How to find happiness in the current moment [Podcast with Monique Rhodes] - PCOS Diva
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How to find happiness in the current moment [Podcast with Monique Rhodes]

“The more energy we put into a positive emotion, the bigger it grows.”

On today’s podcast, I talk with Monique Rhodes, she is a master at teaching you how to calm your mind and live a happier life. Mental wellness is so important for women with PCOS because such a large majority of us are suffering from anxiety, depression and mood-related disorders.

Monique has worked with some of the most well known spiritual teachers of our time like Dalai Lama, Thich Naht Hahn, Ekhart Tolle and Pema Chödrön. She is on a mission to help people who think they can’t meditate, she created The 10 Minute Mind meditation course which is used at over 70 universities and colleges.

In this podcast, Monique explains ways meditation can lead you to happiness and gives meditation tips for people who think they can’t meditate.

Listen in as we discuss:

  • The steps you can take right now to create a life of happiness
  • Why meditation is the answer to a lot of our problems
  • How to deal with negative emotions them as they come
  • Ways meditation can have a positive ripple effect in your life
  • How to get rid of limiting beliefs that no longer serve us

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Resources mentioned:

 

 

Monique is happiness strategist who teaches students and corporations around the world how to master their lives. She is a master at teaching you how to calm your mind, live a happier life and take a little walk on the wild side. Monique created a 10-minute daily online mindfulness meditation class for people who think they can’t meditate. It’s being used worldwide, including in over 70 colleges and universities. Monique has also worked along side with some of the most well known spiritual teachers of our time like Dalai Lama, Thich Naht Hahn, Ekhart Tolle and Pema Chödrön.

Transcript:

Amy Medling:

Today on the PCOS DIVA Podcast, we are going to be talking about happiness. Just to frame that, I wanted to share a little vignette story, I guess for most of my life, I thought that people were either unhappy or happy. And my family that I grew up with tended to be the unhappy ones. They blamed unhappiness on all external forces, bad luck, the economy, relationships. And I grew up with that idea that I would be happy when you name it. I had a new job, I got married, I had kids.

Happiness was always a moving target for me. And certainly when I got a PCOS diagnosis and was suffering with the myriad of symptoms, I was always going to be happy when my acne cleared up, I lost the weight, I regained my fertility, and I had this aha moment when I realized that instead of living in a cloud of negativity and terminally waiting for happiness to happen, I could choose to be happy in the moment I was no longer held hostage by my circumstances, and I no longer had to seek happiness in people or possessions.

So I wanted to invite somebody who knew more about seeking happiness than I did to talk to PCOS Divas because I, after working with so many women with PCOS, I know that I was not the only one that had this experience. So I’ve invited Monique Rhodes onto the PCOS Podcast. She’s a happiness strategist who teaches students and corporations around the world how to master their lives. She spent the last 25 years studying the mind and its relationship to happiness and suffering. She has designed a program that over 70 universities and colleges use, called The 10 Minute Mind It and her eight week online course. The Happiness Baseline has a 100% success rate in raising the mental wellness for every student who has completed it. And that’s so important. Mental wellness is so important for women with PCOS because such a large majority of us are suffering with anxiety and depression and mood related disorders. So Monique, thank you so much for saying yes to my invite to come on to the PCOS Diva Podcast.

Monique Rhodes:

It’s really wonderful to be here. Amy, thank you for having me. Thank you for the important work that you’re doing.

Amy Medling:

So tell us how you get into this work of being a happiness strategist.

Monique Rhodes:

I think we all get into particular niche things that we’re working on when we are desperate to figure it out for ourselves. And for me, Amy, that was my situation. You can probably tell from my accent that I grew up in the South Pacific, so I grew up in New Zealand, amazing, wonderful country with so many wonderful things about it. If you’ve ever been there, it’s extraordinary.

But unfortunately for me, I had some real difficulties in my childhood, and I think that probably by the age of around about 12, I think it would be fair to say that I was suffering from depression and I struggled. My mental health was all over the place. I would sometimes feel like I could wake up in the morning and have no idea the rollercoaster that I could potentially be going on in a day from being really happy and positive to and despair and struggling.

