Of Addiction and Fixation: The Power of Mindfulness

Getting fixated on the past isn’t any better. An example of fixation would be holding grudges. Imagine the last time you hold a grudge over something or someone. Can you still pictured it in your head now as vividly as if it just happened? If you can, know that it was no longer the event itself that is hurting and, shall I say, haunting you. Instead, you are reliving the experience by focusing your attention on it and repeating the event in your head over and over again, which only serves to hurt yourself repeatedly, and this could continue long after the reason for the grudge is gone. Research has shown that holding grudges are both physically and psychologically taxing for us: we tend to perceive the world around us as more burdensome and unforgiving, and we do not perform as well as those who are free of grudges. Worse, getting fixated on the past means our attention is no longer in the present.

Let me tell you a story I have heard about the very real danger of losing sight on the here-and-n0w: A lady was just crossing a road that she had walked pass thousands of times, when suddenly a car sped past the red light and almost knocked her over. Naturally, the lady was shocked, but it quickly turned to rage. She started scolding the driver aloud while crossing the road, even when the driver was out of earshot. Little did she know that another car was speeding along the road, and this time the car did hit her with her head still turned towards the previous car. Now, I hope this was not a real life story, but I can definitely relate: it is only natural that we get angry and fixated over unjust brought upon us, even if it puts us under great danger.

When I realized how disruptive addiction and fixation could be, I looked back on the times when my life was less than ideal, and decided that freeing myself from these two unhealthy factors would be a good start towards building a better life. I started reading blogs about life hacks that may have offered their wisdom on this matter, and came across one post on ways to stay consistently happy. Being my ‘new year resolution’ (that is, to stay happy; it was pretty much the same, year-in and year-out 😉 ), the post intrigued me, and I found out one of the suggested ways is to practice the habit of disengagement. I have since tried to apply it to my life, but there’s a problem:  in order to disengage myself from the task at hand, I need to know that I am currently addicted or fixated on certain things. While my inner voice was pretty adept at reminding me of my current state, past experiences have taught me that I rarely pay attention to it or even outright ignore it when I am addicted to something. This is where mindfulness comes in.

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