6 Secrets to a Happier Life
I found this article on twitter and I believe it's a good share. We never really pay attention to the energies around us and how they can affect our happiness. Here are six ways to stay in a happy place and remember the important things in life: the things that we can control.
Peace, Love and Happiness
1. Bring your mind into the present
Bringing your mind back into the present can seem daunting. Let’s face it—it won’t be easy to undo a habit you’ve had for years. The first step is awareness.
When you notice that your mind is going toward future-oriented thoughts, you can choose not to follow the train of thought—instead, you can nudge your mind back into the present. Let’s say you are working at your desk, playing with your child or having dinner with your spouse, and you notice that your mind is somewhere else. Of course, this isn’t the first time your mind has wandered away from the present, but when you first consciously observe this pattern, it can be a little disturbing for you. You might have thoughts like “Wow, here I am with my loved ones and I can’t focus on them at all.” But this awareness is a key first step.
Try reorienting your attention fully on what is going on in front of you. This exercise is not easy at first, but, like working a muscle, you can strengthen your ability to stay present by repeating this exercise over and over again. Like learning a sport, it takes training. So this and the following five exercises, when done regularly, can help you be present more easily.
2. Take a technology fast
One of the greatest exercises in presence and joy is to spend a half-day or whole day on a technology fast, ideally in nature, without a schedule. That means no screen time. None. Let your mind rest and relax. Take aimless walks. Contemplate the sky. This may feel strange at first, and you may even start to be antsy or anxious because you are unaccustomed to not “doing” anything. It may even make you uncomfortable, but see if you can move past that state. It’s just a phase. The mind takes some time to settle down.
You can learn to relax your mind. The quality of your life and work depends on it.
Being ambitious and having goals is essential. To actually achieve those goals to the best of your ability, however, you need to try your best to remain present. Being present allows you to find fulfillment in the moment, in the task at hand—rather than in some distant future, after you have achieved everything and ticked every last task off your list.
When you slow down and focus 100% on the tasks you are working on or the people you are with, then everything becomes joyful, even the mundane. That joy in turn leads you to perform better, be more productive, become charismatic and build better relationships.
3. Try your best to be consciously present
Start with a 10-minute exercise. For example, if you have a PowerPoint presentation to prepare or are working on filing your taxes, experiences you dislike or want to get over with as fast as possible, see if you can give them your full attention instead. Use these otherwise tedious activities as great opportunities to train your attention. You may find that you even start to enjoy them. Notice when you get the itch to distract yourself by surfing the Web or checking your phone and practice focusing exclusively on the task at hand.
Outside of work, take time to watch the sunset, brush your pet or do your errands without texting, talking on the phone or occupying yourself with planning at the same time. The more you practice being present with your activities, the more being present becomes a habit. It’s not about how quickly you chop the vegetables or how soon you can get dinner put together. It’s about the act of chopping itself: Find pleasure in cutting the vegetables evenly, for example. Notice every detail.
4. Try meditation
Meditation can help you cultivate a state of calm and quiet in your mind, displacing the cycle of desire and anxiety that comes with chasing the future. Research shows that experienced meditators have less brain activity in areas related to mind wandering.
There are many forms of meditation. Find the one that is right for you. If you are not drawn to meditation as a way of calming down and centering yourself,
there are other activities, such as yoga, yoga-based breathing exercises, tai chior walking quietly in nature, that can help settle your thoughts. Find the activity that allows you to settle your mind, your thoughts, your emotions and your desires so that you become grounded in the present. And if you decide you do want to try a sitting meditation, don’t worry: You’re allowed to do it in a chair, or anywhere else you feel comfortable.
5. Focus on your breath
An age-old and effective practice for bringing the mind back into the present is to focus your attention on one thing, for example on your breath. When you find your mind wandering, take a deep breath in; as you breathe out, let go of your thoughts—as if you were consciously exhaling them—and bring your attention back to the present. You may have to do this exercise repeatedly, whenever you become caught up in a flurry of thoughts.
Another breathing exercise that research shows helps strengthen your attention is breath counting. Count each breath you take, and when you reach 10, start over. While this exercise may not sound very exciting, research shows that it increases your ability to pay attention and stay in the present moment.
6. Truly experience pleasure
Here’s a fun one. When you feel pleasure, close your eyes and be 100% present with that pleasure. Whether it is emotional (such as love) or sensual (food or touch or sound), savor the sensation or experience completely. Instead of reading while you eat, savor your food, for example. Research shows that learning to bask in your pleasurable experiences helps to extend the feeling. Not only will you enjoy pleasurable experiences all the more, you may have fewer cravings for more because your experiences are more satisfying.
From the book The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success, by Emma Seppälä, Ph.D. Copyright © 2016 by Emma Seppälä. Published by arrangement with HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.