“Make yourself a priority once in a while. It's not selfish.” - Karen A. Baquiran
Everyone looks for happiness...through pleasure, discovery, altruism...but all in somewhat different ways. I believe that we each have our way of being happy, one for each human being. But even though we are all different, happiness seems to build itself in the same way. Here’s my take on how we can each build our happiness.
“The trouble is, you think you have time.” - Gautama Buddha
Our body is not permanent. It changes every day, grows older and older, until it reaches its end of life. Some say our souls lasts forever, but our bodies clearly don’t, and there is no way to keep that from happening. Everything is meant to change and our bodies are the same. We are born to live, grow older, die, then become the basis for other lives to grow on...and in that way we live in a cycle of birth and death...the two being inseparable. The realization of our own death is really the best way for us to feel alive, seek happiness and therefore make the efforts to be more happy.
“Expect nothing and appreciate everything.” - Unknown
As we understand that our time is limited on this planet, we try to make the best of it. Happiness lies in the appreciation of whatever is happening to us, to keep an open mind and stay curious in every moment. Really, happiness requires effort, in the sense that we need to try to appreciate more things that we considered boring, painful, or repetitive. I see very often quotes that say something like “try to appreciate what you have more”...but really this is difficult. Appreciation means that we have to fight our first response of aversion, the non-interest or non-wanting of what is happening right now. So again, happiness requires effort and can be practiced.
“The only comfort within chaos is admitting you have no control.” - Amy Lee
Our lives are not really ours...we don’t control as many things as we think we do. When a depressed person has over and over negative thoughts, he doesn’t really control it. But by trying to avoid events, to change the course of our life, it makes it more difficult for us to appreciate them and let things move at their own rhythm. To be more happy, we have to learn to let go of the impulse to control what is happening to us and others around us. When that impulse to control is present, we enjoy less what is, for we try to change it the way we would like it to be. It clearly shows that we don’t enjoy what is there, right now, until we let go of the idea that we should change it.
“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” - Omar Khayyam
There is no control when we look at the present moment, there is instead the necessity to let go of it, so we can observe non-judgmentally what is happening to us, as it unfolds with each moment. When we stop focusing on what has happened in the past and is yet to happen in the future, we can focus on the present moment. It’s as we stay more and more in the present that we start to appreciate the life we are living. How can we live happily if we are stuck in our thinking? Yes our thoughts are important as they impact our happiness quite a lot, but they should be used with moderation. Thoughts exist in our minds, but in no way are they a good picture of what is happening, they are very limited and not as accurate as you would believe. Instead, we must make an effort to focus on the present moment, and like anything in life...it can be practiced and improved.
“Happiness is a thing to be practiced, like the violin.” - John Lubbock
Now that we’ve gone over what can help us build more happiness, let’s look at concrete things we can do to build our happiness. It’s in the present that we can appreciate our lives, all the gifts that are given to us over and over. But for that to happen, we need to practice what is known as “mindfulness”, our ability to pay attention to the present moment on purpose without judging it.
Nothing is more simple than this practice, all you have to do is sit quietly and feel the different parts of your body from top to bottom. You feel your head, face, throat, chest, left arm, right arm, back, stomach, hips, left leg, and finally right leg. Take 10 minutes to do this exercise thoroughly and it will help you to be more mindful of your body at any given time.
Sit comfortably in a quiet space, put a timer of 10 minutes on your phone and do the following. Close your eyes and focus on your breath, try to be conscious of every breath that you take. Everytime you breathe in, you know that you breathe in. Everytime you breathe out, you know that you breathe out. After some time your mind will wander and stop doing the exercise...that’s okay. When you notice that your mind has wandered, you just go back gently to looking again at your breath.
At headpause, we offer a free meditation group session every week, where you can learn to practice mindfulness with other friendly people. Come join us in our new beautiful studio !
23 January 2018