I think some of the things people have done to be happier and less stressed in their lives, not necessarily in their work, are things like focusing on gratitude, meditation and mindfulness.
Gratitude is a really obvious one to me. I’ve noticed that grateful people are happy people. I know people who have so very much and have had all the opportunities in the world to be happy, yet their focus is on what they don’t have and what others have instead. I also know people who have very little and are leading lives of contentment. They make do with what they have, and their focus is family and love.
Those of you with small children will know that they are comforted with routine. They feel safe knowing that we do the same steps each night before bedtime. We have started a habit with our three-year-old to say what she calls ‘Thank You For’ every night. Thank You for our family, thank You for our home, thank You for all the fun today. I’m building a culture of gratitude in our home such that they focus on what they have and be glad for it.
Many of you may have seen the 100 Days of Happiness project last year. To focus on even the small things that make us happy, is a commendable initiative and the fact that it was on social media made it spread. I read some scathing article urging people to keep their happiness to themselves. If ever I saw someone who needed to actively focus on happiness!
Meditation has been a tricky one for me. I’m a bit of a fidget and although I love the peace of silence, I do battle to sit or lie for a long time doing ‘nothing’. I may have gotten into bad habits being a mother of small children in that there is always something to do, tidy up or prepare for tomorrow. I Googled how to meditate and was relieved to hear that I only need to start with two to three minutes each time. So I’m doing that for now and hopefully I’ll get better at it. My condition leads to sleep disturbances, aggravated by the odd nightmare or blankie being lost in the night. Rest is of primary importance at the moment so disturbed sleep is a real issue for me. I have noticed though, on the days I do some solid meditation (albeit for a few minutes), I do tend to sleep better.
What does it mean to be mindful? Wikipedia defines it as “the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment”, which can be trained by meditational practices derived from Buddhist anapanasati”. Being mindful is so tightly linked with happiness. Let’s stop chasing the next thing, hoping it will lead to happiness. Happiness is enjoying the moment and being grateful for it. Matt Killingsworth investigated how staying in the moment enhances happiness by his interesting research.
Our lives have become so hurried that it is very hard to enjoy the moment. It’s something I’m going to be focussing on in the coming months. Hopefully the meditation and mindfulness go hand in hand. I’m enjoying these amazing years of parenting small children, watching the joy they experience in the small things.My gratitude is mostly around my immediate family and the great blessing of being a parent.