7 Ways to Increase Your Happiness

7 ways to increase happiness

Happiness is a choice. Happiness does not come from possessions or external circumstances. But simply knowing that happiness is a choice is not enough. Fully experiencing it still requires a conscience decision to do so each day. A little effort can go a long way in increasing happiness.

1   Get physical.

Physical activity is a great way to reduce our stress levels and pump up the endorphins. Sometimes the best way to increase our happiness level is to have a good workout. If you are feeling lacking in the happiness area think about the last time you worked up a sweat. Physical activity boosts your confidence and your mood.

2   Outweigh negative thoughts with the positive.

Give your negative thoughts a spanking and slap on three positives to outweigh the negative. Figure out where your negative thoughts are coming from by trying to find three positive things about the topic. If you find more positives than negatives keep the source around. If you don’t, it is time to toss it out and start thinking instead about the positive effects of moving away from the source of your unhappiness. Take action towards the positive instead of letting the negative thoughts consume you.

3   Drop the worries—focus on what you can control.

If you can’t control it don’t worry about it. So many of us get wrapped up in what-if land that we start feeling at home in it. Figuring out solutions to worst-case scenario gives us a false truth that we are somehow more prepared or more control of things that we have no effect on. It is better to focus your energy on things you can control and things that can make you happier.

4   Do a happy activity every day. Give yourself small acts of kindness.

Consider a time you were really, truly happy. How did you feel in that moment? Don’t you want more of that? Figure out what things make you happy and do one thing that makes you happy every day. This way, when things are not going as well as we hope they would we can find ways to lighten our mood and change the direction of our lives back to happy land.

5   Smile—a smile attracts happiness of others! It is a magnet that lights up the world.

One of the most unique things each person has is their smile. The shape of our teeth are actually pretty interesting and I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who looked better frowning than they do with a big ol’ smiley face! I honestly believe that we are each here to make a positive impact on others in our own unique way. One way to do that is to smile at others let them smile back and enjoy the unique energy flow that comes from a smile exchange.

6   Accept your life.

When we focus on our dreams we are more likely to achieve our dreams and as a result feel more content with the direction our lives have taken. To do this most effectively we have to push past the life un-acceptance speeches that start with “What if?” “If only? or “Someday” and rewrite our mentality with action verbs towards our dreams. Like Chris Prentiss says in Zen And the Art of Happiness “Everything that happens to me is the best possible thing that could happen to me”. Be the author of your moments and do what you can with your resources to reach your dreams but also accept life for what it is. You can’t change the past nor should you try. You are exactly who you are for a beautiful reason. Each of our happiness really depends on doing the work required to allow that reason to be expressed to the world.

7   Live in the present.

It is happy time all the time! Every moment is a new opportunity for us to be more alive and more in tune with the sounds, actions, and feelings of each moment. When we are present or “in the moment” we once again take our happiness away from its dependency on the happiness prescribed by our mind’s chatter to the happiness found at our present state. We become more aware, and with the intent of finding a greater sense of contentment our many senses begin to resonate with each moment to its fullest potential. Time slows down and we are at ease with the natural course of our lives.

Got Bad Habits? Meditation Can Help Eliminate Them

We’ve all got our vices. These are the things we do because they help us feel good, even if but for a moment. Unfortunately many vices also tend to be detrimental to personal health. If you’re trying to stop a bad habit, then meditation can help to give you the strength needed to overcome those decisions. Here are just a few of the bad habits that can be reduced or stopped with meditation.

#1. Eating Too Much

Boredom eating is a waistline killer. When we watch a TV show, movie, or surfing the web, food is often part of that routine. If we’ve got downtime, we eat. If we’re playing video games, we eat. If we’re driving somewhere, we’ll have a coffee calorie bomb from our favorite store. Meditation eliminates boredom by increasing personal awareness. Instead of focusing on food, you begin to focus on thoughts about the world around you instead.

#2. Poor Posture

If you’ve got neck, back, or shoulder pain after work, then your posture could be causing it. Meditation helps you refine your posture because you begin to notice those little aches and pains and make adjustments to relieve them. Posture for meditation doesn’t have to be the lotus position – lying down, standing up, or chilling out in the bathtub can all work. Don’t force yourself to be in a position that is uncomfortable. Listen to what your body needs and the posture will begin to improve.

