Ultimate Guide To Happiness

meditation for happiness

Where does happiness come from? And why is it so hard to find?

Do you struggle to let yourself be happy?

Do you ever wonder why happiness is such hard work? If so you might want to read Steve Bloom’s article on Do Something Cool.

Maybe you tell yourself you will find happiness when you:

  • Have more money
  • Complete something you told yourself you’re supposed to do
  • Have the perfect body
  • Or some other ultimately bullshit demand you put on yourself?

Listen:

Happiness does not have to be a challenge.

Problem is, it doesn’t feel that way when we’re facing negative emotions like sadness, grief, anger. At such times, happiness can seem miles away.

how to find happiness
It can be hard to find happiness. There’s no map.

 

Does it feel as though happiness is impossible?

I get that.

When we’re down, we tend to exaggerate our suffering.

Steven Handel has written a great guide to catastrophizing on TheEmotionMachine.

When we feel bad we exaggerate the negative.  

A slight bit of stress can make a molehill seem like a mountain. And at such times, we simply can’t see the hope of over climbing all the way back to happiness.

Of course, help is always there for us.

There are more than 100,000 licensed psychologists in the United States (*1), and just as many drug stores. For those who prefer to get their help online, there are an estimated 1,630,000 health blogs according to Google (*2).

Clearly, help is ours when we want it.

Then again, those psychologists, drug stores and health blogs offer different advice, and oftentimes they even directly disagree with one another.

And it’s obvious that help is not working.

The 2016 Happiness Index is sitting at a pathetic 31 out of 100. That’s less than one third optimum happiness. Evidently our healthcare system is garbage, at least if happiness is a measure of mental health.

And no wonder.

With such an eclectic mix of different advice, finding a way out of our pain is about as difficult as escaping King Minos’ Labyrinth.

Yup, it can seem like happiness is hard to find…

a maze with a happy face in the middle
Finding happiness sometimes seems as hard as a maze, It needn’t be.

If happiness is hard to find, put those self improvement books aside for a moment.

Sometimes what we need is some very basic guidance, the sort of guidance we can follow without even the slightest chance of confusion.

Here is that advice:

When it comes to happiness, you’re either letting it in or keeping it out.

Don’t ask where does happiness come from. Ask “How do I let happiness find me?”

You cannot find happiness.

Happiness will come when you let it in.

But how do you let happiness in?

The key is to open the mind.

Happiness works like a gateway.  At all times, we are either opening ourselves to happiness, keeping happiness out, or somewhere between the two.

This gateway, this in-or-out process, occurs within the mind.

When we are awake, our minds are either open, closed, or somewhere between the two.

When we are down, we are lost in our own thoughts. We do not allow reality in. We don’t open our minds to the light of the day. The gateway is closed.

When we stop and actually observe the mind at these times, we see that our thoughts block out the present moment like clouds blocking the sun.

A study conducted by Harvard showed that people spend 46% of the time focusing on something other than what they’re doing. They termed this, “Wandering mind”. psychologists Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert of Harvard University tell us, “A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind,” Killingsworth and Gilbert write. “The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”

This wandering mind serves to block out the present moment. For instance, we might be thinking about work while trying to sleep.

thinking about work while sleeping
Do you think about work while trying to sleep? That’s a wandering mind.

And if we’re thinking about work while trying to sleep, we’re probably stressed even though we are doing something relaxing.

So even though we may be doing something in the present moment, we might also be mentally blocking out that present moment reality. In other words, not accepting the present moment. And if that sounds familiar, you might like to read PositivityBlog’s article about returning to the present moment.

 

 

Happiness comes from outside. But it can only enter an open mind. 

an open mind for happiness to find
You cannot find happiness. You just have to open your mind and let happiness find you instead.

If you want to let happiness in you have to open your mind.

The key to happiness is opening the mind; it’s being aware of the present moment.

This isn’t to say that we must be aware of everything in order to be happy.

We can:

  • Focus generally on the present moment (like when we do open monitoring meditation).
  • Focus on one single aspect of the present moment.
  • And we can even mindfully observe our thoughts such as when we practice Vipassana.

