Try This Quick “Micro-Mindfulness” Exercise To Create More Happiness for Yourself
Here’s a quick tip on creating more happiness for yourself using what I call “Micro-Mindfulness”. There is evidence from neuroscience that this technique actually changes your brain with regular use.
Trying to Find Happiness?
For most of humanity, the search for happiness is elusive. We usually assume that accomplishing big goals such as completing a degree, earning money, or getting married will lead to happiness, only to be disappointed that we return to the same baseline level of happiness we’ve always had. While it’s great to pursue important goals, we don’t need to depend on these milestones to be fulfilled in life. We can create more happiness by simply noticing the positive and pleasurable events that are already here.
You might be consciously aware that there are things in your life to be grateful for, however, how much of the time do you actually feel gratitude, appreciation, or joy as a full body, satisfying physical and emotional experience? Most of us are too busy or consumed with our problems to notice we have access to happiness right now. In fact, the present moment is the only place that we can experience happiness.
Here is where mindfulness practice can be very beneficial. One of the fundamental theories of mindfulness is that it is not the degree or intensity of a positive experience that creates fulfillment, but rather the extent to which we mindfully and fully experience it.
This need not take long. This technique is simple and only requires 30-90 seconds of your time.
Check This Out for Yourself by Doing the Following Exercise:
Visualize, notice, or pull up a memory of something positive. Here are three simple things you can focus on:
1. Something in your life you’re grateful for. This could be good health, a relationship, an activity creates meaning and purpose for you, or a possession that makes your life easier.
2. A pleasurable experience that was recent or is occurring right now. It could be enjoying a cup of coffee or tasty meal, listening to music, or receiving a hug from someone you love.
3. Something beautiful in the world around you. It could be a tree or natural object you can see, a piece of artwork, even the sky and clouds above your head right now.
Here’s the Important Part:
Rather than letting one of these experiences pass through your mind before you return to some task or other thoughts you are having, pause and try to concentrate on the positive experience. Try to hold any image of it in your mind while also directing your attention towards the emotional or physical sensations in your body. You might begin to notice you feel relaxation, calm, peace, joy, or pleasure in some or many locations in your body. Notice if this intentional use of your attention intensifies these sensations. Perhaps they will spread them more evenly throughout your body, or maybe it will make the emotion or physical sensation deeper and more fulfilling. If possible, you can drop your focus on the positive experience and simply enjoy the physical and emotional sensations by themselves.
See if you can this exercise for 60 to 90 seconds. If the positive sensations dissipate because your mind wanders off to other thoughts, you can regenerate the image of the thing that you appreciate, are grateful for, or find beautiful in your mind and see if it re-creates the positive sensations.
That’s basically it. Hopefully, the effects of this exercise will linger, elevating your mood after you’ve completed your visualization. You can try incorporating this practice into your daily routine, perhaps at the end of your day or during a break at work.
With regular practice, you’re actually rewiring the neurons in your brain to automatically have deeper experiences of positive events and create durable happiness. Not a bad trade-off for 90 seconds of your time and a little effort! Some people report that doing this exercise daily for as little as a week can noticeably improve their sense of well-being and happiness.
If you’d like to learn more about this technique, check out Rick Hansen’s book “Hardwiring for Happiness”. He gets into the neuroscience behind these kind of mindfulness strategies.
Thanks Robin! I think about gratitude and beauty every day, but these specific tips will provide a more mindful experience. To fully appreciate, be grateful and internalize the beauty surrounding us, 90 seconds per day seems to be a rich investment of time. Thanks again!