#3. Too Much Screen Time

We’re approaching 8 hours of screen time per person, per day in the world today. This includes TVs, tablets, computers, and smartphones. Technology is an important part of life, but it shouldn’t be the dominant part of our life. Meditation can help you stop the addictive feelings that technology access causes so life can feel more normal.

#4. Insomnia

Insomnia happens to almost everyone at some point. Sometimes insomnia becomes a bad habit because we want to binge watch a show or stay up to read a book. At other times it just becomes part of life thanks to kids and responsibilities. To overcome the desire to sleep less, meditation can help your mind begin to quiet down so it can focus on rest.

#5. Worrying About Everything

We know the past can’t be changed. We know the future isn’t here yet. Despite these two known facts, we often feel worry about what has already happened or what could happen. Meditation takes the focus away from these worries to help you focus on the “right now.” You can improve your future. You can learn from mistakes made in the past. Most importantly: you can learn to forgive yourself.

Meditation isn’t a magical cure-all system that will make you instantly feel better. It is, however, a tool that can be used to help you overcome some very stubborn bad habits. Try it for 2-3 weeks to see how your bad habits could become a lesson learned from the past.

Meditation Will Open Up These 5 Doors


It’s true that the practice of meditation can be a difficult habit to start at first. Some people find the idea boring. Others don’t experience certain benefits they’re expecting to see in their lives and so they just give up. How meditation functions in each life is based on our own needs, wants, and expectations. You’ll have these 5 doors open up for you when you begin to meditate… but you’re still going to need to choose to walk through that door after it opens.

#1. The Art of the Process

“The end justifies the means.” We live in a society today that demands results. This causes people to compromise their own integrity at times just so they can get the next project finished. Meditation changes that perspective. Instead of looking at the conclusion of things, there becomes a greater focus on how you reach each conclusion.

You could say that the means justifies the end when meditation is being practiced. Even if there are obstacles in the way, something new can be learned and that helps to make life great.

#2. The World Comes Together

People are very divided today. There are two groups on opposite ends of each perspective and both sides view their thoughts as the “one true path.” Meditation simplifies this by taking the good out of each perspective and rejecting the rest. Instead of warring with others over ideological differences, meditation allows us to see that sometimes our own thoughts can be rather absurd.

#3. The Desires of Humbleness

What do you think of when you think of humbleness? Most people picture someone groveling in front of another, begging for scraps. Humbleness is really built upon a foundation of gratefulness. There is a willingness to sacrifice your needs for the needs of another. This is because meditation requires the destructive personal ego to be set aside.

There is always resistance to this process. From an early age, we often demand that our needs be placed above any others. That’s why you see kids throwing a tantrum at the grocery store over candy bars and why your co-workers throw tantrums when a supervisor they don’t like is promoted over them. Meditation helps us remove the destructive tendencies.

#4. The Control of Patience

When results are demanded immediately, then there is no time for patience. When we want that promotion, we must focus on that above anything else. Meditation changes this. Instead of looking into the future to strive for something that may not be, the dynamic changes to focus on the perfection of this present moment. The future can be changed. The right now only exists for a fleeting moment.

#5. The Benefit of Positive Self-Talk

Negative self-talk happens to many of us every day. “That was stupid,” you might say to yourself. Maybe you call yourself an “idiot” or worse. Meditation teaches us to begin accepting ourselves as we are. It shows us that more can be gained by forgiving ourselves for our failings instead of pounding ourselves into the dirt out of some desire to seek penance. We are who we are and with meditation, it becomes possible to love that fact.

The doors which meditation can open for you offer everything you’ve ever wanted and more. Your job is to walk through those doors and accept the gifts that have been offered. Do that and there is no limit to how meditation can change your life.

Defeat Workplace Stress Using Mindfulness Meditation

mindfulness at work

Stress is a major health problem for many workers and the issue only continues to grow. One of the primary reasons why stress levels are going up today is because many workers are only distracting themselves from the issues at hand. Using your mobile devices, watching TV, eating a favorite food… these are call distractions.

To relieve stress, it is necessary to cope with the difficult emotions and circumstances that have caused it in the first place. This is where mindfulness meditation can become a powerful tool to use. Instead of running away from the stress to deal with it on another day, it becomes possible to resolve stressful situations as they happen, leading to a healthier body and mind.

Why Is Stress So Bothersome?