Either way, the mind is still open. We are still focusing on the present moment, and so the gateway is open.

Open the gateway, let the present moment in, and happiness follows.

If you look back at both the happiest and unhappiest moments of your life, you will see that the gateway was either completely open or completely closed.

Bring to mind the happiest times of your life and you will likely find that your mind was open. Perhaps you were on vacation, standing on a beach gazing out over the ocean. It felt like there was no stress, no thoughts, no distractions. You were free to enjoy the moment.

When the mind is open in this way, we find happiness and tranquility.

When it is closed, we feel the opposite.

The key to happiness is keeping that gateway open. So how do you do that?

The key is mindfulness.

 

Where does happiness come from? Mindfulness 

Mindfulness is both a specific meditation technique and a general term referring to living in the present moment (*3). Both are valuable when it comes to creating happiness.

Let’s begin with the latter.

Mindfulness in this sense is simply about living in the present moment.  It’s being aware of the world around us. It’s focusing on the world as it comes to us through our senses.

This technique is very easy to do. We simply focus on the present moment.

Some great times to try this include:

These moments of mindfulness help to train the mind to open.

Numerous scientific studies have proven that these mindful moments create positive feelings and can even help to eliminate anxiety and depression. (*4, *5 *6)

You might want to read the excellent guide to Open-Mindedness on Authentic Happiness for more on this.

That’s the modern definition of mindfulness. What about the traditional term mindfulness?

 

Mindfulness Meditation Is A Seriously Powerful Happiness Booster

In Buddhist tradition, Mindfulness refers to a certain type of meditation in which we practice awareness of thoughts, feelings and sensations.

Learn Mindfulness Meditation for free here.

Jon Kabat Zinn [Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School] describes mindfulness this way: “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”. (*7)

When we practice mindfulness, we are being present moment mindful but focusing on what is happening in the mind itself. Most experts advocate practicing for twenty minutes at a time, which can be a challenge when we are suffering. However, research shows that these twenty-minute mindfulness sessions will pay dividends.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD and published in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that mindfulness significantly improves mental health and boosts happiness. (*8)

Mindfulness. Two definitions. Both equally beneficial.

Both present moment mindfulness and mindfulness (the meditation technique) train the mind to open itself to the present moment, and this brings happiness. So if you ever wonder where does happiness come from, it comes from the mind meeting the present moment.

The more we open our minds to the present moment, the more we let that light in, the happier we will be.

If you think you could do with letting happiness in, I recommend reading Eli Jackson Bear’s Sudden Awakening: Stop Your Mind, Open Your Heart, and Discover Your True Nature.

Where does happiness come from? Within.

Happiness is a simple gateway. We are either living in our thoughts and closing out the present moment, which is the path to unhappiness; or we are opening the gateway and opening our minds to the present moment, which is the path to happiness.

Happiness does not have to be difficult. Sometimes, it’s a simple gateway we need to open.

 

Try These 5 Mindfulness Exercises For Happiness

 

How to be Mindful & Responsible for your own Happiness 

So, now we understand what happiness is we can do some exercises to create happiness. The exercises on the next page are all great ways how to be happy with yourself and will answer the question “will I ever be happy?” with an emphatic YES!

How to be happy with yourself exercise 1 : Meditate: Without a shadow of a doubt, the number one way to gain control of your emotions, to let go, to be happy and mindful, is to meditate.

How to be happy with yourself exercise 2: Yoga: All exercise is good for mindfulness, but Yoga is probably the best of the lot because it focuses on balance (which requires focus and concentration) and also promotes calm.

How to be happy with yourself exercise 3: Challenge your Ideas of good and bad: Something you can begin to do immediately is to challenge your ideas of good and bad. So you lost your job, maybe that’s actually a good thing because no you’ll have some time to work out what it so you really want to do with your life. So you won the lottery, are you sure that’s a good thing and isn’t going to change who you are and how your friends and family look at you? Try to realise that you don’t actually know what will be good or bad in the long run.

