5 Ways to be More Mindful and Happy
How can being more mindful 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 (one way of pracitising mindfulness) 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.
5 Ways to live a mindful life
1. Incorporate active or seated meditations into your week
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.
However a lot of people think clearing your mind and meditating is something you can only do when you have your eyes shut, cross legged and by yourself. However when I asked a monk at the monastery how many hours does he meditate for, he told me, “every single minute”. That is because active meditations are the best non-publicised kind of meditation! (To me anyway!)
Active meditations are when you do one activity wholeheartedly while trying to tune out all external noise and thoughts. During my pilgrimage to the Truc Lam Monastery in 2019, I did 3 hours of gardening every morning and that became my daily meditation – thinking about nothing but sweeping up each and every leaf the gazillion trees would drop overnight with my ultra short Asian broom stick!
“Cleaning the house is cleaning the mind” my Buddhist friend said to me
The main objective of every meditation class I write, is to teach you how to meditate and practise mindfulness easier. I invite you to try a Mirosuna’s sound meditation, they can bring a whole new dimension to your practice. I teach you how to do it yourself and give you the tools to practise in your daily life.
2. Take a digital detox
When I was training with the nuns in the Truc Lam Monastery, I loved not having access to my mobile. It allowed me to focus on what was happening in my world (my inner world) rather than the world’s and other peoples issues. My days at the monastery allowed me to purely focus on myself which ultimately led me to many important realisations.
It is impossible to escape technology for most of our day however it is good to be mindful that technology distracts us from stopping and noticing the things around us. Set some rules for yourself.
Choose an activity during the day where you are going to be totally present for. Silence your phone and perhaps put it away to stop the temptation of mindless social media scrolls and keeping up with the Joneses.
3. Teach yourself to live in the present
Everyone always says live in the present and it can be such a cliche but WHY do we actually need to do this?
You can live in the present, the past or the future. Lets explore these.
You can live in the past but most the time when people do this, they are living with the bad things that have happened. The good times go down as good memories. The bad times continue to dictate how we feel and act. The issue is, we legitimately cannot change the past and therefore are forced to move on. We can either continue to live with anger, frustration, pain and regret or we can find peace and be a better version of ourselves with the lesson we learnt. At the end of the day, this IS the choice we have to make.
You can live in the future. I did this for SOOOOO long as a part of my life, always basing my decisions today based on my end goal. I gave up opportunities and made the self destructive moves today based on what I thought was going to happen in 6 months. I lived today as if ‘my thing’ was about to happen tomorrow.
Guess what? It never happened when I thought it would.
I wasted so much time putting my life on hold!!
When I ended up feeling so stuck and unhappy, I had a big realisation, woke up and finally understood the real definition of living life in the present.
4. Relax with exercise or your favourite activity
It is crazy how much we work these days. We work so much that a lot of us can’t remember the last time we did the thing that we love most. For you this could be gardening, cooking, fishing, playing golf, doing weights, going to the markets, studying a course and so forth.
See yourself like a glass jar. The more jelly beans in it, the happier you are. The issue is with the normal course of life, we and others take jelly beans out of our jar. Things happen that make us unhappy and before we know it, we feel depleted and the glass jar is empty.
If you don’t actively put your favourite activities back into your schedule, you cannot keep refilling your jar.
So how full is your jelly bean jar today?
5. Shed to grow
I am a firm believer that to grow, you need to shed. All of the biggest leaps and bounds that I’ve made in my journey of self development have all required a mass exodus of either what I thought I knew, my beliefs, the people that I called friends or what I was doing in my life.
Good questions to ask yourself here are:
YOUR ROAD AHEAD
I truly hope you enjoyed learning more about my 5 ways to live a more mindful and happy life. These are practices that I have personally adopted in my life. They have led me to powerful realisations that have ultimately helped me shape and live the life that I desire today.
I can promise you that if you create space for change in your life, you WILL find so many unexpected and great things along the way.
You will discover your true self as you start to shed all the parts of your persona that aren’t you. All the problems, behaviours, thinking and beliefs that just aren’t yours and distract you from the REAL YOU.
I welcome you to the Mirosuna community where my purpose is to help you on your journey as I am on mine.
Founder of Mirosuna