And it was all very out of control. And I saw myself over the years sink further and further into probably really a state of anxiety, not feeling safe in the world, and really quite depressed. And at the age of 19, things came to a head and I ended up in hospital having tried to take my own life. And I remember sitting in the hospital bed and really thinking to myself, “Why is it that I’m struggling so much? Why does nobody else seem to be struggling as much as me? And is it something to do with my genetics, my chemical makeup in my brain? Is there something wrong with me?” And so I wanted to see whether I could figure out if there was something that could shift what was going on for me. And I’m a pretty determined person, so I took this on as my mission to see if I could turn my life around.

And I did it for no other purpose, but for my own. I wanted to see if I could shift it because it was just becoming so difficult to be alive. And I traveled all over the world and for 13 years lived out of one bag as I looked at different ways of living, different cultures, different philosophies, and really faced myself. And fortunately for me, through all the work that I put in, I did find the answers that turned my life around to a place that I didn’t even know was possible. And so here I am, this is what I’ve ended up accidentally teaching.

Amy Medling:

What a journey, I mean, to be so young and to embark on that really an amazing adventure in a way to find that grail, I guess, of happiness. So what were some of your aha moments along the way?

Monique Rhodes:

Well, I loved what you read at the beginning, Amy, this idea of what I like to call as soon as happiness. As soon as I feel better, as soon as I meet the woman or man of my dreams, as soon as I get the raise, as soon as I have a baby, whatever it is, I’ll be happy. And I think that’s one of the mindsets that we live in, is that we’re in this,\… It’s almost a little bit like the hamster on the wheel, let’s say for argument’s sake. You think to yourself, “Oh, I’m really going for this job and when I’ve got this job, I’m going to be happy.” And you work really hard, you get the job and you feel great, you’re so excited. But very quickly, all the challenges of that new job start to rise. And suddenly the happiness is gone, and all of a sudden you are thinking about the next thing.

“Oh, well, now that I’ve got this job, I’ll buy a house and this will help me to feel good.” So this idea, Amy, very much is what you were talking about of this idea, how do we find a happiness that we can sustain rather than these peaks and troughs? And the peaks are great. There’s nothing wrong with the peaks, and we all have things that bring us joy and get us excited and it’s great. But when we become attached to those things, believing that they will bring us sustained happiness is where we get ourselves in trouble because we soon realize that that happiness isn’t actually sustained and we’re on a constant search for the next thing to give us that really good feeling.

Amy Medling:

And that’s exhausting.

Monique Rhodes:

Oh my goodness. Is it what? It is so exhausting. And we become so clever at the things that we acquire, whether they’re experiences or people or positions, we become very, very skilled at it because we desperately want to be happy. And the world teaches us, this is how you’re happy. You become rich, famous and Instagram star, powerful, beautiful, lose weight, All of these things will make you happy. And it’s very confronting when you work with people who have all of that. I work with some very, very famous celebrities who have all of it, and they’re unbelievably unhappy. And so we start to see that when we look at it and see, well, if this was the answer, then those people who have all of those particular things we are told will make us happy. Well, we start to see that a lot of them so that can’t be the answer.

Amy Medling:

So can you give us some hints as to what you have found the answer to be?

Monique Rhodes:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the very first thing that we have to understand is that we have a tendency to believe that happiness comes from outside of ourselves.

The biggest thing that I began to understand is that happiness is not something that is found outside of ourselves. So we are led to believe in this world that if we have all these things, we’ll be happy. But actually the biggest aha moment I had was when I began to understand that happiness is an inside job. I can have all the things in the world, but if my mind is out of control, then I will not be able to be happy. So I often think about it like this, Amy. It’s almost like our mind is a, imagine it’s a house. And imagine it’s a house with all the doors and the windows open. That’s how we treat our mind. We let everything in all of the hyper stimulating things we watch on TV, we watch on the internet, we let all sorts of opinions and people’s ideas constantly in, and we never protect it.

