Life’s ups and downs and emotional states

Instability of life

Life is change, we know it. Things happen around us at very fast speed, and those things are not always good ones. On the other side, life needs stability for flourish: our body has basic needs that have to be fulfilled every day, even every minute, so living beings have to adapt to a ever changing environment.

Human beings are the most unstable of all living beings: not only our bodies are weaker (civilization effects) as other beings, but additionally we have the most developed nervous system of all creation on Earth; such system is able to change from stability to high instability in seconds, responding to external triggers, or even internal ones: a thought can change our mood almost instantly.

Instability of emotions

As a result, emotions usually changes very fast: we can move from positivity to negativity in one minute; that’s the case when something goes really wrong, but also sometimes happens without any external event, it simply happens. While the change in reaction to external circumstances is normal, even good, because a negative emotional state is information our body-mind gives us (like: hey! pay attention! something is going really wrong!), on the other side changes without any external trigger may be counterproductive.

Anyway, instability always must be a stimuli for adaptation to the events, this is their natural function. Emotions not are an exception: is normal experience emotional changes, but such instability must be brief, the person must recover their stability as fast as possible; otherwise, suffering will visit us, for a lasting unstable state is not healthy.

Due to our highly unstable nervous system, is very important for us to know coping techniques; coping with emotional instability has different variants, depending on the causes. Such techniques fall in two categories: psychological ones and spiritual ones, although there is some overlap between them.

Coping with emotional instability through psychological techniques

Without going into the field of therapy, simply being in the self-help, the techniques of Positive  Psychology are highly recommended for coping with “bad emotions”; most of such techniques are existentialist: recommend to full live your emotions, accepting them as part of life. Other recommendations and techniques are designed for improve our positive emotions, our ability for generate them voluntarily. This is a key point: emotional states usually are automatic, they come and go without our intervention; here we have a cognitive work for to do: 1) understand the mechanism of our emotional states, and become full aware of it,  2) intelligently use such understanding for become able of have the choice, for stopping the automatic mechanism, and choose how emotions will last and how will not.

The roots of Positive Psychology go back to Aristotle’s Practical Ethics based on the concepts: ‘Optimal functioning’, ‘Friendliness towards self’ and ‘Pursuit of a blossoming life’. Modern-day leading Positive Psychology researchers are noted. For further lecture, see, for example, Positive psychology: An overview (Mia Leijssen).

Coping with emotional instability through spiritual traditions

Spiritual traditions recommend meditation for overcome the difficulties of life and also for achieve peace of mind and a wise sense of life. Now a days, scientific approach and traditional ones are starting to be entangled: the effect of meditation have been widely study for scientists, who are checked it. The most studied traditional technique is the so named Mindfulness, although is not any  technique but a stable and peaceful state of mind, which you are reached by applying various techniques. The traditional techniques have a point in common with Positive psychology: they invite you to explore yourself, like a benevolent observer, discovering the mechanisms that are running automatically on you. When you become full aware of such mechanisms, the you start to become able of control it. 

Moreover, beyond the emotional states, spiritual development through meditation can be seen as a purging process in which you gradually root out the obstacles that keep you from your essence. In this sense, treading the spiritual path is not usually the easiest road to follow. In doing so you might be confronted with your darkest corners and your not so attractive traits. But in this process of growing awareness you also strengthen your life foundations. For further reflect on this path, you can read Spiritual Development, Surrender and Sacred Ground (Mia Leijssen).


In this short post we have seen the source of emotional ups and downs, the need of stabilize emotional states for live a healthy life, and two big categories of techniques for do it, such categories now a days are not longer opposed, instead, are full compatibles, so we can follow only one of them or both at the same time.



Luck and attitude in life

Get lucky in life

It is often said “he is lucky” or “he has luck” referring to someone when things are going well for him, or when he achieved some desirable object or perhaps a way of life, not because it has worked hard for it but because somehow he has been given it with apparently little effort or any effort. Maybe there is a point of envy in that thought, because that gift that has made life to that person, has been denied to us, we have not been that lucky. In addition, tacitly it assumed that this gift of life will provide satisfaction, well-being, or comfort, if it were not so, then it would be pointless to think that was lucky. This is a the popular concept behind this term, which also entails a certain emotion of envy.

However, that certain life situation, or object, is really valuable, provide an increased well-being, depending entirely on the person; it is a well known fact, but still often forgotten. There are countless cases of famous people who have become rich in four days, with very little effort, maybe had some special talent and were lucky to be discovered and to be given a chance, but despite that luck, that success, they have been unhappy, have fallen into drug abuse, even suicide.