Stress is an internal trigger which causes a personal crisis situation. It creates negative emotional energies that start a cycle of anger, bitterness, and/or resentment. As time goes on, a downward spiral forms as these events repeat themselves over and over again. The mind becomes focused only on the past.

To defeat stress, the past must not be allowed to continue operating as an internal trigger. With mindfulness meditation, the perspective shifts from the past to the present. Instead of worrying about what happened to create stress, the focus becomes on what is happening right now, at this one given moment, and to explore what this one given moment contains.

How Does Mindfulness Meditation Work?

Stress is best described as an iceberg. You’ll see a small portion of ice floating at the surface, but underneath lurks a dark and hidden amount of stress that is much larger than what others can see. Mindfulness meditation helps to melt this iceberg because it focuses on recovery instead of the stressful triggers.

After you’ve isolated yourself to begin your meditation, begin to explore your point of view. Why was so much stress created? Summarize the thoughts that come your way that look at your reactions. Then connect the stress to the feelings you’ve experienced.

Mindfulness meditation also offers alternatives to a stressful reaction that can be implemented almost anywhere. Deep breathing to explore your internal feelings can change a perspective. Even experiencing the textures and flavors of a favorite food can become a form of mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness Meditation Requires Practice

Most workers decide to give up on mindfulness meditation because it doesn’t seem to work right away. Like any new habit or skill, this will take time to develop. Instead of giving yourself 2-3 days to experiment with it to control stress and internal triggers, give it 2-3 weeks instead. Keep practicing mindfulness meditation in different situations to discover where it can be the most beneficial.

Then you’ll be ready to go back to work with a focus on the present or the future instead of the stressful events of the past. Stress will always be around thanks to the high pressure professional environments that workers have every day. Using mindfulness meditation to control that stress can help every worker enter this environment prepared for the challenges they may face.

Could Mindfulness Meditation Help to Treat an Addiction?


Addictions can be extremely difficult to defeat. They cause us to spend money on the wrong things and make decisions that are out of character. Even when we try to overcome an addiction, 7 out of 10 of us will eventually relapse back into whatever we’re abusing. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a better way to overcome these harmful habits?

Mindfulness meditation might just be the solution. This is because the brain always has a desire to learn something new.

It’s All About Changing the Habit Loop

In the past, we were able to find rewards in our ability to sustain ourselves and our families. This positive habit loop would become a literal craving where our ancestors would literally be addicted to how they provided for themselves. This could be through hunting, gathering, or farming. We even see this somewhat today with the modern career.

And yes – work can become an addiction for someone just like drugs or alcohol can be one.

In our modern world, we’ve discovered how to replace those past rewards with something that provides immediate gratification. It becomes part of a negative habit loop because we’re looking to cope with a stressful and emotional situation. We become dependent on these substances to make us feel better, but there’s a catch: we don’t actually cope with the stress and negativity.

It still lingers there, festering until the next event that triggers a negative habit loop. Each negative loop is stronger than the previous one, which requires us to use more substances that can provide us with an immediate result which hides the painful encounter.

Mindfulness meditation changes the habit loop. It not only helps us to cope with those difficult situations, but it also provides the brain and the body with numerous positive benefits that encourage a change in habits. This, in turn, can help to defeat an addiction because it stops a negative cycle from its continuous looping.

Why Does Mindfulness Meditation Work?

The idea is simple: there is perfection to be found in any given moment of the day. In order to find that perfection, we must explore in every detail that moments we encounter. This means we use our senses like never before to experience each moment instead of simply living in each moment.

Let’s use a smoking addiction as an example. Many people smoke to relieve stress or provide themselves with a stimulant. Normally we would look at how smoking makes us feel, but mindfulness forces the mind to look outward. What does cigarette smoke actually smell like? Taste like? How does it change the environment?

By answering these questions, we can identify our negative habit loops. Once they’ve been identified, they can be changed.

For this to work, there must be a desire to want to change serving as the cornerstone of mindfulness. If someone does not really want to quit an addiction, then nothing will really help and a relapse is the likely result. For those who do wish to defeat an addiction once and for all, however, mindfulness meditation could be the key needed to unlock their full potential.

How You Can Begin To Practice Mindfulness Right Now

autumn palo alto

We all have tough days. There’s a really bad one thrown in here and there for good measure too. When we’re practicing mindfulness, however, those difficulties melt into the background and become white noise. Here’s how you can get started right now.