So we leave all the doors and windows open and we wonder why it’s completely filled with a whole bunch of problematic stuff. And so I think it’s really important for us to understand that we spend a lot of our life and a lot of our time taking care of our environment. So we take care of our home and we keep our office clean and we look after our bodies and we put beautiful food in our bodies. But when was the last time we cleaned out our mind? We don’t clean up at our minds. We just allow our minds to accumulate and accumulate so much information that we don’t even need. And we don’t care. We don’t take the care to ever really clean the mind out. So I feel our minds are exhausted and full of information that we don’t need, but also that creates a lot of stress and anxiety for us that’s a really great point. But how do we clean our minds out?

There’s one skill that I call my superpower. It was the greatest thing that I ever found. And it is the simple practice of meditation. Meditation is a complete game changer, but sometimes we start a meditation practice and we struggle to keep it going or we don’t really enjoy it. Or perhaps we are given slightly wrong advice about what a meditation practice is. But meditation is the answer to a lot of our problems. And I’ll explain to you one of the reasons why. The main reason of learning a meditation practice is to bring ourselves into the present moment, to learn how to be in the present moment. So if you think about where your mind dances off to most of the day, it’s going to thoughts of the past or thoughts of the future. And it’s very rarely sitting in the present moment. That’s so true.

And so what happens is that the mind becomes incredibly exhausted. So you think about these three places at dances, two thoughts of the past are imaginary, all right? And the reason that they’re imaginary is that your memories of the past go through the very particular biases and filters in your brain. So you see an event that has happened in a completely different way, often from the way that I would see it. So the memory can’t be relied on. It’s busy filtering out the information. And so thoughts of the past are make believe they’re just imaginary. And of course the future’s not come yet. So the thoughts of the future are equally as imaginary. The only thing that’s actually real is the present moment. And so when we, what we can learn in a meditation practice, if you are learning to bring yourself back to the present moment, which is what I hope you would be learning in meditation, is that most of the time we are not really here.

And it’s a big reason why our minds are so exhausted. So if we can learn in a meditation practice to anchor ourselves into the moment, that might be through focusing on the breath or listening to music or a chart or whatever. As long as we learn from a qualified teacher, that’s the most important thing. And we bring ourselves back to the present moment, Our mind wanders off, we bring it back, our mind wanders off, we bring it back. That’s it. And if we can learn to do that for even just 10 minutes a day, then we start to see that that skill is something that starts to seep out into the rest of our life and starts to calm and settle this out of control mind down, which is basically dancing all over the place.

Amy Medling:

It seems so simple, but yet it’s so hard to do. When do you do your meditation practice? Is it in the morning or in the evening? What works for you?

Monique Rhodes:

Yeah, so I first want to say one of the reasons I think that we find it hard is because we have a lot of expectation on it. And I think one of the expectations that we have on our meditation practice is I’m going to sit down and I’m not going to think anything. And when we sit down and our mind is racing around like a jet, we freak out and think, “I can’t do this. This is really hard. This is not fun.” But actually the practice is about exactly that. Our thoughts are as natural a part of our mind as the waves in the ocean. But what we do is we chase after them. So instead of just seeing them like the waves in the ocean that rise up and then dissolve again, maybe we’re sitting doing our meditation practice and a dog barks outside and instead of just hearing that sound, there’s a dog barking.

We go, “There’s a dog barking. Oh, is that the neighbor’s dog? Is the neighbor’s dog out? Hang on a second. Is he in my rubbish?” The mind just goes down a rabbit hole. So what we learn by bringing the mind back is that thoughts arise. They’re natural, and I can just let them be. And if I just let them be, they’ll dissolve. Emotions arise. They’re just natural. If I just let them be, they’ll dissolve. And so we then take the expectation off ourselves of having to sit there, Amy, with this thought of my mind is crazy. It is out of control. Great, perfect. That is the perfect mind to be working with. I love it that it’s out of control. That means that you’re getting somewhere. Because the more we sit and the quiet, the more all the thoughts that we spend our life distracting ourselves from, we’ll have a little bit of breathing room.

