you almost are out of room for the brains obsessive ponderings. The feeling left instead makes room for forgiveness of ones self and others, and celebration of your own power.
It also helps that the song is pretty cheery.