#1. Feel your breath. Breathing in and breathing out is life itself working. Pay attention to the rhythm. Feel the sensations of each breath and what it does to your body.

#2. Connect your senses. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and the things we touch all create our existence. We take them for granted so often. Linger in the moment and enjoy what your senses are telling you. Then connect the different senses together to create a perfect moment.

#3. Pause in the silence. You don’t have to move onto the next task in your day right away. If you get started 2 minutes from now, the work will still get done. Pause in that 120 second silence and just experience those moments.

#4. Begin to actively listen. Instead of trying to state your opinion immediately, work on listening to what someone is actually saying. Repeat what you’ve heard them say back to them so you know you’re on the same page. Don’t listen to be negative or judgmental. Listen to learn.

#5. Do something incredible. We all have hobbies that we love, but they tend to get set aside so that more work can be accomplished. Schedule time in for your hobbies so you can be creative outside of your responsibilities. Get lost in the goal of doing or creating something incredible.

#6. You are what you eat. At least 3x per week, turn off the distractions that are around you at the dinner table. Shut off the computers, tablets, and phones. Leave the TV off. Maybe open a window if you can. Without the distractions, you get to experience the food in a different way. If you have a family, you’ll have a chance to connect with their day as well.

#7. Take a walk. Instead of pounding the pavement, try taking a walk that is light on the feet. Be aware of the strength of each footstep. You’re not trying to leave a trail on your sidewalk for others to follow. You’re trying to connect to the Earth without damaging it in some way.

#8. Meditate. 10-20 minutes of meditation every day can greatly enhance the experiences that mindfulness can provide. Adding this process can make all the difference in the world.

#9. Change things up. We are creatures of routine and that’s a good thing because it keeps us on schedule. It’s also a bad thing because we’re so used to our environment that we start ignoring what happens around us. By mixing up the routine from time to time, we can experience more of the world without sacrificing our schedule.

#10. Identify your thoughts. Instead of shutting out the thoughts you don’t like, observe them. Label them. Study them. See where they originate. Every action you take is a small step toward mindfulness.

You really can experience the world in a very different way thanks to mindfulness. Consider these options today so that you can begin immediately.

4 Simple Ways to Develop Concentration


Many people notice they experience a lot of thoughts during their meditation practice. This is very common. Below are a list of tips to help you develop concentration so you can benefit more out of your meditation practice.

1. Focus on the candle flame prior to the meditation practice

Traditionally, beginners to meditation are taught to focus on the candle flame as an exercise to develop concentration. Light a candle and place it on your meditation table. With your eyes open, gently gaze at the candle flame for a few minutes prior to your meditation practice. When thoughts arise during this exercise, instead of following your thoughts, bring your mind back to the candle flame.

2. Use your physical activities as concentrated exercises

Throughout the day, use the physical activities you are engaging in as concentrated exercises. For example, instead of multitasking while eating your lunch during a work day, take your eyes off the mobile device or computer and just eat. Take a few moments to appreciate your meal. How does your meal smell like? Does the color combination of your meal look pleasing to your eyes? Have a moment of gratitude to the person who has made your meal. Take the first bite of your meal with total concentration and appreciation. How does the meal taste like?

Another example, when washing dishes, treat it as a concentration exercise. Focus on applying the dishwashing liquid on the dishes thoroughly. Use the sponge to fully wash dishes inside and out. Rinse the dishes with water. Feel the water running through your fingers. When your mind drift to something else, bring your mind back to the activity of dishwashing.

3. Do one thing at the time

Take a few minutes to observe how you work. Do you write a document, answer emails, answer instant messages, and facilitate a conference call at the same time? The myth is: the more you multitask, the more you accomplish. The fact is multitasking slows down and prolongs the duration to complete a task. Multitasking is designed for computers and is not for human beings. Focus on doing one task at the time. You will accomplish the task sooner and with higher quality.

4. Developing concentration is a process

Developing concentration is a process. It takes time and patience to master concentration. Develop the power of concentration gradually. As you develop your concentration, you can apply the concentration to the meditation techniques during your meditation practice. Focus on the techniques as hard as you can during your meditation practice. The better you’re able to concentrate, the better you’ll be able to focus on the meditation techniques during your meditation practice.

Not only developing concentration will help you meditate better and be more productive, it will also help you live in the moment. Bill Keane says, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift.” Don’t miss out the possibility of living in the present moment fully.

