While driving the other day, I noticed that the top of me was very hot in the sun, but my feet were cold from having just walked in the snow.
It would be awfully nice if I could tell the car to blow warm air onto my feet and cool air onto my face, I thought. That would feel so good! Just thinking about it made me smile and appreciate how wonderful comfort is.
And then came another line of thought: Oh come on! There are people who don't even have cars. Can you really not handle a little physical discomfort? Instantly the joy was replaced with guilt. Guilt for wanting something more than I have, for wanting something that most other people will probably never have. I started feeling tense, and a little disgusted.
Wait a minute, countered the first line of thought. I never said I couldn't handle discomfort, or that I wanted my own comfort at the expense of anyone else's. I was just appreciating how nice it would be to have relief. Is there really anything wrong with that? Am I supposed to want to be uncomfortable? The guilt subsided. And I took off my coat.
I share this because it's a great example of how much our happiness is shaped by our thoughts, and how quickly our sense of well-being can change based on those thoughts: Doing things to increase joy feels good; doing things to avoid pain feels bad. Appreciation feels good; guilt feels bad. Wishing happiness for all people feels good; focusing only on ourselves feels bad.
The objective situation can stay exactly the same, but the meaning we give to it really matters.
Which areas of your life feel good right now, and which ones don't?
What thoughts are you thinking that reinforce those feelings?
What happens when you focus on different thoughts?