Discover the Way to Happiness with Mindfulness
How can mindfulness lead to happiness? The Dalai Lama, often giggling or smiling with others, says: ‘I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness.’ That’s a huge statement. Imagine living as if your very purpose was to seek happiness.
A life where your decisions and choices were based on whether your wellbeing would be increased or decreased. What would your life be like? How would it be different? Is it even possible? If the sole purpose of life is to seek happiness, then you need to find the best way to greater wellbeing.
Whether happiness is the key purpose of life or not, happiness has scientifically proven benefits. Through achieving greater wellbeing, you can:
Do better in social relationships. You have more friends and get on better with them.
Use your intelligence more efficiently. No matter how smart you are, you use those brain cells well.
Be more optimistic. You see the bright side in most situations.
Live longer and more healthily. You have lower blood pressure and fight off diseases more effectively.
Be more creative. You’re capable of coming up with new and innovative ideas for home and work.
Explore your ideas about wellbeing for mindfulness
Some people describe themselves as extremely happy, whereas others claim to be unhappy. Happiness seems to be at different levels, from person to person, and from moment to moment.
Ask yourself the following question:
Considering everything, how would you say things are these days – would you say you’re very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?
If you rated yourself not too happy, don’t despair! You can begin using a whole range of well-researched approaches right away.
An interesting way of finding out your ideas about happiness is a technique called sentence completion. Complete the following sentences quickly with five or six different answers, without thinking too much.
The things that truly make me happy are…
To be 5 percent more mindful in my life, I need to…
To be 5 percent happier in my life I need to…
Keep your answers handy. Practice this exercise daily for a few weeks to see what kind of answers you get. You may need to act on them, or you may not. Just by becoming aware of your responses, you naturally begin to move towards becoming happier.
Challenge assumptions about happiness with mindfulness
The most common assumption about happiness is that pleasure equals happiness. By maximizing the number of positive feelings and minimizing the number of negative, a happy life is created. It turns out that this is a very small part of the picture.
Research shows that pleasure alone doesn’t lead to any greater sense of life satisfaction at all. So, although nothing’s wrong with luxurious hotels and enjoying your favorite food, they just result in a fleeting feel-good effect.
That money equals happiness is another popular belief. The relationship between happiness and money is really interesting because society gears itself towards acquiring more money and therefore hoping for more happiness. One experiment compared the happiness of big lottery winners to the happiness of people who had been in a serious accident and become paralyzed.
That’s a serious test – what a comparison! The results showed that after two years, the people who won the lottery went back to the happiness level they had been at before. The same happened with the paralyzed accident victims. Isn’t that amazing? Whether you become paralyzed or win the lottery, you end up with the same level of happiness in the long term.
Imagine that you were able to sell your happiness. Once you’d sold it, you’d never be happy again. Your happiness would be gone. How much would you sell your happiness for? That gets people thinking, but usually the answer is no. Think about that for a moment.
Selling happiness is an interesting idea because it really gets you to reflect on how much you value happiness. But you sell your happiness very easily in the short term. You sell your happiness when you can’t find a parking space, if your partner irritates you or a demanding manager is rude to you. It’s easy to forget how much your happiness is worth. Perhaps it’s priceless?