Practicing Mindful Happiness

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  • Practicing Mindful HappinessWe are a world of people in a hurry. We are stressed and striving to make it through another day. We sometimes feel used and abused. And every now and then, we want to scream at the top of our lungs, joining in the chorus of miserable people saying, “I’m sick of my life!”

    When is this chaos going to end? Where are we all going? What are we trying to accomplish by living our lives in pursuit of something we can never seem to catch? We’re always trying to get a better job, to improve our relationships, pay off our bills, get a better car or house or boat or…you name it. We think that once we have these things, we’ll finally be happy. The truth is, there will never be an end to the chase until we realize that more stuff won’t ever make us permanently happy.

    The Non-Pursuit of Happiness

    We just want to be happy. But we’re so busy rushing around that we’re letting our lives pass us by with barely a notice. There are so many great people and great moments that we could really enjoy if we noticed them. True happiness is scattered all around us, tucked neatly away in the little moments of our lives that slip quietly by. But we’re just going through the motions, sleep-walking through our lives, only taking in a small fraction of the experience of living.

    What is Mindful Happiness?

    The solution to all this sleep-walking and missing out on the pleasures of our own lives is to practice mindful happiness. What is mindful happiness? It’s like regular happiness, but it lasts longer and is experienced more frequently and with full awareness. Here’s how it works.

    How to Practice Mindful Happiness

    1) When you find yourself in a situation that you know you enjoy, make it a point to soak in every last drop of the experience with your eyes and attention wide open. Don’t let a single drop of this experience be missed. Being mindful means keeping your attention on the present moment. And if you’re having a great time or wonderful experience, recognize that you are happy; that you are right in the middle of having a happy experience. Enjoy it, share it, love it!

    2) Make it a point to schedule experiences throughout your week that you think you’ll enjoy. Then be mindful of how happy you feel while having these experiences. Try new things, taste new foods, or listen to new music, try a new hobby, do things that use all your senses, challenge yourself, look at old things in a new way, think new thoughts, etc. You don’t have to spend any money. Just notice the little details of every meaningful moment that passes by. Any experience that brings you joy and happiness is another opportunity to practice mindful happiness.

    Studies have shown that people remember experiences far longer than they remember the things they buy or the gifts they’ve received. Knowing this, you can plan many wonderful experiences for your life. Being happy boosts your sense of well-being and keeps you healthier. People who are happy find it easier to accomplish their goals or be optimistic, which makes them even happier.

    Don’t wait for happiness to come to you, and stop chasing after it. Happiness is a state of awareness. What good is it to be happy when you don’t even realize when you’re happy? Don’t just practice happiness, practice mindful happiness. It’s a waste of precious time if you’re happy but you’re not paying enough attention to even realize it. Don’t waste another minute. Live your life to the fullest.

    Scott Milford

    Scott Milford is a former mental health counselor for at-risk youth. For over 20 years, he's helped teens and adults learn skills that lead to greater happiness and personal fulfillment. Scott has been working with individuals and small groups providing behavioral education, motivational training and personalized self-help practices. He's passionate about helping people make the connection between the way they think and act, and how that affects the quality of their lives. Scott shares his personal observations through his blog, Behavior and Motivation.

    For more information, please visit behaviorandmotivation.com.

    View all posts by Scott Milford.

    10 replies
    1. Myra J. Horner
      Myra J. Horner says:

      Scott – love the reminder to stop and enjoy in the very moment that we are enjoying it. It is such a simple step and one so easily forgotten. The scheduling experiences is a unique idea – one I haven’t heard/thought about. Sounds fun!

      Myra

      Reply
    2. Scott Milford
      Scott Milford says:

      Myra,

      Right, so simple, yet sometimes it can be so easy to not even think about it. My wife and I schedule experiences, also when we’re doing something uncommon, like hiking on the Appalachian Trail, or sitting on the beach in Virginia Beach, or taking in museums in Washington D.C., we remind each other to stay present and recognize how special the moment is. That makes it all the more sweeter, both during and remembering it afterward.

      Although, it can even be simple experiences, like a hug or having a laugh together. It all adds up to a wonderful, happy, and present life.

      Cheers,
      Scott

      Reply
    3. Tom
      Tom says:

      Right on, Scott! It IS about the experiences – stopping to be in the moment during them – it’s what we’ll remember during our last breaths… and what else really matters in those final moments but the happy times, especially the happy times we were mindful enough to make a memory!

      Reply
      • Scott Milford
        Scott Milford says:

        “…mindful enough to make a memory!” Yeah, Tom, that sums is up. Great thought. What’s cool about it is that we can consciously choose to create these lasting memories. We can plan ahead and make arrangements that we think will unfold into the potential for these wonderful memories. Then, all we have to do is be mindful while experiencing the happy times we planned out. :-)

        Thanks for your comment, Tom!

        Reply
    4. Amy
      Amy says:

      I love the “non pursuit of happiness”. That’s very true – happiness really doesn’t seem like something to be pursued, like some mysterious shadow that can be chased but never really attained. It seems like a conscious choice to be made, a decision to engage. Thanks for the reminder to be happy….right now.

      Reply
    5. Scott Milford
      Scott Milford says:

      Amy, in order for the ideas here to serve as a reminder, you’ve got to link them to the ideas that are just beneath the surface of your conscious thoughts. With that said, it’s obvious that the idea of being mindful is already a part of you, which is really terrific, to begin with.

      Reminders are nice when we’re reintroduced to something we already value. And this connects to an even larger picture, related to the “non pursuit of happiness”, because happiness is already inside you.

      What a wonderful potential for happiness that we all have?! It’s lovely. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Amy.

      Reply
    6. Judith Burton
      Judith Burton says:

      One of the important parts of scheduling experiences is; don’t be attached to the outcome. How ever it works out is okay, perfect in fact. Judith

      Reply

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