And if we allow them to breathe over time, they’ll settle. So I do my practice first thing in the morning because it’s when my mind is the calmest, and it gives me the ability to get as calmer practice as I can. But it also doesn’t matter if my mind’s not calm. And then it means that I’m able then to have my practice seep out into the rest of my day. And so that’s also where it’s powerful. I really encourage people to do 30 days of the course that I teach is called the 10 minute Mind is 10 minutes a day, 30 days. Try it for 30 days, see how you feel at the end of 30 days. Because one of the biggest motivators for anything for us is that when we see that it makes a difference. And at the end of 30 days, you will see a difference in yourself.

Amy Medling:

So when you describe the meditation practice seeping out into your life, can you describe that in more detail? What do you mean by what can you expect? What do you mean by seeping out?

Monique Rhodes:

Yeah. Yeah, great question. So let’s say you are in a conversation with somebody and usually in a conversation with someone, your mind is running all over the place. You might find that you’re actually more present in the conversation. You might find that you’re listening better. You might be writing an email. And instead of having your mind negotiate five different things at the one time, you just focus on writing the email, you might find that when someone says something to you that you might have got a little bit triggered by in the past, you might find that you don’t react as quickly. So those triggers that usually set us off where we don’t even realize they’re happening. And so that may so fast, it happens in a millisecond, a gap starts to appear, “Oh, there’s the stimulus.” Oh, my mother said that to me again.

And usually I would just go off at her, but I’m going to take a beat. I’m going to take a moment and I might still react the same way, but maybe the next time there’ll be even more of a gap and I’ll start to respond differently. So this is how it starts to show up in our life, and we start to either notice it in ourselves or someone else usually comments and says, “What are you up to? Well, you doing something different.” And that’s where a lot of my students will say, they don’t actually see the shift in themselves, but other people are seeing it. You feel more grounded, you feel more at ease. You feel more in control of yourself and your life. And the best part, Amy, is when you sit for, let’s say 10 minutes a day, you’re starting to get to know yourself in a way that we don’t get the opportunity anymore. Because anytime that we are sitting down and there’s nothing to do, we just pick up that phone and disappear out into somebody else’s world. So we’re quite disconnected from ourselves.

Amy Medling:

So I love that. And I’m going to try, I have had meditation practices in the past, but I’ve `let it go recently and I need to pick that up. So what I always find helpful is to create that 30 day mark. I think there’s something powerful about committing to something for an extended period of time. I mean, I’ve tried different yoga practices for an extended period of time, and that’s when I stick with it. Because I say to myself, “I’ll have to start over again at day one.” So that works for me. So I’m going to try that.

Monique Rhodes:

And also to have an accountability buddy, someone else who says, “I’m going to do this with you.” Or “two or three is even better.” And then maybe as you go through, you go, “Whoa, today my mind was all over the place and you just laugh about it. Oh, it’s so funny. Or today I thought I had it figured out.” And then the next day it’s like, “My mind is really busy again.” But you just encourage each other. “Oh yeah, remember we were told that’s what would happen. So don’t worry. Just keep going. Let’s get to that 30 day mark together.”

Amy Medling:

So I have a question for you. I find that a lot of myself included, and a lot of women that I coach, the two of the other obstacles thatstand in the way to happiness besides living in the moment or not living in the moment, is comparison, comparing yourselves to other women, especially with the advent of social media, it’s made that much harder to deal with. And then perfectionism, I’ve, I call myself a recovering perfectionist, and I think a lot of women with PCOS are type A perfectionists and that can really get in the way of creating happiness in your life. So just curious how to deal with those two things.

Monique Rhodes:

Yeah. So I know that this is a big problem and I think that one of the most important things is to… There’s a couple of things. First of all, there’s some work that I usually do with my clients where we look at the underlying beliefs, What’s going on? Where did you learn this perfectionism as a strategy? Where did you learn as a strategy that it was really important to compare yourself against other people? So that’s one of the first things is that there’s always an underlying belief there that’s been fed usually in childhood, that has created some panic that leads us as human beings to go, I need to keep a handle on this no matter what, because somehow my life is depending on it. So that’s the first area that I usually look at. But the second area is to really start a process of becoming friends with yourself.

