Sometimes it feels like try as we might to think about all the good things in our life, happiness evades us.
But though it doesn't feel like it, being happy can be viewed as a decision because it doesn't depend on what you have or who you are, it solely relies on what you think.
Changing our thoughts is the tricky part though. It can feel like it will take months, even years, of practice and it's hard to continually make sure you're on the right track when life is so busy.
But life coach Daniel Dowling has found a way of creating a feeling of happiness for yourself in just 20 minutes, and it can be done almost anywhere.
In an article for Mind Body Green, Daniel explains how the below ritual works for him every single time. Try it for yourself.
1. Put your phone and any other technology to the side
There are various studies that show happiness increases fairly quickly when our mind isn't trying to do too many things at once and being glued to our phones means that we are constantly multi-tasking. If the thought of being off emails makes you feel anxious, reassure yourself it will only be for 20 minutes and after that you'll be able to tackle your inbox with a clearer mind.
2. Take a few minutes to scan your body
We often forget to check in and see how our bodies are really feeling unless we are unwell or exercising, then we are only too aware of every ache, pain and stretch. Daniel explains that when we feel stressed our breath becomes shallow and creates tension in our chest and causes us to hunch our shoulders, which forces out neck outwards. This tension in our body then causes us to become even more anxious without even realising.
Pick a spot and then scan your body from your toes to the top of your head. Daniel advises: "Notice where you have tension. When you find those spots where your breath sticks, take time to breathe into them before moving on. Let each part of you relax before you move to the next."
3. Reflect on the positive things in your life
But no day is all good or all bad and paying attention to the things that are good will help you bring those to the forefront of your mind more. Maybe the only thing you can muster is that you got the best parking space at the supermarket this morning, but then reflect on what that meant to you: you were able to get into the shop faster and so were home earlier and had more time to spend with your family.
Or if you've done your body scan outside, notice the nature around and how beautiful it is.
Daniel explains: "Think about the people who make you smile. Think about your dog, your kids, the things you love. The bad things still exist, but consider this meditation a 20-minute vacation from the heavy stuff."
4. Listen to an uplifting piece of music
Daniel suggests the Shins but you can plug into any song that resonates best for you. Perhaps it's a song that brings back happy memories or one that feels upbeat, with encouraging lyrics.
"When you're relaxed and focused on the present, music sinks into your ears, lingers over your skin, and fills you with joy," says Daniel. "It's medicine for the mind and soul."
Lastly, but pivotally – smile. You might find that you've already started smiling earlier on in the ritual but if you haven't by now, it's time to fake it till you make it.
Just start smiling and see how long it takes for your lips to start curling of their own volition.
"When you do it, the neural networks associated with happiness and joy light up just as surely as if you felt happy – and then you DO feel happier," encourages Daniel.
From Red Online
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