Human beings are thinking creatures. Every moment of every day, our minds are working to make sense of what we see and experience. While this may seem obvious, it is one of the least understood principles in our psychological makeup. Yet understanding the nature of thought is the foundation of living a fully functional and happy life.
Studies around the world show that when people are asked to rank what they want from life, they put the desire to be happy at the top of the list, more important than wealth, status, a good job, fame, and sex. This is true for people of all cultures, races, religions, ages, and lifestyles. And research also shows how vital happiness is: happy people live longer, are healthier, and have better relationships. In fact, happiness leads to more success in every area of your life.
But how do we do it? Especially when you feel like everything is falling apart, being happy won’t be on top of your ‘Here’s-what-I’m-gonna-feel’ list. But as I spoke with Dr Daniel Cordaro, the CEO & Founder of the Contentment Foundation, there are four pillars we can do to cultivate contentment and happiness.
Sit or lay down in a comfortable position. Bring your attention to your breath. For two minutes, keep paying attention to the sensation of your breath.
When your attention drifts, simply acknowledge what made you lose focus and gently bring your attention back to the breath. Be mindful of sensations that arise, what are the physical feelings in your body, thoughts, etc. Notice
them and gently bring your attention back to the breath.
The goal of this exercise, says Dr Cordaro is to eventually transition these mindfulness techniques into everyday life. In time, you can try practising a mindful stroll, paying attention to the sights, smells, and feelings, allowing these to envelop your senses as you walk.
Be part of a community
Up until very recently, humans used to live in small, tightly-knit communities, relying on each other in all aspects of life. Today, our lives are much more isolated, and this is having a negative impact on our wellbeing.
Studies show that loneliness is a growing concern in societies across the globe. More and more people report feeling isolated and disconnected from their fellow humans. Being a part of a community can create a buffer against our daily stresses and anxieties, and provide a safe place for solidarity and
Support. Tapping into communities can also help us work towards our goals while helping the rest of the group achieve theirs. These are the principles behind almost any support group, and studies show that they work. Signing up for meetup or volunteering in an organization with a cause close to your heart can be a good practice.
Practice Self Curiosity
Practice checking in with yourself on a regular basis. You don’t have to be feeling a particularly strong emotion to do this; in fact, it is best to check in regularly. Often our biggest and most overwhelming emotions appear after we’ve neglected more subtle signs of those feelings. Even the smallest reactions have a cause and learning to pay attention to what emotions
We are experiencing can help us find increased stability. As well as questioning what you’re feeling, ask the who, where, why, and how surrounding your emotions. This will help prompt more insightful responses. You can journal or even doodle your answers if that resonates with you.
Practice Contentment and Balance
Journal all the ways in which you are enough, without the need to do or be anything else. Reflect on all the things you are grateful for; all aspects of your life that are enough. For example, it can be as simple as having a roof over your head, living in a safe country without war or having enough food to eat.
If you’d like to go a step further, you can also try the following thought exercise. Imagine you are you, but that you’ve had all of your anxieties, beliefs and experiences temporarily wiped out from your memory. Explore what that would feel like. Would you still be whole without those experiences? Tap into that profound sense of peace that exists outside of these mental anchors.
(Taken from the original article: Finding Indestructible Wellness Within)
This probably sounds easier said than done, and in reality, the road to cultivate these skills may take a while. But The Contentment Foundation have been working with schools all around the world to Schools in Bali, like Green School, making contentment and happines as part of their school curriculum. There is no such thing as too young to be happy! If you want to know more about how to cultivate your inner happiness, check out The Contentment Foundation, they are based in Ubud Bali. Not too far from our reach.