Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy and Mindful

Finding happiness is as easy as thinking back to times in our life when we felt happy.  Search your memories, close your eyes and experience the happiness.  This is the practice known as mindfulness.  To be mindful of an experience we need to be present focused.  We attend to everything about the experience.  For example, think about sitting by the ocean on a summer day. Close your eyes.  Picture the ocean, the colors of green and blue, the white caps of the waves.  Hear the sounds of the waves coming in, the seagulls over head, far off voices, the laughter of children.  Smell the clean air, the scent of suntan lotion.  Feel the sun warming your skin, followed by the cool breeze from the water.  Taste the salty air on your lips.  This is the experience of mindfulness.

We can be mindful of pleasurable aspects of our daily life by reminding ourselves to stay present in the moment.  This creates happy memories to draw on.  Spend some time with babies or toddlers in play.  They experience life in the moment, not plagued by regrets about the past or anxieties about the future.  When we participate in a happy experience, fully participate, we are making a deposit in our emotional bank account.  We can then draw on this account when extra emotional resources are needed.  Practice mindfulness once a day.  We can do this with even simple tasks such as eating a meal or washing our hands.  Notice everything about the experience, the way it looks, feels, sounds, smells.  For more information read Mindfulness for Beginners  by Jon Kabat-Zinn.  Let me know of your experiences with mindfulness! 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Is there a secret to happiness?

Happiness, everyone wants it and it seems so elusive to many.  People who report they are happy only think about it when asked the question; Are you happy?  People who report they are unhappy think about it much more, sometimes weekly, sometimes daily. The unhappy are obsessed with happiness and the fact that they do not have it.  Here is the truth.  No one is happy all the time.
Unhappy people have the notion that others are happy all the time. They observe people around them and come to the conclusion that "everyone is happy but me."  When we see others in day to day activitites, we see only a moment in their life. Its like watching a movie trailer. Sometimes the trailer gives a good idea of the movie and how good it is and other times we can be fooled by the trailer. It can have us believe we must see this movie!  But the movie turns out to be a dud.  This is what it is like when we see others and conclude they are happier than us.
So the question is, "What are we to do to avoid the everyone is happy but me trap?"  Do this.  Focus on what is going right instead of what is going wrong.  Everyday we need to list at least three things that went right.  Some days it may be as basic as getting to work with no car problems or really enjoying lunch or dinner.  It is possible to find three things that went right in a 24 hour period. Try it and let me know what went right for you.