After I wrote the #happinessNOW! post last week, I wanted to dig deeper on how each of the seven happiness habits can support our happiness quotient. Yup, I’m making up a new term: Happiness Quotient or HQ. I kind of like the sound of that! Don’t you? 😉
We can improve our emotional intelligence quotient through understanding, focus, and work; it has been proven that we can also improve our overall happiness. Remember what Christine Carter said: Happiness is a set of skills that we need to learn and practice so that we can become fluent in happiness.
Mindfulness is a daily practice of moment-to-moment, nonjudgmental awareness of our surrounding environment, our thoughts, feelings, and the messages our body sends. There is no correct or incorrect way to think or feel in the moment, we are just sensing the messages without reflecting on the past or imagining the future.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about finding what we are passionate about. One of the ways to discover our passion was to disengage from cruise mode and turn off our autopilot. Mindfulness is exactly that process. In fact, how about we permanently disengage our inner autopilot….It sucks our time, energy, and the fun out of life!
Many studies have shown that practicing mindfulness will provide us physical, mental, and sociological benefits. We can improve upon our well-being with our minds rather than with medication. Sign me up for that please!
By utilizing mindfulness practices on a regular basis, our viewpoint of the world will become more positive, our memory, emotional regulation, attention, and relationships will improve.
How? When we are mindful we look for the positives. Mindfulness is learning. Learning increases our cognitive ability which supports the improvement to our memory, our ability to be empathic, and our understanding of how our emotions are in the driver seat of our thoughts and actions.
“Mindfulness practices enhance the connection between our body, our mind, and everything else that is around us. Mindful living is the key to understanding what our struggles are which will in turn empower us to control them.” – Nhat Hanh
Here are some additional mindfulness processes to consider in our practice of becoming more mindful:
Meditation: I know that some people are squeamish about this, well get over it! Meditation is just focusing on the present moment. It doesn’t have to take hours of your day, you don’t need to sit with your eyes closed, legs crossed, have incense burning, and repeat the word ohm over and over. Yes, this is one way but there are so many others!
One of my favorite ways to meditate, especially when I’m stressed, is to sit in a chair, eyes closed, both feet on the floor, and your hands resting on your thighs. Relax your body and breathe slowly and deeply several times. Feel your lungs filling with oxygen. Wherever you carry your stress (mine is in my shoulders) feel the oxygen in your blood stream reach that stress carrying part. Picture the oxygen carrying the tension away. When exhaling, imagine that stress leave your body through your breath. I can spend less than five minutes doing this and I feel more relaxed and refreshed.
Physical Reminders: Putting a coin in your shoe, wearing your watch on the other arm, putting a band aide on a your dominate hand’s finger, even putting a purposeful smudge on your glasses can all serve as reminders to help us stop and bring focus to the present moment.
Our Senses: Have you ever played the game where you are blind folded and another person leads you around and describes what you cannot see? You relied on your other senses – smell, touch, and sound to help you to understand the world you couldn’t see. This may not be practical but another option is to sit on a park bench, close your eyes, feel the sun on your skin, breathe slowly and deeply, listen to the birds, and smell the fragrances in the air.
Another way to slow down and experience our senses is when we eat. Next time you sit for a meal, appreciate the smell, look, and taste of the food. Take small bites and let the food be tasted by all areas of your mouth – feel the texture of the food as you chew and swallow it. Let the sensations linger before you take your next bite.
Unexpected breaks: When you find yourself waiting, in traffic, in the check out line, even for a web page to load – get present! Instead of getting impatient, be grateful for the short break. Take the opportunity to notice the sights and sounds around you. Breathe deeply and relax while you wait. Look for things to appreciate. Notice the sun, clouds, rain, the leaves on the trees move, the baby giggling, etc…..the world around you is stirring as you sit/stand still. Watch, take it in and enjoy the present moment.
There are dozens and dozen’s of ways to practice mindfulness. Find what works for you and discover the physical, mental, and social benefits of mindfulness.
A quote on habits:
“A habit is the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire. Knowledge is the what to do and why. Skill is the how to do. Desire is the motivation, the want to do. In order to make something a habit in our lives, we have to have all three.” – Stephen Covey
Enjoy this next week increasing your happiness quotient by practicing the habit of mindfulness!