In this guide, we’ll look at the best types of meditation for happiness and positivity.
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, joyful, and loving just by practising daily meditation. Although I will state I also used yoga for positivity.
Indeed, there is a remarkable link between meditation, happiness and positivity.
When we meditate, we focus on the present moment. This helps us to escape our thoughts and to live for now, which is crucial for feeling good.
Science proves it too.
In 2010, psychologists at Harvard University studied the link between present-moment mindfulness and happiness. They found that the happiest people are those who live in the moment. [READ: Meditation For Being Present In The Moment]
There are many ways to use meditation for happiness and positivity.
Arguably the best meditation for happiness and positivity is this gratitude meditation script.
However, there are many options. Indeed, most meditation techniques will make you happier. That’s why, below, I have discussed the many ways to meditate for happiness. And you’ll also get to learn about why meditation makes you happy.
I’ve heard from many of my students in my online meditation lessons that they feel significantly happier after their first meditation lesson.
- You can also use these techniques for positive thinking.
Why meditation makes you happy
To understand the link between meditation, happiness, and positivity, we need to look at the neuroscience of happiness.
According to Positive Psychology expert Rick Hanson, happiness has a lot to do with the 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 positive thoughts. And so, this causes negativity to grow more than positivity.
Negative events get stored in “implicit memory”. We inherently remember negative emotions more than positive ones. But we can fix this by deliberately remember positive times in our lives. When we do this, those positive events form neural structure. Indeed, this is one of the best things about using meditation for happiness and positivity, because it literally changes our brains to be more positive.
Not only do painful events create negative thoughts, but we make things words by ruminating on them.
There is a parable called the “Second Arrow.” In it, Buddha says 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. We double the pain.
This is where we come to the first link between meditation, happiness and positivity.
Firstly, one reason 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. In turn, this activates the parasympathetic nervous system. And that reduces the effect of the sympathetic nervous system and the “fight or flight” response.
We can do this by mindfully breathing through painful events. As Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh said, “My breath is my anchor”. When we go through rough times we can breathe mindfully, and this will make painful events more tolerable.
We can also use mindfulness for happiness by being aware of when we are dwelling on the negatives. In turn, we can reduce rumination by not thinking negatively. And this will limit how much negativity grows neurologically.
And finally, we can use methods like a guided meditation for happiness and positivity to bring up positive thoughts and feelings.
Meditation and the Happy Brain
When we use meditation for happiness and positivity, we exercise the insula. This is part of the cerebral cortex folded deep within the lateral sulcus. According to neuroscientist AD (Bud) Craig, it is highly involved with feelings and emotions [Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2009].
Exercises like yoga and meditation make the insula thicker according to Sara W. Lazar [Harvard University]. When we meditate, we develop more neural connections. In turn, this helps us to be more aware and more in control of our feelings.
Meditation and the Happiness Set Point
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.
Basically, we have a happiness set point, which is our general overall level of happiness and is usually fixed. Indeed, researchers found that even people who win the lottery don’t actually become happier. Why? Because they were born with low happiness set points. But guess what? According to Robert Puff PhD in an article for Psychology Today, there’s a direct link between meditation and the happiness set point.
Research by neuroscientist Sara Lazar shows that when we practise daily meditation, the happiness set point increases so that we become generally happier.
Plus, research shows that meditation reduces amygdala activity. And this reduces 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 and positivity. So how do you do it?
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.
Try these techniques:
- Focus generally on the present moment. To do this, 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, a memory. Focus on that one thing absolutely for a few moments. Meditate on it.
- Continue being mindful of the moment. This will cultivate happiness.
The above are some simple steps to help you to start feeling good about life. These are basic mindfulness practices. They are simple little ways to meditate for happiness.
Now let’s look at the best types of meditation for happiness and positivity.
Best Meditations For Happiness And Positivity
For complete scripts to all these techniques, please refer to my big guide to different techniques.
Here are the best happiness meditation techniques.
1: Vipassana Meditation
Arguably the best meditation for happiness and positivity is Vipassana.
Vipassana is the practice of monitoring and labelling your thoughts and emotions. And it is scientifically proven to make you feel more positive.
Vipassana teacher S. N. Goenka says that when we understand emotions, we gain the power to control them. That includes positive emotions like happiness and joy as well as negative emotions like anger and sadness.
