Happiness has always been an abstract subject. People have different ideas of what makes them “happy”. Even the definition of the concept of happiness is abstract per se. Psychologists analyzed this feeling and found that Buddhist monks are among the happiest people in the world. Why is that? Findings show people are happiest when they are highly focused on the present moment.
The practice of focusing on the “present” or mindfulness has long been propagated and practiced by psychologists (1). It is a technique that focuses on savouring the present, preventing us from thinking about the past, or worrying about the future.
When one is highly focused on the present, it is putting all of our focus on the task we are doing. Mindfulness comes in numerous forms including mindful breathing, mindful eating, and mindful imagery. In essence, the skill can be applied to any activity.
Sonja Lyubomirsky has done numerous research on the pursuit of happiness at the University of California. She stated that “…people high in mindfulness – that is, those who are prone to be mindfully attentive to the here and now and keenly aware of their surroundings – are models of flourishing and positive mental health” (2).
If you are still skeptical about embracing mindfulness as an integral part of your daily routine, consider some of its numerous benefits:
A Happier Life
The regular practice of mindfulness can enhance your feeling of happiness by creating the framework in which you appreciate where you are now and what you are doing. It avoids any regrets you have about the past and anxieties about the future. Researchers also found that mindfulness is related to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol (3).
When your mind is full of worries, you are draining your mental resources. As a consequence, your ability to concentrate on the task at hand declines. You may find it harder to think clearly, solve problems, and make decisions.
Mindfulness trains your mind to exercise flexibility. This allows you to switch out of a mind-wandering mode to focus on the present (4).
Better Control Of Emotions
In practicing mindfulness, you are gaining more control, or developing self-regulation, if you will, of your mind, body, and emotions. If you have difficulties controlling anxieties, you may find yourself better able to prevent those emotions from consuming your energy and time (5).
Increase Health In General
Mindfulness is associated with lowering cortisol secretion. Low cortisol secretion in turn lowers the risks of diseases related to the hormone, such as heart attack, stroke, etc.
Mindfulness has also been found to ameliorate symptoms of mental disorders (6). It has even been incorporated into established psychotherapeutic modalities such as Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy.
If you are seeking to incorporate a happiness practice into your wellness routine, the above are good reasons to consider mindfulness as a daily habit. Incorporating a new practice into your daily wellness routine doesn't have to be overwhelming but it does require consistency. After all, change comes about as a result of small efforts repeated regularly.