On the contrary, some people with nothing, or very little, and being in adverse circumstances, show a state of happiness that really is enviable, as this African refugee girl:


Happiness in the middle of poverty

The positive attitude of this girl gets her emotional state is relaxed and happy regardless of external circumstances.

In addition, it also happens that we value things that are given us very differently, depending on the people: what for one may be something valuable for another will be worthless. Even often it happens that over time we don’t give value to something that initially had it, and then we believe that we are not lucky, not valuing what we have now; as is known, there are things that are valued only when we lose them.

So “get lucky” is very relative, because it really depends on our attitude to life, being the key that make us able to enjoy the gifts we are given. So let’s talk now about attitude.

The attitude towards life

The attitude of a person is a predisposition to take life in a particular line, acting accordingly.

So, we can have constructive attitudes, in which our perception of life tends to want to create, to collaborate with others, to see opportunities, or the opposite, destructive attitudes, in which we want to eliminate things we do not like, criticize, we see problems in all, etc. Similarly, in the broadest sense, there are positive attitudes and negative attitudes: the first value what we have and try to use it the best way for enjoy a satisfying life, which creates positive emotions towards life, such as joy or happiness; in the second attitude, refusal, we don’t value what we have, or value little, and instead give much value to what we  don’t have, so that the person experiences also negative emotions such as frustration, anxiety, envy, even rage because the sense of injustice (life does not treat you like you think you should treat).

Luck, strictly speaking, is like a lottery, is random, we can not influence it. But the attitude, that’s entirely ours, and we can re-educate them for the better. So in summary, we have said that the real lucky in life is to have a positive attitude towards it, it is what makes us appreciate what we already have, make the most of, and have a full life; if life brings us good things, they are welcome, if not, nothing is wrong. And how can we acquire this attitude for life? For sure there will be objections here … “but I have circumstances that are hard“, “but I have a past that weighs heavily” etc. etc. Well, let’s leave it clear: the attitude is completely independent of personal circumstances, a real positive acquired attitude, is firm, stable, maintained whatever the circumstances be.

Moreover, even adverse circumstances, as there are, and many, seen from a positive attitude become opportunities for personal growth, strengthening the person face of adversity; I remember a good example of this attitude given us for Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher, with somewhat humorously, but that encloses this positive attitude we’re talking about:

Young people, do not hesitate: become married; if you are lucky enough to find a good partner, you will be happy people, and if not, you will become philosophers, which is always useful for mankind. “- Socrates –

Notice that Socrates mentions “if you are lucky” because it really is needed in the choice of partner, but if luck is not with us, we can still grow as human being.

How to get a positive firm life attitude: positive psychology

The attitude belongs to the realm of interiority of the person, an aspect that has gained attention in recent decades not only in the traditional field of humanities, but also in science. The so-called positive psychology, is dedicated to studying the positive attitude from the scientific point of view, defining indicators and tests to measure and studying its effects on subjective well-being of the person; also provides techniques, many of them old acquaintances of humanity, now rediscovered. Positive Psychology try to strengthen all aspects of life that are related to the positive attitude.

For example have a circle of good and real friends is a factor that increases the positive attitude, and is especially recommended for those who have a problem of affection, because friendship is a form of love, and one of the best, without contraindications. Also is a positive factors do not push yourself too hard and have a good self-esteem. As mentioned in Friendship blessing of John O’Donohue:

May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.

May you never be isolated.
May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your soul friends. –
John O’Donohue –

How to get a positive firm life attitude: meditation

Another way to improve it is the transcendent way, which trains self-awareness so that the person learns to not pay attention to negative thoughts and emotions, related to negative attitudes, and instead focus the mind on the positive, through meditation techniques. Conscious relaxation methods are very suitable for people without experience in meditation who also have concentration problems due to stress situation.  

In the trascencendent way there is also work to be done, but not strengthening of some psychological factors, as in Positive Psychology, but rather is a liberation of the conscience of the individual from the yoke of their own negative thoughts:

Happiness can not be found
through great effort and willpower,
but is already present,
in open relaxation and letting go
– Lama Gendun Rinpoche

In a similar line of liberation, freedom from thoughts that bind us to a negative attitude, expressed Eckhart Tolle:

True salvation is a state of freedom ― from fear, from suffering, from a perceived state of lack and insufficiency and therefore from all wanting, needing, grasping, and clinging. It is freedom from compulsive thinking, from negativity, and above all from past and future as a psychological need. -Eckhart Tolle-.

Whatever the chosen way, it is our responsibility worked ourselves to become really fortunate, regardless of the circumstances.