One way of cultivating a sense of well being is to be fully present to the moments in our life that bring us a sense of joy, ease or gratitude. We can tend to think that it’s the big things in life that will make us happy – home, job, clothes and possessions. Whilst these may contribute to our well being if we are not taking time to notice the little moments of simple happiness we may end up chasing the big things only to find they don’t hold the real answer to happiness. I’m using an app that allows you to record daily moments of happiness and their research suggests that it’s the everyday moments of happiness that actually lead to a sense of well being, more than the big things. Taking a moment every day to stop and notice what is making you smile or feel good can be a great antidote to worry or anxiety arising form a sense of lack.
These moments don’t have to be amazing events, but can be very simple. A few days ago I was feeding my siamese fighter fish. I had the pump off and as I fed he took each floating pellet from the surface and for the first time I heard how he made a little munching noise as he did so! It was so simple, but made me smile. It would have been easy to see feeding him as a task, something to do quickly and move on to the next activity. Instead, by slowing down and attending I noticed something that gave me a feeling of pleasure.
It seems to be this act of slowing down and noticing what is happening in the present that is the key to happiness. When we are rushing on to the next thing before we’ve finished the present one it’s as if we are not living in either activity fully. The present activity we rush through, thinking of the next one but on getting to it we are already on to the following activity…. A participant on my last 8 week mindfulness course commented on how he noticed this shift for himself whilst hanging out his washing. He was busy thinking about all he had to do that day and then remembered to become present to what he was experiencing there and then: the smell of the laundry, the breeze on his face, the quality of the light in the garden etc. On doing this he had an intense sense of peace through being fully engaged with the present moment activity, even if it was as seemingly mundane as hanging out his washing! We so easily go into autopilot, performing a familiar activity without being present in it as it is so regular we think we know what it is like. By recognising that he was in autopilot mode and turning a curious attention to his sense experience and what he was thinking and feeling he was able to turn an ordinary chore into a nourishing and joyful experience.
As you go through your day notice if you are half living your experiences, being in a dream rather than fully awake and see what happens when you then engage all of your senses with the present moment, waking up to the richness of what is here right now rather than living for the glittering mirage shimmering on the eternal horizon of the future.
To look at the happiness app I mentioned click here