“We need to find a counterweight to prevalent negativity by deliberately choosing to focus on what is good and pleasurable. As a beautiful aria by Handel advises: Lascia la spina, cogli la rosa, 'Leave behind the thorns; gather the roses.' This is not to deny that thorns exist and that precautions must be taken to avoid being hurt by them. It is, rather, a reasonable refusal to be defined by negativity or to revel in victimhood. Far from being a foolish optimism, it is simply the recognition that human life has both negative and positive features. Neither good times nor bad times are permanent; all things are passing. At this moment, only the present is real. We can choose whether we focus on what is delightful or allow ourselves to be swamped by gloom.

“There are collateral benefits to such a practice. For example, if we make the effort to be mindful of the food we are eating, we will find that our pleasure is increased. If, instead of gulping down our food and then reaching for more, we allow ourselves to savor each mouthful and consciously appreciate the complex interplay of taste and textures, we will find that eating becomes a more enjoyable experience. The psychological needs that, in addition to our physical hunger, prompt us to eat will be more fully assuaged, with the result that we will not be inclined to overeat. Believe it or not, really enjoying our food, mindful eating, is an important factor in any attempt at weight loss. Expanding this thesis, we could perhaps advance the suggestion that living more mindfully will prevent us from unknowingly falling into the clutches of any form of addictive behavior.

“Mindfulness is not the same as total knowledge and comprehension. To accept reality often involves accepting its utter mystery. We do not always understand why particular things happen, no more than we understand why the universe exists. We can accept reality without understanding it. There is folly in rejecting anything that is beyond our capacity to understand.”