How to be happy with yourself exercise 4: Look at Wild Cards in your Life: Looking back over the years, be aware of the number of times that you thought a situation was bad and it actually turned out to be great. Likewise, remember times you thought something good was happening and It turned out bad. See, you don’t know what will be good or bad so you may as well just submit to life and accept things as they happen. 

How to be happy with yourself exercise 5: Practice an Art form: From painting to dance to poetry to music, all art forms have one thing in common: they demand you to focus on the external, which is essentially the same thing as being mindful. 

How to be happy with yourself exercise 6: Admit you know nothing: “As for me, all I know is that I know nothing,” said Socrates. It takes the deepest wisdom to submit to the mystery, magic and wonder of the world. Look for things you didn’t see before. Look for beauty. See life. Recognise its splendour. Drown in it.

 

 

 

 

Have you tried using meditation for happiness?

When you meditate you become happy. It really is that simple.

Happiness does not have to be difficult. It doesnt have to take effort to be happy.

Problem is, it doesn’t feel that way when we’re facing negative emotions like sadness, grief, and anger. At such times, happiness can seem miles away.

When we’re down, we tend to exaggerate our suffering. (*10) Do you remember having a sore finger as a kid? You probably cried and cried, exaggerating the pain.

The same thing happens when we are depressed. When we are depressed we exaggerate our pain. And that exaggeration can make the situation seem a million times worse.

When we are depressed we are already suffering, and we also exaggerate that suffering. The result is that happiness seems a million miles away. And while minor changes could potentially bring happiness, it just doesn’t feel that way. It feels as though happiness is impossible.

Let’s get this straight. It is not hard to be happy. We just have to change our perspective one things.

 

When you’re depressed, happiness feels impossible because of your perspective

When I went through depression a few years ago I could barely get out of bed, let alone find the energy to smile. My mind was full of anger, hate, sadness… a whole mesh of suffering. And I felt completely alone.

Of course, help was always available.

There is always help available to us.

There are more than 100,000 licensed psychologists in the United States (*1), and a roughly equal number of drug stores (which are doing good business as 30 million people are on anti-depressants). But maybe you prefer your help online. There are an estimated 1,630,000 health blogs according to Google (*2).

Clearly, help is ours when we want it.

Then again, those psychologists, drug stores and health blogs offer different advice, and oftentimes they even directly disagree with one another. So you’re never really sure whose advice to take.

This all forms a vicious cycle because:

  • People who have depression need help
  • When depressed, we are often incapable of finding solutions to problems.
  • The amount of conflicting advice makes it difficult to know where to turn
  • Maybe that’s why less than 30% of people with depression get help.

With such an eclectic mix of different advice, finding a way out of our pain is about as difficult as escaping King Minos’ Labyrinth.

Is it hard to be happy? No. But it is confusing  because of all that different “advice”.

What we need is some very basic guidance, the sort of guidance we can follow without the slightest chance of confusion.

When I had depression I managed to find that simple guidance. I found the simple truth I needed to know to get out of depression. And it completely changed my life.

Let me share my simple guidance with you.

 

 

What I learned is this: the mind is a gateway. It is not hard to be happy. You just have to open your mind.

When you cannot find the peace of mind to get to grips with all those advanced and often confusing health guidelines, know this: there is a gateway to happiness. At all times, we are either opening ourselves to happiness, keeping happiness out, or somewhere between the two.

This gateway, this in or out process, is within our minds. And it is scientifically proven to exist, as I will share with you in a moment.

When we are awake, our minds are either open, closed, or somewhere between the two.

When we are down, we are lost in our own thoughts. We do not allow reality in. We don’t open our minds to the light of the day. The gateway is closed.

When we stop and actually observe our mind at these times, we can see that our thoughts block out the present moment like clouds blocking the sun. We can sense a blockage in our minds.

Usually this blockage is not total. We may be half in our thoughts and half in reality, just as the sun can be somewhat blocked by clouds.

Other times, the mind is completely open.

