Have you ever heard yourself say, “I just want to be happy?” If you have, you’re not alone as the majority of people have happiness as their primary goal in life. So if we want to experience more happiness, how do we go about it? We don’t become happier by trying to convince ourselves we’re happy, we have to actually practice it. The good news is that happiness can be learned and isn’t necessarily something we’re born with.
Did you know that meditation increases happiness? I didn’t really believe it until I experienced it for myself. I just began to notice that I was feeling more content and calm inside and then I noticed I was just feeling happier.
How does meditation work to make you happier?
Firstly, meditation trains your mind to focus more on the present moment so that you experience your life as you’re living it. Our minds have a nasty habit of spending more time either dwelling sadly on the past or worrying about the future. It’s amazing that most of us pay very little attention to what we’re actually doing and this robs us from being present for our life. It has been shown that people who focus their attention more on the present moment are more joyful and happier.
Secondly, a regular meditation practice will actually change your brain. People who meditate experience less anxiety, depression and reduced levels of stress. People become more compassionate and empathetic and experience more positive emotions. To think that a few years ago, we used to believe that at a certain age we couldn’t change our brain, and now there is an explosion of research proving that we can change the structure and function of our brain. All of these changes lead to boosting our feelings of connection and happiness.
Thirdly, meditation helps us to get in touch with our inner world and identify less with those external that we hope will bring us happiness. Happiness is definitely an inside job and is out of our grasp when we think we’ll find it out there somewhere. I wrote more about this in my post Where Do You Anchor Your Happiness? Through meditation, we can experience an inner peace that is less likely to be influenced by all the drama that is often going on around us.
I’ve been reading, The Healing Power of Meditation, and there’s a chapter called “Understanding the Mind and Meditation”, written by Sogyal Rinpoche, a world-renowned Buddhist teacher. He describes that our most important task in life is to understand and transform our mind. As I was reading this, it really resonated with me as an untamed mind causes us a lot of suffering, and deprives us of happiness. He goes on to say that there are two types of happiness. “One is based more on physical comfort or pleasure and is the happiness of the senses, whereas the other is founded on a deeper kind of mental contentment.The former can be very expensive and also turn out to be quite unsatisfying, whereas the latter will not only bring you complete satisfaction but also doesn’t cost a thing.”
What increases your happiness and where do you find it?