Happiness and Mindfulness



Last week I went to a lecture by Shauna Shapiro, Mindful Discipline.   Nothing new, I figured, but then again, I could use a reminder about mindfulness for sure and, hearing it in another way is always helpful.  Well, though a very simple concept, the evening was quite eye opening for all of us there.  The big AHA:  Mindfulness is the key piece to raising our happiness level.

Shapiro was quick and humorous to point out, how little we employ mindfulness.  That, even when we want to be present, our mind constantly wanders and that all the judgment we come up with when that happens, doesn't exactly remedy the issue.  Mindfulness defined:

The awareness that arises out of intentionally paying attention in an open, kind and discerning way.--Shariro & Carlson

Broken down, there are 3 key points to mindfulness:

  1. Intention:
    • knowing why we are practicing
    • our personal goal, vision and aspiration
    • intention sets the compass of the heart

2.  Attention:

    • present moment awareness--so we can see clearly
    • 46.9% our mind wanders!
    • we have 12,000-50,000 thoughts a day, of which 95% are the same

3.  Attitude

    • what we practice becomes stronger
    • pay attention with acceptance, openness, curiosity, letting go, kindness, trust compassion

Turns out that we are born with an innate happiness factor.  Whether something really really great happens or something horribly bad, our happiness factor only changes temporarily.  No matter what, within a year we are back to where we started.  External factors cannot change our happiness permanently.  The only thing that can are internal factors.  The practice of meditation is the most powerful change agent and mindfulness is the key to a daily meditation practice.

Now to many, meditation sounds like torture.  But mindfulness practice can be much simpler, less intimidating and still very effective. Remember, what we practice becomes stronger!

So how does all that translate to a powerful daily practice that drives big and lasting change?

  • Practice thinking only the thoughts you really want to have.  95% of our thoughts are the same, so what if you keep shifting your thoughts all day long to thinking what serves you?  The brain will actually build new pathways and become stronger in the place where you think good thoughts, ergo, after a while this is where you will have most of your thoughts.
  • Start with a gratitude practice:  every time you find yourself going down the slippery slope, STOP and come up with 5-10 things that you are grateful for.  Soon your focus will shift to what you want instead of what makes your miserable.
  • Remember:  you only get what you focus on...

Have fun working out your brain.  Be mindful.  Live in gratitude.

The most important thing is to remember the most important thing.--The Dalai Lama