When we see a stunning sunset, for instance, we may forget ourselves and focus completely on that stunning sky. At these times, there are no clouds in the mind. The present moment is entering our minds freely, unobstructed. At these times we feel tranquility, happiness, and inner peace.

Open the gateway, let the present moment in, and happiness follows. It will not be hard to be happy once you do this.

 

The mind is a gateway…? WTF…? Oh, I see…

When I say that the mind is a gateway I am, of course, being waxing lyrical a little.

The mind is not literally a gateway. But it does open and close. And you can see this for yourself just recounting some moments of joy and grief.

Bring to mind the happiest times of your life and you will likely find that your mind was open. Perhaps you were on vacation, standing on a beach gazing out over the ocean. It felt like there was no stress, no thoughts, no distractions. You were free to enjoy the moment. Your mind was open to let in that present moment reality. And you were happy.

When the mind is open in this way, we find happiness and tranquility.

This stops happiness from being hard.

Bring to mind a time when you were truly down. Maybe you just went through a bad breakup. Your mind was full of negative thoughts. You barely even raised your chin to look at the world. You were lost in your own mind. In other words, your mind was closed. And you were unhappy.

  • Closed mind = Unhappy
  • Open mind = Happy

How, then, do we open our minds when they are closed?

Mindfulness.

How To Open The Mind Using Mindfulness

Mindfulness is both a specific meditation technique and a general term referring to living in the present moment (*3). And both are important to us.

It’s easier to begin with the latter definition of mindfulness, in which we are living in the moment. This is the easiest place to begin because it does not require discipline and can be practiced in very short spells, which can be helpful when we are down and when we lack focus.

This definition of mindfulness simply means living consciously in the present moment.

While we can technically be mindful at any moment, certain moments are more conducive to mindfulness than others.

Some good times to practice present-moment-mindfulness include:

  • When eating
  • While out for a gentle walk
  • When lying in bed
  • When drawing
  • When showering
  • When practicing gentle exercises like Tai Chi
  • When sitting outside on a pleasant day
  • Take a look at these 25 mindful habits for more on this.

All moments of mindfulness  help to train the mind to open, and even if we are only able to be mindful for a few minutes these moments will help us to move towards happiness (*4, *5 *6)

So one way to be happy is by living consciously in the present moment.

It is definitely not hard to be happy when you are living in the now. 

 

Another way to open the mind is with Mindfulness Meditation

As well as present moment mindfulness, we can also practice the traditional meditation technique called mindfulness.

Generally practiced in twenty-minute sessions, mindfulness is a way of becoming aware of our thoughts and of the workings of the mind.

Jon Kabat Zinn [Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School] describes mindfulness this way,

“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment, non-judgementally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”. (*7)

When we practice mindfulness, we are being present moment mindful but we are focusing on what is happening in the mind itself.

You can learn mindfulness with this free guide (click). 

Most experts advocate practicing mindfulness for twenty minutes at a time. This, however, can be challenging when we are down. At these times, five or ten minutes is a more realistic figure.

Research shows that short sessions of mindfulness meditation help to develop happiness.

You can read all about the health benefits of mindfulness in this guide (click). 

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD and published in JAMA Internal Medicine, tell THE DAILY MEDITATION that mindfulness significantly improves mental health and boosts happiness. (*8)

Both present moment mindfulness and mindfulness (the meditation technique) train the mind to open itself to the present moment, a practice which brings happiness with it.

The more we open our minds to the present moment, the more we let that light in, the happier we will be.

Happiness is a simple gateway. We are either living in our thoughts and closing out the present moment, which is the path to unhappiness; or we are opening the gateway and opening our minds to the present moment, which  is the path to happiness.

It is not hard to be happy. Change your perspective and everything will follow.

 

Meditating For Happiness

If you have ever tried to meditate, did you notice how big an effect it has on your happiness levels? If so I would love to hear about your experience. Leave a comment at the bottom.

And if you have never tried using meditation for happiness, you are in for a treat. In ten minutes the meditations on this page will make you as happy as you have ever been. Big promise, right? Try it. I am fairly confident you will agree with me.