To really look at what is going on with that critical voice in my head that is constantly telling me that I need to be more. And I think that’s really important because I have a course called How to Become Friends with Yourself. And one of the big things in there that’s a huge aha moment for a lot of people is where I talk about how that voice in our head, I don’t call it the critical voice, I call it the in parrot, because all it’s doing is parroting back what we believe about ourselves. So if we can look again at the underlying beliefs and see what is it that I believe about myself and why do I believe this and does this belief serve me anymore? Then we have the ability to start to get clear about why is it that I’m so harsh on myself?

Because it is a coping strategy. And it might be that when you are a child, when you achieved well at school, you’ve got a lot of positive reinforcement for it. And so you equate being loved with the positive reinforcement. So I call it the love contract, where it’s like, “I do this in return for love.” And it becomes a habit. And then all consciousness of where did this start completely dissolves. And all you’re left with is I compare myself to other people, and I’m a perfectionist with the comparison side. I mean, comparing ourselves to other people it’s very difficult. I understand not to do and is also completely pointless because we are unique individuals, completely different in every step that we’ve taken in the world. And so I often say to my clients when they’ll be talking to me about, “Well, I’m worried about what will people think?”

It can be a great question to say, “Who are these people?” Because often we find Amy that when we’re afraid of what other people will think, and we ask ourselves the question, “Who are these people?” There’s this big imaginary them that’s out there that we find it very hard to even qualify who those people are. Maybe we qualify one or two of them, but beyond that, no. And they’re so huge in our mind and they drive so much of our mind. So again, it’s this idea of bringing consciousness. It’s fine to be a perfectionist. Look at it. “Does this serve me? If it doesn’t, where is it coming from? How can I show up differently if I look at my belief systems about myself differently?” Because that’s all you are doing. I believe that the world is merely a mirror of everything that we believe about ourselves. So if you feel that you have to be a perfect, then underlying that is the fear of not being enough, and that’s where the work needs to be done.

Amy Medling:

I love this quote. It’s attributed to Abraham Lincoln. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but most people are as happy as they make their minds up to be. Would you say that’s true in your research?

Monique Rhodes:

I have mixed feelings about this. I think that what a comment like that can do is, or a quote that can lead us into believing, I’ve just got to toughen my mind up. I’ve just got to choose to be happy and I’ll be happy. And on some level, there is a truth to that, but it’s only a sixth of the puzzle. The rest of the puzzle is the understanding that our minds are habitual. So my mind is going to continue to do habitual things over things that are good for me. There was a study done in, I think it was the University of Charlottesville some years ago, and they put these rats into a maze, and if the rats came out of the maze on the right hand side, there was water there. And if they came out on the left hand side, there was chocolate milk.

So the rats learned very quickly to come out on the left hand side of this maze and get that chocolate milk. Then what the researchers did was they put a little bit of poison into the chocolate milk. So the rats would then come out, drink the chocolate milk and feel really unwell. And what they expected was the rats would go back to drinking the water. And the thing that really shocked them was that despite the fact that the rats knew that the chocolate milk wasn’t going to make them feel great, the habit of that good feeling, that initial good feeling overrode the knowledge that afterwards they would feel sick and they kept going and drinking the chocolate milk. And so this is where the work needs to be done on looking at where does my mind go to habitually? Because I can say to you, “Hey, Amy, stop being such a perfectionist.”

Equally as I could say to you, “Hey, Amy, just be happy.” But it’s not that simple because we’ve learned coping strategies that might give us short term enjoyment or satisfaction that actually end up giving us long term problems. And of course, on top of that, we live in a culture and a society where we are told that a whole bunch of things are really fine, that are really problematic for us.

And we wonder why we are living in a world of stress, anxiety, and depression stats going through the roof around this. So we can also see that a lot of things don’t work. I know that being on social media isn’t the greatest thing, but still people do it. I know that watching hours of TV isn’t a great thing, but still people do it. They know. So I think that we have to go a lot deeper and really look at working with the mind rather than overriding it with this idea that we can just choose to be happy. I don’t think we can. I think there’s work that has to be done. I tried to just choose to be happy. It didn’t really work for me. Does that make sense?

Amy Medling:

Yeah. It really does. And I think you get, because it’s difficult for a lot of us that are really stuck to feel like we can choose. But I can see how a meditation practice over time could really shift the way that you think about the world that makes a lot of sense to me.

