Wellness is more than being free from illness. While the absence of illness is one part of being healthy, it doesn’t indicate whether we are in a state of well-being. Being in a state of well-being means we are feeling satisfied with our lives as a whole. It means we are living our life according to our values and engaging in meaningful activities.
In order to feel a greater sense of satisfaction, it is essential that we take positive, proactive steps on a daily basis. Our moment by moment choices determine to a large extent our happiness or unhappiness. They give us a sense of thriving rather than just surviving.
One of the first steps we can take to generate a greater sense of well-being and happiness is to question our stressful thoughts. What matters to our well-being is not which thoughts arise but how we respond to them. If we can learn to respond skillfully, we are much more likely to keep a stressful thought from turning into a full-blown stressful story.
Trying to control the thoughts that arise in our mind is a losing battle, but we can develop the skill of questioning them. We can learn to witness our thoughts without identifying with them – without believing they are absolutely true. We can recognize that most of our thoughts are programs in our mind based on our beliefs. These programs are running on autopilot until we become more aware and question them.
As we practice inquiring into our stressful thoughts, we begin to confront our problems more rationally and calmly. We often find that we are making ourselves anxious for no real reason. We may discover that the situation we are calling terrible may in reality be unfortunate, but bearable. We may even find positives in the so-called problem.
The key is to practice the habit of questioning until it becomes automatic. With practice, we will begin to notice that we are becoming an unbiased observer instead of reacting to everything we think. This liberation allows us a greater sense of well-being and happiness.