“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you” -- Lao Tzu
Our lives are more complex every day then 10 or 20 years ago, and it can feel like time is moving faster than ever. It used to be that as we age we feel time is shorter. I’ve had conversations with friends about how the year seems to be only 6 months long. Now it is felt by younger people as well.
We fill our days with so much stuff we think is bringing us happiness that it seems to shorten the time we have to get it all done and rather than make us feel better we increase our stress levels and that certainly isn’t making us happier. Our head is full of thoughts about the future, past and what we are going to do next. It can lead to negative thinking when we become overwhelmed with trying to do things we think are important.
We are buried in our technology checking emails, surfing the web for that next healthy recipe, fitness class or new piece of equipment to make our lives easy, and yet what we are really doing is adding more complexity. There is a lot of good stuff happening around us that we are missing because our minds are so busy figuring out our next step.
In a conversation with my daughter it became so clear the frenzy our lives can become when she said how hard it was to find five minutes to simply sit quietly and meditate. I watch her spinning around juggling her job, family meal planning, getting her son to sports and activities, and trying to find quality time with the family as a whole. It’s exhausting just listening to a day in her life!
Unfortunately this is not exclusive to my daughter. Far too many live this way and it is more important, now then ever; that we learn the value of taking time to be mindful of this and learn to slow down and breathe.
Are we happier because we are busier or would we be happier to have more time in our day to actually enjoy our family, friends, and the special moments that go unseen that could enhance our joy and happiness?
Mindfulness is an effective mental technique that supports the capacity to stay focussed on what you are doing as you are doing it, a powerful antidote to the information overload in our digital world. When practiced regularly, it can bring more calm into everyday life, reducing stress and enhancing our ability to feel more happiness.
Here are four ways mindfulness can make you happier:
1. Get out of negative thinking
So often what gets in the way of our happiness is the tendency of the mind to fall into unhelpful negative thinking. This can propel us into a downward spiral and affect our lives in many ways. Mindfulness meditation is a form of training the mind to become more familiar with noticing when our minds are getting caught up in these patterns of thought. Whether it's worry, planning the future, replaying events from the past, or caught up in self-judgment - when we develop the skill of mindfulness and bring this quality of awareness to our own mind, we open up a whole new possibility toward greater happiness.
2. Feel more connected to others
We are social beings constructed to be in relationships. From a very young age the healthy development of our brain requires interactions. Loneliness has now been suggested to be a risk factor for diseases ranging from cardiovascular disease to Alzheimer's. In order to flourish we need to feel connected to others. Mindfulness can deepen and enrich our relationships as we bring a quality of present moment attention to the people around us.
3. A sense of inner contentment
Many of us can get caught up in constantly needing stimulus from the outside world to give us a hit of happiness and pleasure. Whether it is money, relationships, approval, or success, this kind of happiness is dependent on external factors which are transient and over which we have no control. Mindfulness can help us cultivate a sense of inner wellbeing which allows us to feel content and well without needing to obtain anything from the outside world.
4. Enhance your gratitude.
The practice of mindfulness helps us to slow down even if just for a few moments and reconnect with what is happening from moment to moment. Slowing down enables us to notice more of what is present in our environment and within ourselves. As we notice more of what is happening around us and within us, wonder and gratitude can spontaneously emerge. Whether it's being more present to the tastes of a home-cooked meal, or connecting with something as simple and miraculous as the breath - mindfulness can infuse our lives with gratitude and enhance our appreciation of the ordinary things which can so often pass by unnoticed.
Are you ready to earn ways to build a happy lifestyle? Connect with Coach, Lee Pryke