Monique Rhodes:

Yeah. I think the biggest thing is I could say to you, “Hey, just choose to be happy.” But if I said that, what I really want to say to you is, “Hey, just choose to put some energy and time into working with your mind and you will become a lot happier.” That’s the way to choose to be happy, rather than, “Hey, just be happy.” Because I think, Amy, we live a lot in the world now where there’s a lot of pressure to be kind of really positive. And I think that that creates a burden as well, where everybody expects you to show up and be really happy and really positive about stuff. And you’re not really allowed to say that you might be struggling with something. People don’t want to hear it. And I see a real culture around this, and I think it’s really important to be positive.

I think that being grateful and positive for things in your life is, I know for myself is part of the strategy that I use. However, the other half of the strategy is that I don’t run away from my negative emotions. I deal with them, I look at them, I face them. And that’s another thing that meditation teaches us. It teaches us, “Okay, so I’m sitting for this 10 minutes, I’m doing this meditation and I’m overcome with grief or anger or frustration, and I sit with that anger, that grief, that frustration, whatever the negative emotion is.” And if I can learn to look at it in its purest form as an emotion, “Okay, I’ve got this anger in me, what does it look like?” Well, it’s red, it’s sitting in my stomach area. You start to observe the emotion that is so desperately wanting to breathe and you observe it without running down into the story of what it’s about.

Then you allow the emotion, the chance to be heard, to be nurtured, really to breathe. And then it begins to dissolve. And that’s one of the things that nobody ever teaches us. The more energy we put into a positive emotion, the bigger it grows. And if we equally put a lot of energy into a negative emotion, it begins to dissolve.

Amy Medling:

That’s tweetable right there.

Monique Rhodes:

So what we have a tendency to do is we have a tendency to think, “If I look at my negative emotions, they are going to grow and I’m going to end up in all trouble.” But it’s actually the opposite because whatever we resist persists. So if we have all these emotions in us and we don’t allow them to be allowed to express themselves inside us in whatever way that is, I don’t mean externally going and being angry with people, but if we don’t allow ourselves to feel them, they just sit there and wait until we do. And when does that happen? Oh, that happens when we’re in a conversation with our partner and our partner says something and all of a sudden we’re fully triggered because all of those similar situations where we never felt the emotion or come out on him, right?

So it’s really important that not only that we allow ourselves to feel those emotions, but that we start to see through our meditation practice that when they arise, just like our thoughts, if we just let them be and let them sit there and let them breathe, they will naturally dissolve of their own accord. And I don’t think anybody teaches us there.

Amy Medling:

I know I’ve had that experience over the last several years with grief. I think the grief of letting my now adult child go-

Monique Rhodes:

Right.

Amy Medling:

… off to college. The first one, he actually just graduated college and he moved halfway across the country to start his life. And I feel, I felt like, “Gosh, I should be more sad about this.” But I’m really not, because I dealt with those emotions when he graduated high school and moved on to college, I grieved for probably six months.I really felt those emotions and dealt with those and real it rather than stuffing them down with something else.

Monique Rhodes:

Yes, absolutely. Which is what we are conditioned to do as a society. Here is a subscription to TV shows on mass. So you don’t have to be with you. Here’s a phone that every time you feel an uncomfortable emotion, you can go in and just disappear often to another world. We are really being conditioned to not allow ourselves to have any experience of our negative emotions at all and it’s problematic. The World Health Organization said that before COVID that by 2030 the biggest health problem worldwide surpassing obesity would be depression. And when we think about it, what is depression? It is the depressing of our emotions. So it’s really vital that we as a society start to learn actually all over again from the start, how do I deal with my emotions? Because they’re not as big and scary as we think they are. They’re only big and scary when we suppress them.

Amy Medling:

That’s so interesting. This is not where I thought this conversation was going to go, but you’re absolutely right. I see that just in my recent, what has happened in my life is I graduate two boys, one from college, one from high school, that I can be happy in those moments and happy for them. And because I’ve already dealt with the sadness and let those emotions worked through those emotions earlier. So it’s just interesting way of how to come to that place of happiness.

