In this guide, we’ll look at all the best types of meditation for happiness.
When it comes to your personal happiness, meditation can do wonders. I learned that myself when I went from being angry all the time to feeling calm, joy, and love all from just meditating once a day.
There is a remarkable link between meditation and happiness. When we meditate we focus on the present moment, and this helps us to escape our thoughts and to live for now, which is paramount for feeling good.
There are many ways to use meditation for happiness. Below I will share with you precisely how to meditate for happiness so you can achieve happiness through meditation. You’ll also get to learn about why meditation makes you happy.
As a meditation teacher, many people ask me, “Can meditation make you happy?” And the good news is that yes, there is a direct link between meditation and happiness. I used meditation to make myself happy and I have used it to make my students happy too.
In our newsletter, I often post mindful reminders to be happy and live in the moment. This is important because we need to create a habit of actively creating happiness. I personally recommend using meditation to feel happy every day. So let me show you the best meditations for happiness so you can get started.
Link Between Meditation And Happiness
Many people ask me “Can meditation makes you happy?” And the answer is a resounding yes! It does this by helping the mind to focus on the present moment.
To truly understand the link between meditation and happiness, we need to look at the neuroscience of happiness. According to Positive Psychology expert Rick Hanson, happiness has a lot to do with negativity bias. Negativity bias is the human mind’s habit of paying more attention to the negative than the positive. We’re more likely to dwell on negative thoughts than to meditate on positive thoughts. And so this causes negativity to grow more than positivity does.
Negative events get stored in “implicit memory”, which is more about remembered feelings rather than events. So, we are inherently programmed to remember negative emotions more than positive ones. The key to resolving this is to focus more on positive events and positive memories so they form neural structure (we can do this by using methods like daily meditation for happiness, as we will look at below).
Not only do the events themselves create negative thoughts, but we then keep thinking about them. Buddha said that life is full of painful moments, which are like the first dart that hits us. But then, through self-inflicted wounds (thoughts), we throw a second dart art ourselves. So we are doubling the pain and really creating negativity in the mind.
This is where we come to the first link between meditation and happiness. Firstly, one reason why meditation makes you happy is that it helps you to notice when you’re experiencing negative emotions in response to events. When this happens, we can deliberately force ourselves to relax, which activate the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing the effect of the sympathetic nervous system and the “fight or flight” response. We can do this by mindfully breathing through painful events. We can also use mindfulness for happiness by becoming aware of when we are dwelling on the negative, so we reduce rumination, which limits how much negativity grows neurologically. And finally, we can use methods like a guided meditation for happiness, to bring up positive thoughts and feelings.
When we do this, we are exercising the insula, part of the cerebral cortex folded deep within the lateral sulcus, which is highly involved with feelings and emotions. Exercises like yoga and meditation naturally make the insula thicker, meaning we develop more neural connections, which helps us to be more aware and more in control of our feelings.
There’s also a link between meditation and the “Happiness Set Point”. This is a fascinating psychological concept discovered by researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Massachusetts, and published in 1978 by the American Psychological Association. In the research, it was found that people who win the lottery don’t actually become much happier because they were born with low happiness set points. But guess what? According to Psychology Today, there’s a direct link between meditation and the happiness set point.
Research by neuroscientist Sara Lazar shows that daily meditation increases happiness set points by thickening regions of the brain. Research also shows that meditation reduces amygdala activity to reduce anxiety and fear—you know, the opposites of happiness. It also reduces cortisol, according to research by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
Clearly, there are huge benefits of daily meditation for happiness. So how do you meditate for happiness and positivity?
It starts with focusing on the present moment.
As Eckhart Tolle described in The Power Of Now, focusing on the present moment is an excellent way to boost health and wellbeing and to create positive emotions.
To feel this for yourself, try these techniques:
- Focus generally on the present moment. To do this, take a moment to focus on your senses. What can you see, hear, smell, taste and touch? The senses connect us to the present moment. By being mindful of the senses, we start to enjoy life.
- Focus on one single aspect of the present moment. Choose one thing around you that makes you feel glad. It could be a sound, a smell, perhaps a memory. Focus on that one thing absolutely for a few moments. Meditate on it.
- Continue being mindful of the moment. Mindfulness will cultivate happiness in your spirit.
The above are some simple steps to help you to start feeling good about life. These are basic mindfulness practices, simple little ways how to meditate for happiness.
Now let’s look at the best meditations for happiness.
What Is The Best Meditation For Happiness?
For complete scripts to all these techniques, please refer to my big guide to different techniques.
Here are some ways how to meditate for happiness.
1: Vipassana Meditation
Arguably the very best meditation for happiness is Vipassana.
Vipassana is essentially the practice of monitoring and labelling your thoughts and emotions. It’s one of the main Buddhist methods, and it is scientifically proven to make you feel more positive.
In Vipassana we meditate on the breath, and we label emotions, thoughts, and other psychological phenomena.
Labelling emotions helps us to gain more control of negative feelings. When we label feelings of anxiety and depression, for instance, we make them more tangible and more manageable. What makes this one of the best meditations for happiness is that it increases emotional awareness so that we feel more in control of our mood.
