Lifestyle, Personal Growth

Blogmas: 7 daily practices that will boost your happiness this festive season

blogmas-7-daily-practices-will-boost-happiness-festive-season
We get plenty of advice for coping with life’s negative events. But what is hugely missed is that we can we deliberately enhance the influence of the good things on our lives by just re-framing our attention. to what we want The secret is in the small number of great things that happens to all of us on a daily basis. The stranger that opens the door for you at the train station, the shop assistant that smiles at you while she serves you a coffee, the laugh of the people you love and so on…

Many people assume these good things as just part of life and so everything below that standard can become a source of annoyance. But the capability of savouring these things with gratitude makes all the difference as it makes you recognise the good in it by not taking it for granted.

We live in a society where we take way too many things for granted and that increases our risk to become negatively affected for the little nuisances of daily life. If we spend energy criticising or judging , we need to spend as much time being grateful, feeling grateful and complimenting. Ideally we would stay out of all that, but it is really about balance and we risk that balance sometimes.

gratitude

Research on savouring as a mindfulness practice

Fred B. Bryant  and Joseph Veroff wrote a book on the topic of ”savouring” or the concept that being mindfully engaged and aware of your feelings during positive events  can increase happiness in the short and long run. Erica Chadwick, also wrote a dissertation on savoring at Victoria University in New Zealand,  and explained the benefits of savouring in your daily life.

What they call savouring is basically to be fully aware of everything you do as often as possible. This means to be in the present, right now.

What does it look like? Imagine that you receive a call at work from an angry customer. Your muscles get tense and once the call is over your body is all tensed up. You get up to make yourself a cup of tea. In that moment when you are making that cup of tea, you should be only thinking about that, the smell and flavour of the tea and enjoy that moment leaving the call and what happened where it belongs: the past. This is not fully possible to do sometimes as the thoughts will still be in your mind, but as we do in meditation, we notice them and just let them go. What this simple mental practice does is that it give our mind a very much needed break to deal with whatever happens on a day and it also teaches us to re-direct our focus to things, thoughts, sensations and activities that are beneficial to us. As we feel positive our body reacts consequently releasing endorphins and even our immune system strengthens as a result.

Being in the present versus being on autopilot

Being in the present locks us into the moment by our state of mind and attention. Then you can savour any experience in a positive way by engaging fully in the experience being conscious and mindful of every detail of it.  We all have moments like these from the one where your are laughing with a friend or even when you see a cute puppy in the street.. The key is to realise that we can also be aware of  positive things (not only negative ones) as they occur paying mindful conscious attention to the experience  and to the pleasure derived from it. The more we feel these positive experiences the more we can recall them and evoke the emotions and feelings  we previously experienced.

autopilot life

Some of these daily practices to boost our happiness have to do with experiencing gratitude and savouring on a daily basis. Here are 7 ways to do this!

1.  Share positive thoughts with others

Whether is a cake that someone at work made or a funny story you know share the good with others as positive creates and attracts positive

2.. Get absorbed in the moment and take a mental photograph.

This is a funny expression as we do this all the time but with our phones. But the meaning behind these expression is the moment when you are aware you are living a moment that you will remember because it is happy, special or because you are enjoying something. I had many of these just walking through the canal in Dublin during the different seasons for example. I guess it is just as simple as to take a second to take a step back and realise just how grateful you are for something that is happening to you in the moment.

3. Congratulate yourself and avoid killjoy thinking.

I can’t highlight enough the importance of this. We tend to compare each other with other people that are doing or living in ways we admire or desire. Social Media makes this even easier by showing us pieces of the lives of people. But we should be comparing ourselves with US just in the past to really see how far we have come. It is only in these moments when I realise, being a perfectionist in recovery, just how hard I can be with myself and the crazy standards I can put myself through sometimes. It is a good practice to put things in perspective and to feel proud of your achievements.

We all strive to be better but life is a process and we all go through things at our own pace. Celebrate the victories, no matter how small. When you have a setback, use it as a lesson and learn from it. When you are negative with yourself, or when you let others be negative with you and put you down, you are letting the joy of living and your personal energy go. Remember that nobody is born perfect and that it is all a process and the joy it is in the journey  and do not hesitate to be proud of your imperfections. We are all students in life.

gratitude gift

4.  Shout it from the rooftops.

The classic ‘if you happy and you know it clap your hands” applies here. We should not be afraid or ashamed of sharing the good news, the little victories, the things that are making us happy and when things are going into the right direction. If you find yourself surrounded by people that can only talk about problems, negative things, commiserate on negative situations and only make anything out of negative events but that would ignore anything positive that happens to you,then your best chance is to step away from that. I have met people like this and they come from a place where they feel they can’t share small victories as these are not BIG enough for them to share and they fear to be ridiculed.  It is a pity but step out of that and celebrate every little thing as positive attracts positive. The more you celebrate, the more you will have to celebrate.

 5. Count your blessings and show gratitude. 

We can all compare the outcome of anything we are going through to something worse. I know in the heat of some moments that does not mean much but we can choose to focus our attention on what went well, and how bad it could have been instead of focusing on our bad luck on something and only comparing the outcome to the bests of outcomes.

cozy christmas

6. Tempus fugit

I studied this Latin expression in college and it means ‘times flies’. When you think about this and consider what it really means for you and in your life you may feel invaded by a particular feeling. Well, hold onto it. That is the feeling you want to keep in mind. You may feel that you always wanted to do something or live in a particular way, and the idea that we are in this life temporarily really puts everything in perspective.  A good end of the year idea is to design or draw a collage of this year achievements and great moments. I am big fan of  working on my bullet journal and I have done this on a monthly basis. But a year one is even more exciting as it helps you to see all the good things you should be thankful for.  I may add a post with images of my bullet journal at some point to show this and other practices.

7.  Move your body

I have been practising Taichi for a few weeks and they explained to everybody in class that movement and breath rhythm  are very important parts of our health from a spiritual and physical perspective.  What they explained is that breath and movement are related to the way our body perceives our overall health. If we are too sedentary and our breath is not sufficient enough (when we are stressed we tend to breath less deeply and more quickly than when we are relaxed) our body reduces its energy as it perceives that we are not OK somehow so it prepares for the worst. The more I learn about the relationship about the mind and the body the more I believe that the two are very interconnected in ways that can be scientifically explained these days. It feels to me that our body is a very good machine, but a machine after all with its own limitations. When we practise Taichi or Yoga, we must focus on breath and make our muscles relaxed, especially in Taichi. The slow movements and frequency of breath helps you to relax as well. The same happens with Yoga, a walk and any sport really. But when you move your body in any way, as it is supposed to happen, it sends a message to your central system that things are OK. We all feel more relaxed after a walk, probably thanks to the endorphins and the nice fresh air. But it is definitely a way to fight stress and to keep healthy and present in a easy way.

And remember Gratitude and savouring will boost your happiness so let me know how these techniques work for you or if you have other ways to experience feeling grateful or in the moment on the comments below.

 

 

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