But before we get to that, let’s look at why meditation is so good for your happiness levels.

Meditation makes the noise stop. The clocks stop ticking, the screens switch off, the thoughts are silenced, and the stresses evaporate into nothingness. And outside of all the turmoil of the modern day, in the quite sanctuary of the mind, we find complete happiness and serenity.

Both science and spiritual wisdom advocate the use of meditation for happiness. While research laboratories to this day are continuing to study the affect of meditation on the brain, religiosity and spiritualism centre on the affect meditation has on the spirit.

“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind,” said the Buddha. In today’s fast-paced society, however, it can seem an insurmountable challenge to control the mind. We’re victims to a constant barrage of over-stimulation. From the pressures of work to the noise of social media, there’s such an overflow of information that the mind rarely get the opportunity it needs to rest. Over time this leads to mental degradation, the mind becoming tired and worn.

The mind needs a chance to rest. Sleep does not always work. Oftentimes while we sleep we dream and even then the mind doesn’t truly rest. That’s why it’s a good idea to try using some meditation techniques for happiness too.

“In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality,” says mindfulness teacher and friend Thich Nhat Hanh.

When we meditate we focus the mind on the present moment. When meditating, the mind isn’t creating thoughts, nor is it judging reality, nor is it performing any other task than just observing. This state of pure observation, of mindfulness, is of immense value to physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Research into the effects of meditation on happiness and other mental states began in 1960 with Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard University. Dr. Benson, a truly inspiring guy, discovered that meditation was effective in treating anxiety, depression, and stress, and that at the same time as curing the mind of these negative states meditation also create positive states like happiness, compassion, and love.

A later study showed that meditation can alter a person’s “Set Point.”

“The set-point theory of happiness suggests that our level of subjective well-being is determined primarily by heredity and by personality traits ingrained in us early in life and as a result remains relatively constant throughout our lives,” writes Alex Lickerman M.D, Director of Primary Care at the University of Chicago.  This “Set Point” acts as a baseline of our well-being. Though our emotions fluctuate we will return to this set-point over time.

Daniel Goleman, author of “Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence,” says, “There’s a bell curve for this ratio, like the one for IQ: most of us are in the middle, with some good days and some bad days. Those who are tipped to the far right are likely to have clinical levels of depression or anxiety. And those whose setpoint tips far to the left are able to bounce back quickly from upsets.”

It is possible to change this set-point. One way to do so is through meditation. A study showed that only eight weeks of meditation for one hour a day raised a person’s happiness set-point. Those participants who had meditated for an hour a day became happier and also more empathetic and compassionate. The researchers also noted that the meditators’ immune systems had improved.

 

 

Using Meditation Techniques for happiness

For the past 15 years his holiness the Dalai Lama has been engaged in top-level meetings with leading scientific figures around the world, most notable Richard Davidson, professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Davidson has observed, “Our scientific lives have been deeply affected by these interactions with His Holiness…” Davidson has been a leading figure in the scientific investigation into meditation.

The Dalai Lama has stated, “All human beings have an innate desire to overcome suffering, to find happiness. Training the mind to think differently, through meditation, is one important way to avoid suffering and be happy.” He adds that “The only way to understand the mind fully is through meditation.”

The leading figure in using mindfulness and meditation to create happiness and wellbeing is old friend Jon Kabat-Zinn, a truly brilliant guy, who founded mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).

Jonny taught me mindfulness with a group of fellow writers over a decade ago. He’s the type of man that changes your life when you meet them. My personal favourite thing that Jonny’s ever said is “You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf.” Mindfulness meditation is like surfing (you can read my complete guide to mindfulness meditation here). There’s all this noise, these waves, flowing back and forth in your mind, these thoughts, stirring constantly. You can’t stop them by demanding them to stop. Instead you have to ride them, you consciously surf those waves, mindfully observing them. That’s mindfulness meditation in a nutshell, consciously riding the waves of mental noise. And that’s what creates happiness and inner peace.

