Happy international day of happiness! With everything that is going on in the world, we can all use a day like this one: to focus on what brings us joy and other positive feelings.
Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to increase positive feelings. As a mindfulness coach, I notice many of my students feel happier, more accepting and more grateful after practicing mindfulness regularly.
Mindfulness has 3 main components.
Firstly, it is all about bringing in awareness to the present moment: to your feelings, emotions, thoughts, sensations, surroundings,… noticing whatever is going on inside and around you. We train our minds to do this by simply exercises and practices such as mindfulness meditation, grounding practices through our 5 senses and more.
Next, we have a certain attitude of openness, curiosity and non-judgement. Allowing whatever is, to be. To be curious on how you are thinking or feeling and allow it to be there, giving yourself compassion.
This is the part of taking in the observer seat. I always say: instead of serving our thoughts or reality, we observe them. This is all about non-identification. When we observe it, we are that which is aware of them. That means we are not our thoughts or emotions but that which is aware of them. And this is where the magic begins. Because then, you can make conscious choices to what you’ll do next.
And then we come to the third component; acceptance. Not fight or resist whatever happens (often negative feelings) but instead allow it to be there. Not making yourself feel bad for feeling this way and not criticizing yourself but rather showing yourself compassion.
Mindfulness is also about compassion. There are 3 aspects to compassion: 1. Knowing you are not alone. 2. Knowing whatever you are experiencing is temporary. And 3., non-identification; knowing you are not your thoughts and feelings but rather the one observing them.
So how can mindfulness improve our levels of happiness?
First of all, when you apply the three components of awareness, attitude and acceptance, you will find that you will be kinder to yourself and others . You will have less stress. You will be a better decision maker. You will be more openminded and accepting of what is happening which allows you to not het caught up in a fast automatic response (sympathetic nervous system) but rather come from a place of rest and your own conscious awareness (parasympathetic nervous system). You will not judge yourself or beat yourself up for feeling a certain way, but you will learn to accept it and show yourself grace with the 3 aspects of compassion.
These benefits are all scientifically proven. Mindfulness has been around for thousand of years. Isn’t it amazing how powerful we are?
You will also notice by bringing in your attention into this present moment, that most of your worries and anxiety float away. They stem from either comparing your situation to the past and being sad over what’s already gone, or worrying about the future and trying to control the outcome of things.
That is why mindfulness has helped me deal with my anxiety so much. When we are present into this moment, we automatically unlock joy and gratitude for that which we have. We snap back from the automatic pilot we are in most of the timed and come back to this moment and to ourselves. When we realize we have a choice: get caught up in our thoughts or watch them pass by, we can take action as we please. Same thing for mindfulness at the workplace, relationships, eating habits/disorder, … the key is to be present. That creates a space in which we have control to act.
Many studies have shown the act of being present / practicing mindfulness increases levels of joy, gratitude, happiness and acceptance of things because of this mindful approach of non-judgement, compassion and curiosity.
Psychology today recently posted a new study in which participants were taught the first part of mindfulness which is called monitoring: the awareness + attitude, simply noticing what is going on and taking in the seat of the observer, non-judgemental, and another group added the acceptance part: accepting what is going on.
This is what they concluded:
Results showed that while all the active mindfulness interventions (monitoring only and monitoring + acceptance) reduced negative feelings equally from before to after the study, they differed in their effects on positive feelings. For improving positive feelings, the monitoring + acceptance group had a significantly stronger effect, compared to monitoring only and control conditions.Psychologytoday.com
These results mean that practicing mindfulness may make us happier only if we learn to tolerate, make space for, and accept whatever experiences arise, rather than judging them, letting them define us, or running away from them. Perhaps acceptance leads to a mindset shift in which we can let go and be ok with things as they are, rather than focusing on what we don’t have, what we should have done, or what might happen in the future. Letting go of trying to control everything can make space for you to take a breath and feel the joy of the present moment, whether it’s walking your dog, hugging your child, having lunch with a friend, or doing interesting work.Psychologytoday.com
Mindfulness is more than practicing it regularly: mindful living is all about having this open approach to life and be mindful of even your daily chores like showering or cooking or eating. It’s about not running away or beating yourself up for feeling a certain way, too. When you’re in the present moment, it’s a peaceful feeling and you give your mind and body the chance to slow down and actually live your life, that is after all happening right now.
If you’re keen on learning more about mindfulness, download my free e-book, A Guide to Mindful Living, here!
If you want to get started with mindfulness and jump into my 10-day mindfulness course which features all the ways you can bring in mindfulness into your life and start meditating, practice gratitude, shift your mindset, practice more self-love, create healthy habits and so much more: join Flow, my signature mindfulness and self growth course, here. It’s currently 50% off so don’t miss this limited lower price!