Most people know there’s a link between being mindful, meditation and being happier in life. What they don’t know is how the relationship works exactly, and whether it can really make you happy.
Every day, thousands of people who are looking for a way to be happier come across messages about how meditation can help them feel better. They give it a momentary glance and then move on. After all, they’re not a monk, and they can’t related to the photos of slender ladies looking doing yoga poses.
If this sounds like you, read on to get a simple explanation on how they’re connected. It’s time to give this a chance and figure it out once and for all.
You never know – at the end of the article, you may be off searching for those yoga pants.
Your Thoughts Control How You Feel
As you probably know, happiness is a state of mind. It is dependent on what you think and how you view the world around you. It is your thoughts that lift you up or keep you miserable.
If you’re saying to yourself – “no it isn’t, it’s that terrible so-and-so who has done this-and-that to me. How can it be my fault? How can you be blaming my thoughts?” – this is a good start.
First step back and try not to think about the person who may have upset you. That is causing a negative emotional reaction. It is more useful to jump out and look at this as a third party.
Let’s consider an example – tailgating. Ivan is an aggressive driver who likes to get up close to the back of the car in front of him. This annoys a lot of people. He does this to John (an irritable short-tempered man) and Jack (a calm and patient guy).
Ivan does the same action to both John and Jack, but both of them have very different reactions. Jack simply indicates, pulls over to let Ivan through and then continues with his drive. John on the other hand, becomes angry and gets road rage.
As you can see, the same thing happened to both of them, but there were very different outcomes. To be clear, let’s assume that they’re identical twins with the same life circumstances.
In which case, the only difference is how each of their minds interpreted and responded to the event. And that’s the point – our thoughts have the incredibly potent power to control how we feel about the world around us.
What is Mindfulness?
Our thoughts are heavily influenced by our general mindset. People with a positive attitude tend to be optimistic, while those with a pessimistic outlook are more likely to be negative.
The way we think directly affects how we feel. It can make us happy, or sad. Delighted or deflated. Merry or moody.
To be happier (or to get out of depression), we need to be able to manage our thoughts. And even if we can’t fully control what we think, we need to make sure our thoughts don’t control us.
Mindfulness is being aware of your thoughts and accepting them.
There are two distinct parts to being mindful. Most people are familiar with the first, which is to be present and monitor your thoughts closely. However, equally important, is to rationalize and accept them.
Manage Those Thoughts
Keeping track of what we’re thinking about is quite a challenge. Everyday, our senses are bombarded with an endless stream of inputs requiring attention.
Our brains get so overwhelmed that it ends up interpreting and responding to events automatically, without much thought. It uses our mindset as a template to process the massive amount of information it has to deal with.
This is what gets us into trouble.
Feeding a fast flowing flood of inputs into a faulty fixed mindset often results in a confused being who rapidly sinks into a dismal state of despair.
This is why mindfulness can be an effective solution. It encourages us to be aware of what’s going on and to be intentional about what we think, rather than to let our minds react spontaneously.
To achieve this, we need to slow down the flow of inputs as well as to train our minds to think more efficiently. And this is where meditation plays its part.
Train Your Mind
Meditation trains the mind to be more attentive and aware of our thoughts, with the goal of cultivating a healthy sense of perspective for the things that are happening around us.
It helps the mind to be focused, sharper and to have greater clarity, so that we are mentally balanced and in control of our emotions.
This allows us to monitor and process our thoughts better. It helps us be more mindful.
Millions of people meditate daily to practice being in touch with their thoughts. To observe and understand them, so that they can get to know themselves better, love themselves more, and find inner joy.
Acknowledge & Accept
Mindfulness won’t lead to happiness if we are only tracking our thoughts without addressing how they affect us.
To be contented and ultimately joyful, it is essential to accept the troubling thoughts that we inevitably come across. It is impossible to avoid tailgaters such as Ivan. But it is very possible to manage how we react to such negative events.
Our acceptance of things that are happening in our lives is actually the secret to being mindful. It allows us to develop a healthy mind, and to deal with things that make us unhappy.
A well-trained mind is skilled in handling negative events and reconciling unhealthy thoughts. It allows positivity to flourish and filters out downers.
At its core, it is designed to make you feel happier.