How Mindfulness Leads To Happiness
Whilst different things make different people happy, ‘happiness’ is a state that all human beings desire to achieve.
In psychology, happiness is made up of three components: pleasure, meaning and engagement. Psychologists have created a scientific term for happiness called “subjective-well being (SWB)” based on these three aspects. SWB is defined as “a person’s cognitive and affective evaluations of his or her life.” Basically, SWB, or happiness, is the greater presence of positive evaluations over negative ones. Buddhists and other highly influential leaders all share the same philosophy.
A study found that roughly 50 percent of our happiness is determined by our genes, 40 percent by our daily activities and 10 percent by our circumstances – meaning you have the power to choose how you affect that 40 percent.
Happiness is a state of being
Whilst different things make different people happy, ‘happiness’ is a state that all human beings desire to achieve. To sum it up, happiness, is the greater presence of positive emotions over negative ones.
Where do we go wrong?
The first thing to understand is that there is no finish line when it comes to happiness. How many of you have thoughts like “I’ll be happy when I get that promotion” or “I’ll be happy once I go on that holiday”?
Happiness is not found at the finish line
It’s a state of being that changes over time based on what we’re going through and how we decide to evaluate and perceive what is going on in our lives.
You may be familiar with the term “subjective-well being”, happiness is really just that – subjective. It’s how we choose to interpret and react to what’s happening. Are you going to turn a less-than ideal situation into an opportunity OR a negative outcome? You get to make the call.
But let’s remember that happiness isn’t about feeling great all the time.
It’s about letting yourself feel what you need to feel, and learning how to react positively and cope in those moments of hardship.
So how can mindfulness change your happiness?
Did you know that our brains are genetically hardwired to be more sensitive towards negative experiences than positive ones? It’s called “negativity bias” and it basically means that anything unpleasant will have a far greater impact on you and how you feel.
This is where mindfulness comes in. Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness can effectively rewire your brain by shifting brain activity from the front right area (the area of the brain responsible for generating negative feelings like depression and anxiety) to the left side of the brain, which has been found to correlate with feelings of happiness, excitement, joy and alertness.
Plus, studies have shown that meditation shrinks the portion of your brain called the “amygdala” and decreases cortisol levels. The amygdala controls anxiety and fearlessness and cortisol is the hormone that’s responsible for stress. So a smaller amygdala and lower cortisol levels means less anxiety and stress.
How can you start living a more mindful life?
1. Try a meditation class
Being mindful is all about paying attention to your experiences and trying your best to live in the moment. It helps you digest your positive and negative experiences and let go of those that no longer serve you.
If you find meditating hard, try Mirosuna’s sound meditation which brings a whole new dimension to your practice, also making it easier.
2. Take a digital detox
We know this can be hard with work, friends, kids and well, life. But technology distracts us from stopping and noticing the things around us. Set some rules for yourself. When you’re not at work, silence your phone and perhaps put it in a draw to stop the temptation of mindless social media scrolls.
Think of those days on end where you are constantly around people, set some time where you can be alone – take a break and be away from people and technology.
3. Teach yourself to live in the present
Take time out of your day to just be in the present. Try not to think about your weekend plans, your next holiday, or your next work presentation. Instead, sit and notice what you can touch, hear, smell and even taste.
4. Relax with exercise
Whatever your exercise of choice may be (a walk in the park or an intense cardio workout at the gym), take the time out of your day to exercise. It’s a great way to relax your mind and lift your mood.