Research reveals that Vipassana enhances our control over thoughts and feelings to reduce stress, anxiety and other problems that might be preventing you from feeling joyful .
I personally find that when I am too trapped in my thoughts, if I use Vipassana I become aware of the reality of the mind, and this helps my to overcome negative thoughts and to start feeling good about life.
2: Loving Kindness Meditation
Loving Kindness Meditation is a technique in which we visualise the giving and receiving of compassion. Not only does this increase pleasant emotions like joy, it also boosts confidence.
I’m sure you will agree with me that you feel better about life when you have the love and support of other people. However, when we are depressed, we close ourselves off to these positive emotions. This is where Loving-Kindness comes in. We use it to cultivate feelings of love and kindness from others, and also from ourselves.
Neuroimaging scans show that Loving Kindness Meditation changes the structure of the brain and increases warm feelings like kindness, love, compassion, and happiness.
This is definitely one of the best meditations for happiness.
Try this method for ten minutes now and you will immediately see the link between meditation and happiness.
I personally love using Metta meditation because it trains my mind to see love and kindness in my life, and this naturally makes me happier.
Pratyahara is actually a type of yoga. It is a method through which we eliminate the negative influences in our lives and increase the positive influences. This tips the scales in favour of positive emotions and removes causes of unhappiness.
Essentially, to do this, remove anything from your life that is making you negative, and increase things that make you positive. This could include objects and possessions, other people, or anything else. If you are going to be creating happiness through meditation, it is wise to practise pratyahara too because it makes the effects of meditating last longer.
I find that the main benefit of pratyhara is that it trains me not to take in too much information and to conserve my inner peace.
There are also other ways to use yoga for positive thoughts.
4: Mindful CBT for positive thinking
Do you experience a lot of negative thoughts? If so you should try Mindfulness-Based-Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. It’s a method used by therapists to target and change problematic thoughts.
What makes this one of the best meditations for happiness is that it targets the negative thoughts that are preventing us from feeling joyful. We can then change those thoughts to more positive ones, and thereby enhance our mood.
When I was at one of the lowest points in my life, I started using MBCBT to train my mind to think in more positive ways. This gradually made me feel better about my life and the world in general, and I began to feel happier.
- You can also use these techniques for positive thinking.
5: Mantra meditation
Mantras are specific words or phrases with spiritual properties (they are similar to affirmations or spells, but are backed by science and have been used for thousands of years).
Meditating on a mantra relaxes the mind and induces specific states of consciousness.
There are specific mantras that makes you feel good. Meditate on these mantras for 10 minutes and you will notice an improvement in mood. One good mantra meditation to feel happy is to simply meditate on “Om.”
It is recommended that you sit in a relaxed cross-legged pose, making sure your spine is straight. Begin to chant “Ong” slowly (approximately one ONG for every eight to ten seconds). You should feel the sound resonating around your nose than mouth, and your throat should be completely relaxed. Do not worry if you occasionally cough as this is just a sign of your throat adjusting.
Continue chanting Ong, the mantra for happiness, for as long as you like (I recommend between 10 and 20 minutes).
This creates reverberations in the body that relax physical tension and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to promote relaxation.
One happiness-mantra that I do personally use is “Life if good”. Reciting this mantra trains my mind to see the good in the world.
It has been scientifically proven that gratitude makes us happier and also helps with problems like depression, stress and anxiety. By practising gratitude, you will cultivate positive thoughts and generate gladfulness.
I use gratitude meditation most days to remind myself of how fortunate I am. And science shows that gratitude makes us happier.
7: Use This Script
This is, in my experience, the best meditation for happiness. It will take five to ten minutes and I promise you that you will be very glad that you did it. It’s all about letting go.
Follow these instructions:
- Get comfortable in a relaxing space.
- Close your eyes and focus your mind on your breathing for a few
- Continue to focus on your breath. Thoughts will arise in your mind. The trick here is to observe them simply. Do not fight them or repress them, and do not attach to them. Just observe them and let them go where they go.
- Continue watching your thoughts and tell yourself that they are only thoughts. See the true nature of them. See that your thoughts are not real they’re just like little smog clouds that arise in your mind.
- This will loosen your grips on your thoughts, which is step one of finding happiness.
The reason why this meditation makes you happy is that it lets you overcome your thoughts and feelings, let go of your attachments, and accept the present moment.
Now continue with the steps below.
- As before, take yourself somewhere peaceful and relaxing.
- Close your eyes and relax
- Now you are going to let reality take over. And the way to do this is by being mindful of your senses. So, begin to focus on each of your senses. Meditate on taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight. And then meditate on your own body. Pass your focus around your body, being aware of all the sensations you are experiencing.
- Continue to meditate in this fashion as you take 108 breaths.
- Open your eyes and continue to be mindful (to focus on reality). This will let reality (gravity) take over, and it will make you happier.
If you have performed both those steps, you will be feeling relaxed and happy. And if you haven’t actually done them yet, go ahead, do them now. I promise you they will make you feel good.
Guided Happiness Meditation
And that is how to meditate for happiness.