Monique Rhodes:

Yes, absolutely. Because what we are led to believe by society is that positive emotions are good and negative emotions are problematic and to be hidden, but it’s actually completely different. It’s like we can’t see the light without the shadow. We all have negative emotions. Even the most enlightened person in the world has negative emotions. At the same time, if they are the most enlightened person in the world, they’ve learned that those emotions are is, “I’m looking out the window right now and I’m looking at all the clouds in the sky.” It’s like our truest nature is like that blue sky that sits above those clouds, never touched by the clouds. And the clouds just come and go but we take them so seriously. We take our emotional states. So seriously, if for anyone who’s listening, if you can think about, “If, think to yourself, What was I upset about a year ago this day, a year ago?”

You’ve got no idea. But if I said to you what we are upset about six months ago on this day, you would have no idea. What about a month ago? No idea. What about a week ago? No idea. In fact, probably if I said to you, “Can you remember at this time of the day yesterday what you were stressing about?” You probably don’t know, but in the moment it feels so big and so real. But it’s actually not. It’s just transient. And what we do is we attach onto these emotional states and instead of seeing them as clouds, we see them as concrete walls that we think that are so completely solid. But all through the day, your emotional states are changing. One minute you feel good, you feel hopeful, you feel positive. Maybe later in the day you feel a little bit tired, little bit frustrated.

The emotions are moving all the time. So it’s important for us to learn, which is also what we do through meditation, is that these emotions come and go. They’re passing. And if we just allow them to be, they will go. You know, you think about a situation where something happens. I’ll give a silly example. Let’s say I’m driving up the road and I’m at a roundabout and some guy in a… I don’t know, Land Rover cuts me off. And in that moment I get a fright. I might feel angry, I might feel freaked out. I might think, “Gosh, that was so close.” And then 90 seconds later, that emotion will be settled, all right? Unless I do the one thing that most of us do. So this 92nd life of this emotion is something you can read about in Jill Bolt Taylor’s work. Jill Bolt Taylor has a wonderful Ted talk called a Stroke of Insight, and she’s a neuroscientist and she said that emotions have a shelf life of 90 seconds.

Okay. So I have this experience, 90 seconds later, that emotion would be settled back down and dissolved. If I didn’t pick up the phone, call my partner, you would not believe what just happened to me. And as I’m running that experience through, in my mind telling my partner, what’s just happened, my body and my mind don’t know because my mind’s always creating stories up in its head. Don’t know that this isn’t actually happening again. And all the stress and anxiety fills my body in the same place it did when I first had the experience. Then I arrive at work, “Huh man, you wouldn’t believe my morning this guy cut me off at the roundabout.”

And so this is what we do. We have experiences that happen and then we end up reliving them over and over and over again, making them more and more solid. One of the most powerful practices that you can do is when things happen in your life, just let them go. Somebody does something. What does it feel like not to tell everybody about what happened? Somebody upset you this morning, just let it be and allow that emotion to have its 90 seconds of breathing room and then just let it go. Okay, it’s gone. But we don’t, we really focus on building things up so much bigger than they deserve to be built up.

Amy Medling:

That is a wonderful tip too. I mean, so many good insights into happiness on today’s podcast. Thank you so much, Monique.

Monique Rhodes:

Such my pleasure.

Amy Medling:

So tell us where we can learn more about your work.

Monique Rhodes:

Yeah, just come to my website, moniquerhodes.com. I do a daily podcast called In Your Right Mind Where I’m. Yeah, I started it at the beginning of the pandemic and it’s gone on and on so I love it. People ask questions or whatever’s happening at the time, and I just give a short podcast every day with some reflections. That’s a great place. If you want to start a meditation practice, you can come and try The 10 Minute Mind for 10 days for free. Come and try it, see how you find it. Yeah, it’s powerful and I’m always super involved. So if you’re struggling with any part of it, you can just write to my team and they’ll pass it on to me and I’ll personally get back in touch with you.

Amy Medling:

Well, I am going to try it. That’s least one of my to-dos this summer is to try your course. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to come in chat with us today.

Monique Rhodes:

Thanks for having me, Amy.

Amy Medling:

And thank you to everyone who is listening. I look forward to being with you again very soon. Bye-bye.

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