Tag Archives: Inspiration
If you’ve never tried meditating, I can’t recommend it enough! The lasting effects on your personal well being are just so massive, and this is something you can do in your own home – without spending a dime or even going out of your way to prepare or set up.
Meditation encompasses a rather large portion of different, more specific practices, but at its root, meditating is about relaxation, controlling your mind and body, and clearing away the cluttered thoughts that cause so much tension in all of our lives.
And people have long understood the benefits that meditation can bring in terms of an overall sense of calm, better sleep, relieving physical tension in the body, and a lasting sense of peace – but studies have shown that meditation actually helps the brain reduce stress reactions and increases brain activity in areas associated with compassion, self-awareness, and happiness!
Meditating even one single time makes these positive effects all the more apparent – the good vibes and calm sensations stick with you throughout the day, and as it becomes a part of your normal routine, these feelings of calm acceptance and harmony with the world around you only last longer.
The same sensations of relaxation and oneness actually prime our brains for increased empathy, which means we have an easier time connecting with others (another important element of happiness). Not only does this happen in the first few minutes after meditating, regular meditation can also change your brain chemistry in a long-term way, rewiring your brain for increased happiness!
You don’t even have to take my word for it. Try it out and see!
There are plenty of great meditation aids available out there, that will walk you through steps to relaxation and controlled breathing, and once you’ve got a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to do it all on your own.
Just give it a shot, and I promise that you’ll immediately see the benefits!
The folks at SoulPancake have done it again! In a video based on a study conducted by the University of California – Riverside, they wanted to show a link between happiness and success – but not the link you might be thinking.
Instead of the commonly assumed association, where “successful” people have higher levels of happiness, this looks at the exact opposite relationship: that being happy actually leads to success.
The video presents a basic experiment: two groups are given the same problem-solving test, but one group is given several “happiness affecting” cues to put them in a positive mood before beginning the test. The experiment found that the “happy group” was, on average, faster at solving the problem.
Now, this shows at least a correlation between a good mood and problem solving skills (though there is no way to determine the problem solving abilities of the participants before taking the test), but it isn’t too difficult to see the larger implications of this idea.
When people are happy, they tend to have a more optimistic outlook, think more clearly, and have higher self-esteem. All of these traits associated with a general sense of happiness are also the traits of achievers – people who are work toward their goals with confidence and determination.
So, if happiness leads to success, shouldn’t the focus being on finding and maintaining happiness?
Note: true happiness is not fleeting. It doesn’t come from material objects or monetary rewards. It doesn’t come from praise, or even from other people. It has to start within!
When you can harness your own internal happiness, as the study and SoulPancake experiment found, you approach problems with confidence. But it goes far beyond problem solving – the optimism and self-esteem that accompany an overall attitude of happiness are key components to success in any endeavor!
How often do you stop to reflect on what you have? Do you tell the people in your life how much they mean to you on a regular basis? Do you feel thankful for good weather, for new opportunities, for simple pleasures and little conveniences that make your life easier?
If not, it might be time to start thinking this way.
Gratitude is perhaps the single most powerful component of living a happy life. We’ve talked in the past about the importance of connecting with others, of using your energy to improve the lives of others, and even touched on SoulPancake’s study on gratitude – but a lifestyle of thankfulness involves ALL of these topics.
It’s about appreciation for what’s in front of you, and looking for the elements worth appreciating in every experience, both good and bad.
When you learn to live with gratitude, it’s like seeing the silver lining of every cloud – but even beyond making the most out of unfavorable situations, thinking and living in this way opens you up to looking at the world with a very different set of eyes.
Gratitude is more than thankfulness (even though feeling thankful is part of it). Sure, you’ll feel “thankful” when someone does you a favor or pays you a compliment, but a mindset of gratitude will allow you to see the goodness within those people, to appreciate all of the moments that have built up to their kind words or actions (in both your life and theirs), and ultimately prepares you to articulate how important such acts of kindness really are.
It’s like accomplishing multiple goals with a single state of mind! A grateful attitude helps you look on the bright side, it makes you more open to connecting with new people and appreciating the people already in your life, it makes you notice and celebrate small successes (and look for lessons in failures), helps you feel confident and brave, and gives you a reason to smile!
Notice that every one of those things mentioned above is a pathway to happiness on its own – and gratitude helps bring about ALL OF THEM.
Living a life of gratitude is a gateway to greater happiness and more connection with the world around you. You can start small – look for things to appreciate in your immediate surroundings. Look to the things that make you the happiest, and start making it a regular practice. Soon you’ll be looking for things to appreciate everywhere – and then you’ll do it without even thinking about it!
This is your chance to totally change your approach to daily life. Get started now!
“Research shows that expressing gratitude makes you happier and healthier.”
The above phrase proudly welcomes you to Happier.com, neatly conveying the philosophy behind this new app combining a social gratitude journal with a positive community. Happier could be simply described as a thoughtful, positive spin on Twitter, but it’s truly much more than that. Designed to encourage users to express and appreciate what makes them happy in life, the app also acts as a head check for those moments when we forget what keeps us going every day.
