I’m not exaggerating when I say these are 3 very simple ways to increase happiness. And I want to emphasise the SIMPLE part of this claim. In fact, and I also say this emphatically, the simplicity of the methods I want to explain here is surprising.
Likely, you already know these 3 exercises, and you should ponder why you haven’t made them part of your daily routine. No, really, you should think about why you refuse to use these effective tools for happiness, especially when they are readily available to you. More significant to that thinking, when you know they work.
Let’s get to it. I’ll do my best to watch my tone and refrain from insulting your lassitude, as tempting as it may be.
1 Mindfulness Meditation
This concept sometimes comes across as complicated because of how it sounds in your head, but it isn’t.
Mindfulness meditation can be complex as you progress in its practice, but it is also as easy as breathing. If you can breathe and count to ten, you are ready to start improving your happiness circumstances immediately.
There are three basic parts to mindfulness meditation: Discovering the breath, discovering the body, and discovering the mind.
The third part is the most difficult to master because it demands active practice and strenuous concentration. I recommend that you investigate parts two and three – I’ll only touch on part one here.
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To discover the breath sit comfortably is possible, but it’s easy to do anywhere. The idea is simple.
Take a deep breath and hold it for a few seconds before exhaling. Do this several times until you become aware of your breathing and how it affects the rest of your body. Feel every sensation that occurs as you breathe, hold, and exhale. Move from deep to short, shallow breaths and notice how that feels. Count your breaths as you take them, give them a number intentionally.
Keep your counts low as you begin this mindfulness exercise to avoid confusion and frustration. I recommend counts of eight to ten breaths at different times.
And that’s it! Obviously, as I mentioned before, the practice of meditation will increase in difficulty as you move through it. Still, this simple breathing exercise will help you focus on the moment and help you relax your body and mind.
A comfortable, restful mind will make better decisions, improving life satisfaction.
Realise, as you read the previous sentence, how this all relates to the spread of misinformation and the mechanisms surrounding it.
Science has good reason to believe that mindfulness meditation can help alleviate different mental and psychiatric conditions.
“Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a structured group program that employs mindfulness meditation to alleviate suffering associated with physical, psychosomatic and psychiatric disorders. The program, nonreligious and nonesoteric, is based upon a systematic procedure to develop enhanced awareness of moment-to-moment experience of perceptible mental processes. The approach assumes that greater awareness will provide more veridical perception, reduce negative affect and improve vitality and coping. In the last two decades, a number of research reports appeared that seem to support many of these claims. We performed a comprehensive review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished studies of health-related studies related to MBSR.”https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022399903005737
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2 Physical Exercise
I can go on for a long time about this point. The benefits of physical activity are evident. Invariably, people who follow a consistent exercise routine report higher levels of happiness and self-confidence.
As I said, I can go on about this, but respectful of your time and any potential excuse you may concoct as you read this, I’ll let my people in the lab explain it.
“Mental health disorders are major contributors to the global burden of disease and their inverse relationship with physical activity is widely accepted. However, research on the association between physical activity and positive mental health outcomes is limited. Happiness is an example of a positive construct of mental health that may be promoted by physical activity and could increase resilience to emotional perturbations. The aim of this study is to use a large multi-country dataset to assess the association of happiness with physical activity volume and its specificity to intensity and/or activity domain.”https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12889-015-1391-4
Regarding excuses, remember that physical exercise can start slowly and simply like with mindfulness. You do not need to join a gym or enter a bodybuilding competition – going for short walks will do at the beginning – only consistency is essential.
3 Be Grateful
A minor but critical caveat before I proceed is that gratefulness and gratitude are often conflated with complacency. This confusion is a significant cause of stress and lack of motivation for many humans, who are only excited to celebrate big wins.
Gratitude is about understanding that good things happen and that valuable resources are available to you.
Being grateful means that you choose to celebrate the little victories so you can build on them and grow.
Again, I’ll let my science people tell you how habitual focus on the positive aspects of life enhances well-being.
“This paper presents a new model of gratitude incorporating not only the gratitude that arises following help from others but also a habitual focusing on and appreciating the positive aspects of life”, incorporating not only the gratitude that arises following help from others, but also a habitual focusing on and appreciating the positive aspects of life. Research into individual differences in gratitude and well-being is reviewed, including gratitude and psychopathology, personality, relationships, health, subjective and eudemonic well-being, and humanistically orientated functioning. Gratitude is strongly related to well-being, however defined, and this link may be unique and causal. Interventions to clinically increase gratitude are critically reviewed, and concluded to be promising, although the positive psychology literature may have neglected current limitations, and a distinct research strategy is suggested. Finally, mechanisms whereby gratitude may relate to well-being are discussed, including schematic biases, coping, positive affect, and broaden-and-build principles. Gratitude is relevant to clinical psychology due to (a) strong explanatory power in understanding well-being, and (b) the potential of improving well-being through fostering gratitude with simple exercises.”https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272735810000450
There you have it, my mindful, physically active, and grateful apes. I can guarantee that these 3 very simple ways to improve happiness will work for you.
And that’s a money-back guarantee. Start now. Be happier.
— The Devil Unbound