Happiness is the way you ride the waves. Think about it like this. The thoughts, the stress, the pressure, it’s not going to stop. There’s a whole ocean of noise and pressure. That’s just life. Those waves they keep rolling non-stop. Non-stop. But, as Shakespeare said, “herein lies the rub”. The deal is that the noise is in your mind. Stress, pressure… they only exist as a mental construct. Your mind creates unhappiness through fear, doubt, and worry. But your mind also has the antidote. The antidote is consciousness. When all that noise is rolling through your mind, stop. Stop. Just observe that noise. Don’t judge it. Don’t fight it. Just observe it.

The waves are only frightening when you’re inside them. Step out. Sit on the shore. Consciously observe the waves. That’s how happiness is made. It’s made when you step out the sea, sit on the shore, and just watch.

Mindfulness and meditation make life more pleasurable and people happier. If you’d like to discover more about mindfulness and meditation techniques for happiness, start reading my new book Welcome To Silence: A Practical Guide To Mindfulness And Meditation today.

 

Why Does Meditation Make You Happy? It Makes Sense When You Understand What Unhappiness Is.

To answer that question, flip it on its head. What makes you unhappy?

Most of the time unhappiness is caused by two things. It’s caused by change. An importantly, it’s caused by changes to things you’ve grown attached to.

Those two things work hand in hand. Change and attachment. They are the causes of unhappiness. People who feel miserable all the time simply need to embrace change and let go of attachment. But it’s sometimes not easy, because letting go can be a challenge and people psychologically fear change.

People fear change. And they especially fear changes to things they’re attached to.

Let’s take a closer look for one second.

Let’s say that you are in a loving relationship. You’re married. It’s been perfect. You can’t imagine ever getting a divorce because you’re so happy. But then your husband or wife cheats on you, which happens far too often and is totally immoral, but I’m digressing. Obviously you’re hurt. But why are you hurt? You’re hurt because something that you have become attached to (your marriage) is being changed (by the infidelity).

Another example? You’re stock broker making millions. Because you like making millions, you become attached to it. You pray it will never end. But then bam, 2008 recession. Stock market isn’t what it was. You end up losing your job. You’re now working at a grocery store. Happy? I don’t think so.

Those are two examples of things that were positive that changed. But have you ever noticed how even when something changes for the better you still feel a little bit sad? Weird huh? But again, something you had grown attached to changed. And the result is unhappiness.

Of course, you’re mostly unhappy something good changes for the worse, but the fact that you’re still a little bit sad when something changes for the better, well, that says a lot, doesn’t it?

 

Meditation Makes You Happy Because It Helps You Let Go

So, we know that when you are too attached to things you risk becoming unhappy. When you’re too attached to your marriage, for instance, you risk becoming unhappy when things go wrong in the marriage. And also, because you fear change, you become unhappy at the slightest suggestion that something might go wrong. Even the tiniest little hiccup can make you scared and unhappy. And it is all because you are too attached to things.

Meditation helps you to detach. And when you detach you gain control of your emotions.

This is a little what I call blurry. It can be hard to visualise what’s going on here. I mean, we’re not talking about DIY or something tangible, we’re talking emotions.

So let’s take a closer look at why attachment hurts so much.

Again, you’re in a marriage. Because this marriage means so much to you, you try and hold on to the marriage in your own mind. It’s like you are mentally gripping this marriage with your mind. But then something changes. Your husband / wife has an affair. This feels like reality is pulling at your marriage. Your mind is pulling one way. Reality is pulling the other. This is a fight you won’t win. Your mind can’t defeat reality. The more you resist the more strain you’re going to feel in your mind. The more strain your feel in the mind the more pain there will be. And the result is negative emotions and pain. In other words, unhappiness.

The solution is to let go.

 

Meditation helps you to let go. And when you let go you find happiness.

The tighter you grip onto your ideas the more painful it is when life pulls the other way. That’s why you need to let go.

There are a million and one quotes and platitudes about letting go.

