Are you looking for Happiness?
If you are looking for happiness Mindfulness can help. New techniques in scanning mean that we are able to see the parts of the brain associated with positive emotions such as happiness, empathy and compassion. Research shows that these areas become stronger and more active in people who meditate. You don’t need to spend years meditating to benefit. Committing yourself to a daily practice over an eight week period is sufficient to see the positive changes.
For many years it was assumed that we all have an emotional thermostat which determines how happy we are in life. We all know people who are upbeat no matter what life throws at them and others who behave more like Eeyore, the morose donkey in AA Millen’s Winnie the Pooh. Although major life events like a lottery win or the loss of a job, can significantly effect mood for weeks or even months, it was always assumed that there is a set point to which we always return. Bad news for the Eeyores amongst us.
What is standing between you and happiness?
Often unhappiness stems from a discord between the way we want our lives to be or the way we thing we should be and the way things actually are. Many people feel that they would be happy if they just had more money, if they were thinner or more beautiful…We find ourselves judging and comparing the “real ” world with the world as we would like it to be in our thoughts and dreams. This draws our attention to the gap between the two and we can end up with a toxic tunnel vision that only perfection will do. Sometimes it can be our own thoughts and expectations that prevent us from being happy.
How lucky we are.
My youngest son (age 5years) recently did a project at school which involved making footballs out of rubbish, such as news papers and string. The class were shown a video about children living in the poorest paces in the world, using rubbish to make toys for themselves and playing football with a make shift ball. I asked my son on the way home what he had learned and he dutifully explained. On asking him if he realised how lucky he was, he replied, “Well I’m not that lucky mummy, some children have a private jet!” Sadly I think he had missed the point of the project. His answer, however illustrates my previous point beautifully.
How can Mindfulness help me?
Mindfulness invites you to temporarily suspend judgment and briefly stand aside to watch as the world unfolds. Observing and accepting the way things are in the present moment does not mean rolling over and giving up. It can stop expectations seizing control of your life and blighting your mood.