The word ‘mindfulness’ has been floating around a lot lately. People talk about how they’re trying to be more mindful, or how their mindfulness practice has made them happier. But what does it really mean? What is mindfulness, and can it make you happier? I believe it can, and I want to explore this idea in this article.
Mindfulness: A Definition
Mindfulness, to put it simply, is focusing on the present moment without distractions, judgments, or preconceived ideas. For example, if you go for a walk in the forest, being mindful is about being aware of your surroundings, the sound of the wind through the leaves, the birds in the trees, and even your breathing. If you’re listening to music or thinking about your plans later that day, the bill you have to pay, the call you have to make, or something about work that’s troubling you, you’re not being mindful.
“Mindfulness is also about more than just being aware of your surroundings, it’s also acknowledging your thoughts and concerns. If you’re feeling stressed, it’s enough to just acknowledge it and you will feel a lot better than overthinking it or building up the tension by working yourself up over it.”
All of us tend to focus a lot on our negative thoughts, especially those about ourselves. Practicing mindfulness can help us understand the difference between what our reality is and what we tell ourselves that our reality is. So now that you know what mindfulness is, you might be wondering how does one practice it?
Mindfulness, like anything else, can only be achieved with practice. You can’t simply wake up one day and decide to be mindful and it’ll happen. Like anything else, you need to spend some time on mindfulness every day, preferably at the same time each day, and you can start to create a habit that feels natural and regular. Here are some suggestions that will help you build up a mindfulness habit.
Meditation is actually more complicated than people think, and many of us don’t know how to do it right. Meditation techniques come from Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. There are a lot of different methods within those religions and each method has its own styles and sub-disciplines. There’s a lot more to it than you’d expect, but once you start practicing mindful meditation you can start connecting with things around you that are positive and good.
One way to practice mindfulness is to listen to soothing music and singing along with it if there are lyrics. Whether you find relaxing music to be a classical piece, an indie acoustic song, or punk rock, there is a mindful way to listen to music. You have to concentrate on every note (dancing and singing is optional, and not discouraged!) This is actually a really good way to reduce your stress and approach something you already like from a mindfulness angle.
It can be hard to be mindful and focused when you have a million thoughts running through your head. If you’ve tried meditating but keep getting stressed and distracted by these thoughts, consider taking a moment to observe them objectively. Speak your thoughts out loud in an audio journal. Instead of letting these thoughts race around in your head, talk it out and you’ll find that you’re better able to process everything and relax your mind.
Happiness and Mindfulness
Now that you know the basics of mindfulness and how to create a mindfulness habit, it’s time to think about how it can help you achieve happiness. Mindfulness, as we know, helps us handle the reality around us without distractions. According to Felicia Poole, a lifestyle blogger at Writinity and Research Papers UK, “when we’re being mindful, we can accept what’s happening without worrying about what will happen or what we want. It helps us accept each moment, knowing that we may not be able to control it but we can handle the way we react to it.”
Research shows us that even when there is a bad situation or something negative happens, if we are mindful, we’ll feel better about it than if we avoid thinking about it completely. That means that we understand that we are in control of our feelings and it creates satisfaction. When you’re in a situation where you’re disappointed with something, you can observe your disappointment, understand why you’re feeling that way, and letting go of your expectations to enjoy yourself in this new, unexpected moment.
In fact, there is evidence that mindfulness can increase happiness and well-being through empirical and clinical research as well as through anecdotal evidence. There are a lot of outcomes that can come from being more mindful, including a deeper appreciation of life because we’re more aware of each moment, increased productivity due to a better ability to focus, and more joy from feeling accepted and not-judged by ourselves and others.
The more you practice mindfulness, the more you’ll start to realize that you can center yourself and reframe your negative thoughts and emotions. You can achieve happiness when you think about how you process something and learn to let go of negative emotions. As you practice it more, you’ll feel calmer and satisfied every day as you tackle obstacles in your path. Instead of feeling stressed and distracted, you’ll have a much more positive outlook and feel generally more balanced each day.
Practicing mindfulness isn’t about becoming great at meditation or ignoring your feelings and becoming cold-hearted. It’s about transforming your life and becoming a more self-aware and happier person. Even if you find that you’re not being mindful all the time, by practicing it regularly through meditation, music, and speaking your thoughts out loud, you’ll find it easier and easier to achieve.