Mindfulness: Freeing yourself from unhappiness

Our thinking can be bad for our health. Constant thinking about an event or problem can take us into a downward spiral of negative memories, images and thinking patterns. This then often leads to a mood of unhappiness or even depression.


An alternative strategy for handling everyday problems and negative moods is through the cultivation of mindfulness. The authors of the book: The mindful way through depression, describes mindfulness as “…..the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally to things as they are” (p47). The key seems to be awareness. Instead of relying on critical thinking to lead us out of a negative or sad mood, we need to focus on an awareness of our thoughts and feelings. This is called the being mode of mind as opposed to the doing mode. By focussing on the awareness of the being mode we can learn to experience the world directly without the relentless commentary of our thoughts. We can learn to see our thoughts as mere thoughts that come and go in the mind, rather than absolute truths. Being more aware of ourselves and our thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations can help us focus our actions where they can make a difference in our lives.


The essence of mindfulness can be seen as follows:

  • Intentional and a choice that we can make
  • Experiential with a focus on present experiences, rather than the past or future
  • Non-judgemental and accepting things as they are without comparing them to an internal or external standard


When our thinking gets stuck and takes us into a downward spiral of negative memories, images and thinking patterns, mindfulness might be just the alternative mode of being that we need. With mindfulness we can explore our emotions in a non-judgemental and self-compassionate attitude that could open up new possibilities.



Wllliams, M., Teasdale, J., Segal, Z. & Kabat-Zinn, J. (2007). The mindful way through depression. The Guilford Press: New York, NY.