How practicing Mindfulness can increase happiness and help you to find moments of joy in the everyday.
What makes you happy? That's a big question I know, and it is often met with 'mmhh' and 'not sure' when I put it to clients is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions. Ultimately we need to be aware of what brings us joy and how we can access it in our day-to-day life to nourish our total happiness.
Living vs Doing
If we take a look at the average day, most of us would agree that we tend to spend a lot of time operating in something called automatic pilot mode. We’re busy doing, going from one things to the next, making plans and thinking about the future.
When we are operating like this we are so busy doing that we can miss, simply, living. Rushing to the next thing rather than paying attention to the present moment, and in doing that we don’t actually experience our lives.
Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now says, “Most people treat the present moment as if it were an obstacle that they need to overcome. Since the present moment is Life itself, it is an insane way to live.”
Simply put, if we aren't aware of the present moment and what it holds, we are missing out, and that means that we could be missing out on goodness knows how many moments of joy.
How often do we treat ourselves to a favourite cake or takeaway only to gobble it down whilst talking or watching tv and realise at the end of it that we didn’t actually taste the flavours at all and it's finished? Or perhaps taking the dog for a walk only to be glued to the phone replying to emails, texts or even distracted thinking about the next thing.
Our days are made up of many seemingly mundane events, e.g. driving, eating, cooking, washing etc., yet these are what our days are made of, so surely there must be some way to bring some joy to these activities so we can increase our happiness now.
Mindfulness as a tool for happiness
Practicing mindfulness is the fastest (and proven) way to live our lives more fully, cultivating happiness and joy. The actual practice of mindfulness involves increasing moment to moment awareness of what is happening now, both internally and externally. Internally we become more aware of our body and our mind, while externally we begin to broaden our field of awareness so that we actually take in the external environment that we're in, eg. sounds around us, sun on our skin, smell of flowers or taste of our morning tea etc., leading to a sense of awareness, gratitude and pleasantness .
Give it a go
I challenge you to select two routine activities today and try approaching them with mindful awareness. Giving them your undivided attention as if it were the first time you are walking the dog, folding the laundry, washing your hair or even biting into an apple. Engaging all of your senses and paying attention to your experience right now and how you feel. You may just be surprised at your discoveries and perhaps exactly what does bring you joy.