Happiness is a feeling of pleasure or satisfaction according to the Cambridge dictionary. Pleasures may bring short spurts of satisfaction. Such as satisfying one’s craving for ice cream on a hot day to getting noticed by a long-time crush. It also means having an irritating colleague being nice for a day, to not having to listen to a naggy spouse. These pleasures are our small doses of happiness. However, they aren’t lasting.
Our efforts to increase pleasurable feelings, also known as the hedonic treadmill, can end up increasing stress instead. The other way to experience happiness depends on others’ behavior and is less reliable than pursuing pleasures. Pleasures are not the only way to happiness for a mindfulness practitioner. Happiness is instead a kind of inner peace not dependent on external things. There is a sense of open acceptance and peace in mindfulness practice. Here are 7 daily little doses of happiness based on mindfulness.
1. Choose your attention
Our minds have one key and common function – that is our memory. We dish out different advice and opinions to our families and friends based on our memories. Our memories are derived from our attention. Each of us pays attention to things that affect us. If you suffer from allergies, you will send your attention to cleanliness. If you like details, you will pay attention to minute particulars at work.
Others who are not affected by similar conditions will not pay attention to the same things as you. They may not pay attention to hygiene or to details and it can annoy you. When we only take our own interests at heart and not consider how different everyone is, there are many reasons to become unhappy. Therefore, we ought to choose our attention. If someone’s hygiene does not match our standards, we can choose to pay attention to his or her kindness and do the cleaning up instead. If someone is tardy at work, we can gently speak to them about it if it affects work. We need not focus on their tardiness every time we see them but pay attention to something positive about them.
2. Be grateful at the start of your day
Life is a gift and not a given. We know this too well in the time of a pandemic. Even without a pandemic, people can pass away suddenly. Instead of viewing our short time on earth with wisdom, we often view it with fear. Mindfulness of death can actually lead to a fulfilling life. At least we stop taking things for granted. We learn to see the beauty of diversity.
When we are grateful for the present moment, we stop being annoyed by people or situations that do not go our way. Due to diversity, people and events change, and that can bring on a lot of learning experience and appreciation.
Wake up and smile. Be grateful for all that you have. But don’t compare what others do not have in order for you to be grateful. Gratitude need not be dependent on someone else not having what you have. We can learn to be grateful for every breath and experience in daily life.
3. Have no fixed goal in sight
Our happiness need not depend on the fulfillment of one big destination or goal. If your goal is to save for retirement or to save for your child’s education, it does not mean you can’t enjoy your work. Work to most is a means to support the family and to be useful. Most people do not like their jobs. You may like it at the start, but it becomes dull later – very much like a relationship.
A pleasant day at work does not require fulfilling a goal. You can appreciate your daily communication with friends at work. You can have fun challenging yourself when difficult situations arise – such as learning to handle a client with patience and cheerfulness. Or learning to agree with others in order for a proper discussion to ensue. All these add to small doses of daily happiness without depending on the goal you want to manifest now or for others to always be nice to you.
4. Meditation is one of the key doses of happiness
Meditation is the differentiation between pursuing short spurts of pleasures and experiencing inner peace without pursuit. Most people pursue meditation with a goal – from stress reduction to attracting a partner or a job, or for spiritual advancement.
Meditation is best done without a fixed goal in mind. Allowing things to unfold with each breath breaks life into enjoyable bits and moments. It can also bring pleasant surprises if we are open and not resistant to change. The reason many people find meditation meaningless is because our society is built on having goals and having a healthy and youthful population to achieve aims together.
We have been internally engineered to have an aim. Not doing anything except to be present to our breath is boring to most. Truth is, being present to our breath and everything around us, is what makes us feel alive, instead of living in our heads churning out stories all the time. Often, these stories are not real but just our minds making unnecessary comments and giving us things to do.
5. Go to bed with forgiveness in your heart
Another activity that can increase the small doses of happiness in your life is forgiveness. You may think there is nothing to forgive. But look closely. Our unhappiness can rear its ugly head a few times in a week or in a month in either small or large doses. When you are aware, you won’t miss seeing them.
We may have been self-critical and upset with ourselves for failing to achieve something. We may be upset with a close family member for being difficult to live with. Or we could be pressured by an unkind boss. Look closely. Before you go to bed, take a few breaths in the quiet of the night and forgive yourself and others for any restlessness, impatience, and unhappiness in your heart.
6. Don’t take the news seriously
This is perhaps the easiest way to add to your little doses of happiness. Don’t take the news you read too seriously! Read the news to know the facts and what is happening around the world or in your backyard. But don’t get swayed by opinions and commentaries. They are writing about what they don’t know will be a fact in the future and it can stir unnecessary opinions, making our thought-making mind factory work.
A lot of troubles in our world are caused by negative opinions and positive ones. Think about it, to those you brand to be negative, they think your positivity is negative and vice-versa. It does not allow us to see clearly when we are absorbed by opinions and commentaries especially if we start the day reading the news.
7. Download a mindfulness bell
Last but not least, download a mindfulness bell app to your phone or your web browser. Set it to ring every half an hour or an hour. Whenever the bell rings, it helps you to come back to the present moment. Stop whatever you are doing, and for the three bell sounds, take refuge and rest in your breath. Take each bell sound as helping you to rest your mind, rather than an obstacle to your work. A rested mind is an alert and happy mind.
See what happens when you start honoring the mindfulness bell regularly on a daily basis for a week.
We hope you try these small exercises in a day and check if they make any changes to your mind.