The very important difference between a feeling and a state of mind

Feelings are temporary. They change and morph both gradually and quickly, often without us even realizing it. States of mind, however, are much longer-lasting and pervasive. You could consider a state of mind to be another kind of feeling, but there is a very important difference.

Some examples of feelings versus states of mind:

  • Joy versus contentment.
  • Anger versus resentment.
  • Sadness versus depression.
  • Love versus being in love.
  • Envy versus jealousy.
  • Delight versus appreciation.
  • Embarrassment versus shame.
  • Sureness versus faith.
  • Annoyance versus exasperation.
  • Urgency versus desperation.
  • Acceptance versus resignation.
  • Disgust versus hatred.
  • Relaxation versus peace of mind.
  • Hope versus optimism.
  • Desire versus longing.
  • Fear versus paranoia.

Feelings are part of life, both good and bad. They happen whether you like it or not, and you have very little control over them. States of mind are very different. They shape your longer-term outlook about what you are [and aren't] supposed to do. The secret is that, while you don’t have much control over the feelings you have, you do have the ability to shape your state of mind.

The negative feelings will happen; in fact, as feelings, they are beneficial to experience–because they pass and you often learn something from them or gain a sense of perspective. But when negative feelings like anger and sadness turn into states of mind like resentment and depression, you’re in trouble.

A lot of the time, you can see when when the transition from feeling to state of mind happens. If you become angry, for example, and then for days afterward, you anger is provoked much more easily than usual… that anger is becoming a lingering state of mind–a generalized resentment. Folks who suffer from this resentful state of mind [and there are quite a few out there] are the kind of people who act as though they want everybody else to have as bad a day as they are having. Their state of mind heavily influences all their interactions, and they respond to others from a place of resentment.

Some states of mind can be very good for a while. Appreciation, for example, is a very positive state of mind to have. Contentment is equally positive. Remember, these states of mind influence what you project to others… so a good state of mind is an awesome way to tap into positive energy. But even positive states of mind are good to change once in a while. You don’t want to project appreciation when someone has just had something horrible happen to them, for example.

The more you get to know yourself, the more you’ll know when it’s time to change your state of mind. So… the the $50 zillion question is, how do you change your state of mind?

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12 Responses to The very important difference between a feeling and a state of mind

  1. Lestat138 says:

    The Answer is to WANT to feel something different and then to take action, change your focus!!!

    Energy flows where attention goes!!!

  2. That’s one way, definitely. I notice, though, that there are tools that some people use and others do not when a state of mind feels inescapable. Yesterday, I was lonely, and I had real tools at had to use to get myself out of there and into a different state of mind that I have not always known are available. This post will explain better what I mean. :-)

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  5. Mike Lewis says:

    Happiness versus satisfaction.

    • Good one! I wanted to use happiness, but decided on the word “joy” for the first of that little series because I felt it sounded more like an immediate “hit of the moment” feeling and got across the contrast better.

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