International Day of Happiness. A day of recognizing how important happiness is to our personal and collective well-being. And to the goals and aspirations of people all around the world. However, in today’s busy life, many people feel like their missing that ‘spark’ of happiness. That particular something they had when they were children before adult life with its responsibilities kicked in.
However, we can control our happiness and practicing mindfulness is one way can help ourselves to feel happier.
Why Mindfulness is the Key to Happiness
Mindfulness gives us the capacity to be able to see the fluid nature of our experience, even in challenging times. Moreover, the ability to accept things as they are, live in harmony with them and seize opportunities as they arise, rather than resist and struggle.
Mindfulness also teaches us the importance of self-compassion and the deep-seated ability to be kinder to ourselves. We can cultivate a habit of being intentional about doing things that meet our needs. As that add to an overall sense of well-being, In this we way we begin to be in control of our happiness.
A great way forward is to develop a “happiness plan” that is integrated into your day-to-day life. Start by making a list of the things in life that make you happy. Then make a plan to make to do those things regularly. By setting intentions and goals around your happiness you committing to being happier. Obviously, it is essential to make these ‘bite-sized’ so you can achieve them. Here are three ways that have been shown to bring greater happiness to people. You can adapt them according to your personal preference
Incorporating simple pleasures like singing especially in a choir. Dancing, listening to music, reading or arts and crafts are greats ways to make you feel happier.Participating in these types of activities causes the release of endorphins. These feel-good chemicals provide almost immediate positive psychological effects, which can be calming yet energizing.
Doing things for others can also increase your happiness and sense of satisfaction.When we are kind the brain reacts positively. And like with the simple pleasures, we get chemical releases such as serotonin that can promote a positive mood. Also, dopamine rushes through the body, and the brain signals a particular type of happiness as a result. This is called a “helper’s high.” So finding ways to give back to others can promote happiness. It could be as simple as being present and listening to a colleague, friend or family member. A random act of kindness like making some whose looking stressed a coffee or tea. Alternatively, supporting your community by volunteering or working for a cause or organization.
Loving-kindness meditations can make us feel happier as well more loving and healthier. This type of meditation is based on interconnectedness. That deep down despite our differences we are connected. Loving Kindness Meditation also referred to as Metta meditation is the practice of cultivating goodwill, happiness, contentment, and peace towards others. It is done by silently repeating phrases that express kind wishes for ourselves first, then others.
Typically the sentences are a variation on May I be happy, may I be healthy. May I be safe (or free from danger), may I have a life of ease (or filled with peace). There are excellent references on how impactful this meditation practice including from Dan Harris “10% Happier”, Sharon Salzberg, Daniel Goleman and many more. I know from my own experience that practicing this meditation reframed my happiness. And impacted my self-compassion and care for others.
As Goleman explains: “We find, for example, that people who do this meditation who’ve just started doing it are kinder. They are more likely to help someone in need.They are more generous, and they are happier. It turns out that the brain areas that help us or that make us want to help someone that we care about also connect with the circuitry for feeling good. So it feels good to be kind. And all of that shows up very early in just a few hours really of total practice of loving-kindness or compassion meditation.”
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