  • When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.”
    • Lao Tzu
  • “This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.”
    • Rumi
  • “In the end only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”
  • Buddha

 

But these quotes don’t really explain anything, do they? So what is it all about?

Simple. Just imagine that your mind and reality are two physical forces. Now imagine if your mind is pulling one way and reality is pulling the other? What’s going to happen? Something will break. And it aint gonna be reality.

 

 

So Happiness Is Letting Go. But How Do You Let Go?

So here’s the problem where most people struggle. How in the hell do you let go?

I mean, it’s not like we’re talking about holding a physical weight now, is it? If you were holding on to a weight you could just set it down on the table and bingo, problem solved.

But you can’t just let go of mental attachments, can you?

You can’t let go of your ex.

You can’t let go of your old job.

You can’t let go of your past.

You can’t let go of your deceased family members (something I had to learn to do myself).

You can’t let go because you’re not actually holding on to anything.

 

 

 

Pop Quiz: How do you let go of something when you’re not actually holding on to anything

You’re holding on to a weight that exists only in your mind. So how on Earth do you let go of that?

Well, let’s think about it in terms of letting go of something that does have a physical existence.

If you were trying to let go of a weight, what would you do? You would loosen your grip. Gravity would take over. And gravity would bring the weight to the floor so you don’t have to carry it anymore.

So when you let go there are two things involved. There’s your grip and there is reality.

And if you want to let go of something in your mind you also have to let go of your grip and you also have to let gravity take it.

One half of that is a lot easier than the other half. It’s a lot easier to let go of your grip than to let gravity take it, because what on Earth is mental gravity? We’ll deal with that in a sec.

 

 Happiness is letting go. And letting go is meditation. So here’s what happens when you use meditation for happiness.

Let me recap.

We know that unhappiness is caused by holding on too tightly. We know that pain / suffering begins when we hold on to something that is changing, because our minds and reality are pulling in opposite directions. And we know that to be happy we should let go and trust life.

There was also something about gravity…? We’ll get to that.

For now we need to let go of our mental grip.

To let go we meditate. Meditation is entirely about letting go.

So let met show you how to let go by meditating.

 

 

How to let go by meditating (happiness step #1)

This meditation is going to take five to ten minutes and I promise you that you will be very glad that you did it.

Just follow these simple steps. (I am assuming that you have at least a little knowledge of meditation. If not, I’ve written a guide to the basics of meditation, so take a look at that first).

Get comfortable in a relaxing space.

Close your eyes and focus your mind on your breathing for a few minutes (use these breathing meditations for the best experience).

Continue to focus on your breath. Naturally thoughts will arise in your mind. The trick here is to simply observe them. Do not fight them. Do not try to repress them. And do not attach to them. Just observe them and let them go when they go. (for more on this read my guide to Vipassana meditation)

Continue observing 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.

 

 

So we’ve now started to use meditation for happiness. But what on Earth was that “mental gravity” we were talking about? What’s up with that?

Believe it or not, there is a mental “gravity” and it works in the same way that gravity works.

Gravity works by creating a force to which objects are attracted. Planets create gravity. And because of that we are pull towards the ground.

Your mind is also pulled towards the ground. The ground is reality. Like regular gravity, mental gravity pulls you towards reality. We’re also ways being pulled towards the way things are.

We are mentally pulled towards reality. When you go through bad breakup, for instance, you are pulled towards accepting the breakup. But (and it is a very big but) we have the power to resist gravity.

Just like your muscles can pull a weight against gravity, your mind can pull against reality. And just like with your muscles, if you pull too hard you will suffer, you will be injured, and you will be unhappy.

And that is the entire nature of unhappiness.

Unhappiness = Your Mind Pulling Against Reality

Does it seem funny that your mind works in the same way that your muscles work? Your muscles can simply exist in the state they’re naturally meant to be in. When you just let your muscles do what they’re supposed to do you will be healthy and your muscles will be happy. And when you let your mind exist as it should your mind will be healthy and happy too.

But how do you let your mind simply exist in the state it is supposed to be in?

That’s stage two.