The Theravada Buddhist text Abhidhamma Pitaka describes Vipassana as a process of insight into psychological phenomena.
In Vipassana, we meditate on the breath. And then 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 according to research from Jared B. Torre [Department of Psychology, University of California].
Why is this one of the best meditations for happiness and positivity? Because it increases emotional awareness, so we have more control of our moods.
Research shows that Vipassana enhances our control over thoughts and feelings. In turn, this reduces stress, anxiety, and other problems..
2: Loving Kindness Meditation
You may have heard about Loving Kindness Meditation (Metta) from Buddhist meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg.
In Loving Kindness Meditation is a technique we visualise giving and receiving compassion. Not only does this increase pleasant emotions like joy, but it also cultivates 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 from those positive emotions. This is where Loving-Kindness comes in. We use it to cultivate feelings of love and kindness from others, and from ourselves.
Neuroimaging scans from Stefan G. Hofmann, PhD at the University of Boston show that Loving Kindness Meditation changes the structure of the brain. Plus, it increases warm feelings like kindness, love, compassion, and happiness. That’s why this is one of the best meditations for happiness and positivity.
Try this method for ten minutes now and you will 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 a type of yoga described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It is the fifth of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. We use it to eliminate negative influences in our lives and increase positive influences. Pratyahara tips the scales in favour of positive emotions and removes many of the causes of unhappiness.
If you are going to be creating happiness through meditation, it is wise to practise pratyahara too because it makes the effects of meditation last longer.
To do this, remove anything from your life that is making you negative. Meanwhile, increase things that make you positive. This could include objects and possessions, other people, or other sources of negativity.
I find that pratyahara trains me to not take in too much information and to conserve my inner peace.
4: Mindful CBT for positive thinking
Do you experience a lot of negative thoughts? If so, you should try Mindfulness-Based-Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a type of psychological therapy created by Jon Kabat Zinn. It is based on the theories of Dr Aaron T. Beck. It helps us handle negative thoughts.
What makes this one of the best meditations for happiness and positivity is that it targets the negative thoughts that are preventing us from feeling joyful. We can then change those thoughts to more positive ones. Thereby, we 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.
5: Mantra meditation
Mantras are specific words or phrases with spiritual properties. They are similar to affirmations or spells but are backed by science. Notable teachers of this method include Deepak Chopra and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (creator of Transcendental Meditation).
When we meditate on a mantra, we relax the mind. We also get special benefits based on the mantra we use. One good mantra meditation to feel happy is “Om.”
- Sit cross-legged (or on a chair).
- Begin to chant “Om” slowly
- You should feel the sound resonating around your nose than your 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.
- Focus on the sound.
- Continue chanting Om, the mantra for happiness, for as long as you like.
This creates reverberations in the body that relax physical tension. Plus, it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to promote relaxation.
One happiness-mantra that I use is “Life is good”. Reciting this mantra trains my mind to see the good in the world.
It has been scientifically proven that gratitude makes us happier. Plus, it helps with problems like depression, stress and anxiety. Indeed, gratitude is one of the “Character Strengths” of Positive Psychology, the branch of psychology created by Martin Seligman that investigates the psychology of happiness and success.
By practising gratitude, you will cultivate positive thoughts and generate joy.
I use gratitude meditation most days to remind myself of how fortunate I am. And research from Dr Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami shows that gratitude makes us happier.
7: Use This Happiness Meditation Script
In my experience, this is the best meditation for happiness and positivity. It will take five to ten minutes. I promise you will be glad that you did it. It’s all about letting go.
Follow these instructions:
- Get comfortable in a relaxing space. Sit with good posture with a straight but relaxed spine. Gently lower your chin to elongate your neck.
- Close your eyes and focus your mind on your breathing for a few minutes.
- 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.
- Begin to focus on each of your senses. Meditate on taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight. And then meditate on your own body. Move your focus around your body, being aware of all the sensations you are experiencing.
- Continue to meditate in this fashion for 108 breaths.
- Open your eyes and continue to be mindful.
Guided Meditation For Happiness And Positivity
And that is how to meditate for happiness.
Are you ready to feel happy? Do you want to learn meditation? Book an online meditation lesson with me today.