“There is no way I can anticipate all the good things that are going to happen today.”
– Brian Narelle
The above phrase was the first thing that I saw after signing up for the app and checking out the Featured page. I was having a nothing-special day at work and it made me take a step back and think for a moment: what good things have happened today? I lost track after a dozen. Taking stock of the little things, the good things in our lives, seems like an easy thing, yet it’s just as easily forgotten. This app first and foremost helps internalize that recognition and jumpstart the feelings of gratitude that naturally springs forth.
This focus on gratitude is important.
Last Sunday, on the Oscars broadcast, Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey expressed himself in a most eloquent way. He said that he needs three things in life: someone to look up to, something to look forward to, and someone to chase. He says that he looks up to God, and in his words, “He has shown me that it is a scientific fact, that gratitude reciprocates.” Funny enough, science backs this statement up.
Research has defined gratitude as a social emotion that helps bind us to our communities and enhances relationships. Primatologists have observed behaviors that look remarkably like gratitude in chimpanzees, who are more likely to share food with peers who have recently groomed them. This begs the question: what is the physiological payoff for feeling grateful? The research suggests that you’ll feel more optimistic, better able to manage stress, and even more enthusiastic about exercise, leading to better sleep. If you don’t naturally gravitate toward expressing gratitude, there are simple fixes designed to set you on that path. One example is writing down the things that you are thankful for. Doing so on a regular basis can achieve remarkably similar benefits.
This brings us back to what Happier is all about: shaping our internal and external lives in small, gradual ways, toward a more grateful, and ultimately, happier form. The community centers around posts like you’d see on Twitter or Facebook, with a positive twist: little blurbs about what brings happiness to your life, thoughts on how to make today better by appreciating what’s already there, and advice to others on how to train yourself to actively seek out and acknowledge that which makes life worth living.
Friends – or anyone you find inspiring and interesting – will see your posts and “me too” them (the equivalent of a Like on Facebook) and leave comments of encouragement and camaraderie. In turn, you can do the same for their happiness posts. The app keeps track of your milestones, encouraging you with every 5, 10, 50 moments of happiness that you share, incentivizing the process as it, internally, incentivizes your thought process toward a positive approach to experiencing life. This feedback loop of gratitude can truly work wonders for people, as evidenced just by my short time spent with the app.
The encouragement received from sharing even the tiniest bits of happiness in your day comes in the form of others seeing your moment and feeling happy themselves. Knowing that you’ve made someone smile inherently feels great. If you’re having a truly rough time and can’t think of anything to share, just browse through your friends’ experiences and something is sure to perk you up and brighten the day. When you think about it, that moment itself can be your happiness. Go ahead and share it, knowing you’re doing the same for someone else having a dark moment today!
This notion of positive feedback is the core of why Happier was created: being the social animals that we are, expressing gratitude for our lives will have others realizing what they’ve been taking for granted. This will only make us more grateful and happy for the positive emotions that we’re helping to spread. The science behind this idea backs up what we know in our hearts when we feel it: gratitude makes us happier and healthier people.
Give Happier a try at www.happier.com or download the app (currently only on Apple but coming soon to Android) for your mobile device. You’ll be wheeling through lists of positivity and brightness in no time. You don’t need the app to appreciate life’s small moments of grace, but it helps keep track of them in this fast paced world. Always remember that gratitude is not only good for you; it’s truly essential for the happiness of us all.
You’re your own person, right? Everything you say, do, feel, or think – it’s all going on with you and no one else. No matter how we might be influenced, our experiences and actions are not shared with others.
When you really think about it, everything that goes on inside our heads is untouched territory – as individuals, we are the only people who have any say about what goes on in there. At first thought, this might feel a little isolating, but instead, let this realization make you feel empowered! You’re in control! At the end of the day, you’re running the show, no matter what anyone else has to say about it.
And with this in mind, here’s a tip to help you maintain your happiness and optimism, regardless of what anyone else has to say about it:
Don’t give away your power to control your actions and emotions.
If something stressful happens, or someone tries to put you down, don’t give away your power!
If someone makes a snide remark, intentionally (or accidentally) does something that upsets you, or tries directly to make you feel bad, that is ON THEM. If you let these kinds of things get under your skin and dictate your reactions, your mood, etc., you have given away your power to control your own happiness.
Since you are your own master, shouldn’t that mean that you get to choose whether or not you let something upset you?
If someone’s foolish actions are starting to bother you, remember the role that your own choices play before you get upset. You have to acknowledge their behavior, and choose to let it affect the mood that you have control over.
When you can learn to hold on to that power over your own moods and actions, you gain a new sense of calm. You start to understand that you can deal with a situation or respond to a problem without letting yourself get out of control, that recognizing something that could make you angry and getting angry are two very different things.
Holding onto this power over your own mood is essential living a happy life. There will always be stressful situations and people who bother you – that you cannot control – but you can control how you react to them. Don’t let outside forces strip you of your power to be happy – your happiness is up to you and you alone!