 

The second step to using meditation for happiness

So far we have used meditation to let go of our grip (by loosening our thoughts). Now we need to let go and let gravity take its course. Essentially, we need to let things exist in the natural order. And this is step two.

Just like you let gravity take over and pull the weight to the floor, you’re about to let reality take over and take any mental weight in your mind. This will free your mind. And it will make you happy. Very happy.

 

  1. As before, take yourself somewhere peaceful and relaxing.
  2. Close your eyes and relax (you will find this Nine Round Breathing Meditation very helpful for this).
  3. Now you are going to let gravity 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, ad sigh. And then meditate on your own body (by doing body scan meditation)
  4. Open your eyes and continue to be mindful (to focus on reality). This will let reality (gravity) take over and it will make you very happy.

 

 

If you have performed both those meditations you will be feeling very, very relaxed and incredible happy. And if you haven’t actually done the meditations yet, go ahead, do them now. I promise you they will make you feel amazing.

And I would consider it a personal favor if you would let me know how you got on with this. In my dreams I imagine every single person on Earth happy always. If you could leave a message and say that this made you happy, it would make my day. Thank you so much.

And that is how you use meditation for happiness.

 

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SOURCES

*1 ,American Psychological Assiocation, ( June 2014 ), How many psychologists are licensed in the United States? http://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/06/datapoint.aspx

*2 Ryan Farrell,  The Most Popular Blog Categories, ( May 21 2013 ),  http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/most-popular-blog-categories-infographic

*3  Berkeley, What Is Mindfulness? ()   http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition

*4 Crane, C., Barnhofer, T., Duggan, D. S., Hepburn, S., Fennell, M. V., & Williams, J. M. G. (2008). Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Self-Discrepancy in Recovered Depressed Patients with a History of Depression and Suicidality, Cognitive Therapy Research, 32, 775–787.

*5  Ivtzan, I., Gardner, H. E., & Smailova, Z., (2011). Mindfulness meditation and curiosity: The contributing factors to wellbeing and the process of closing the self-discrepancy gap. International Journal of Wellbeing,1(3), 316-326.

*6  Higgins, E. (1987). Self-discrepancy: A theory relating self and affect.Psychological Review, 94 (3), 319-340 DOI: 10.1037//0033-295X.94.3.319

*7Mindful, (January 11 2017), Jon Kabat-Zinn: Defining Mindfulness, https://www.mindful.org/jon-kabat-zinn-defining-mindfulness/

* 8 Julie Corliss, (January 2014, Mindfulness Meditation May Ease Anxiety, Mental Stress, http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967

*10 https://www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com/news-and-research/depressed-individuals-tend-to-exaggerate-symptoms-3/

 

SOURCES

*1 ,American Psychological Assiocation, ( June 2014 ), How many psychologists are licensed in the United States? http://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/06/datapoint.aspx

*2 Ryan Farrell,  The Most Popular Blog Categories, ( May 21 2013 ),  http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/most-popular-blog-categories-infographic

*3  Berkeley, What Is Mindfulness? ()   http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition

*4 Crane, C., Barnhofer, T., Duggan, D. S., Hepburn, S., Fennell, M. V., & Williams, J. M. G. (2008). Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Self-Discrepancy in Recovered Depressed Patients with a History of Depression and Suicidality, Cognitive Therapy Research, 32, 775–787.

*5  Ivtzan, I., Gardner, H. E., & Smailova, Z., (2011). Mindfulness meditation and curiosity: The contributing factors to wellbeing and the process of closing the self-discrepancy gap. International Journal of Wellbeing,1(3), 316-326.

*6  Higgins, E. (1987). Self-discrepancy: A theory relating self and affect.Psychological Review, 94 (3), 319-340 DOI: 10.1037//0033-295X.94.3.319

*7Mindful, (January 11 2017), Jon Kabat-Zinn: Defining Mindfulness, https://www.mindful.org/jon-kabat-zinn-defining-mindfulness/

* 8 Julie Corliss, (January 2014, Mindfulness Meditation May Ease Anxiety, Mental Stress,

 

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