Your Mind Before, During, and After Meditation


The mind just happens to be one of the biggest obstacles that people face when first starting to meditate. There is no real way to predict what the mind will do. Will it find meditation boring? Will it embrace meditative concepts immediately? Does it sit there and laugh hysterically at the idea you can actually be still for more than 5 minutes?

With a little preparation, you and your mind can come to a consensus as to what meditation should be. Here are some ideas to help you take charge before, during, and after each meditation effort to encourage the mind to cooperate.

Before You Start to Meditate

The best thing to do for the mind is to give it some transition time. It’s very difficult to immediately transition from one task to another. The average amount of time it takes for a person to regain their focus after a transition is 15 minutes. Expecting the mind to “snap to it” instantly to meditate isn’t a reasonable expectation.

Try having a cup of hot tea when you come home. Get out of your work clothes, read a book for a few minutes, and then engage with meditation for a better experience.

During Your Meditation Session

Your mind isn’t just going to shut down when you meditate. The goal isn’t to fall asleep or become a mindless vegetable. You are bridging the gap between your inner and outer consciousness. It’s something that the mind finds exciting and so it kicks thoughts into overdrive.

Expecting all thoughts to cease will often cause people to give up on meditation. Try to recognize each thought that comes from the mind and label it. Listen to what your inner consciousness is trying to say. Restore the friendship that you have with yourself.

Yes – the mind should try to focus on a single point. Deep breathing exercises while monitoring your heartbeat is a great way to being training the mind to accept this change in perception. You’ll notice distracting thoughts will come your way as you do this. Acknowledge that thought, identify it, and then file it away for later.

Most importantly, you must be willing to forgive yourself if your meditation is not what you hoped it would be. It is easy to feel like a failure if personal experiences don’t fit with the instructions. Come back tomorrow and try again.

After You Have Finished Meditating

It can be very tempting to get back into the hustle and bustle of life once you’ve finished meditating Resist that temptation if you can. Let your mind enjoy the peace a little longer. Go take a short walk somewhere. Grab a glass of juice if you prefer. Sit there in the quiet of the moment. Allow your mind to transition back to a faster pace by giving it a little time.

Meditation takes practice. You and your mind will get better at it with every session you make time to have. Take into consideration the before, during, and after periods of this important time and you may just find that meditating doesn’t have to be difficult at all.

Could Your Stress Relief Be Making You Unhappy?

wandering mind

Allowing the mind to wander is often a way to remove oneself from a difficult situation. We can create a fantasy environment where the bad stuff disappears and we are happy. These daydreams can help to fill many voids, but they might also do something else: make us unhappy.

Here’s the problem: daydreams aren’t real life. This makes them more of a distraction than a real coping skill. By allowing the mind to wander without direction, what we’re really doing is equal to watching a couple hours of TV or listening to some songs on the radio. Eventually those problems are going to come back around.

Instead of letting your mind wander and create fantastic daydreams about how things could have been, try these tips to help you make the real moment, the right now, become a more attractive place to be.

#1. Experience this moment. The moment you have right now will never come back again. History is created with every second that ticks off the clock. Every moment has something special about it that deserves to be found. Instead of ignoring these moments by letting the mind wander, consider observing the moments to see the different kinds of perfection it may contain.

#2. Be proactive about resolving issues. When you know a problem is lurking around the corner, it becomes very easy to focus on the problem. You dread the work it will take to resolve the issue. You might even hate the steps required to resolve the issue that is coming up. When you decide to be proactive and take those steps, however, the problem is never as big and the negative feelings are never as strong.

#3. Create a plan. Although some days it doesn’t feel like it, there is always some free time around that can be enjoyed. By creating plans now about what direction our lives should go when this free time can be utilized, there will be a greater joy felt because there is satisfaction in seeing a well-executed plan go your way. This also works for structuring your work day, organizing your schedule, and any other tasks you may need to accomplish.

#4. Take off your shoes. Sometimes just getting back to our roots is enough to bring the mind back to its center. Take your shoes off at some point in the day and feel the ground beneath your feet – though maybe not in a public bathroom! Experience the grass, soil, or carpeting. You’re feeling the foundation of what makes up “you.”

#5. Use your memories to your advantage. Your experiences also help to define who you are. Remembering them and the lessons learned can help you avoid future issues with regret, anxiety, and fear. We all make mistakes. We all choose the hardest path possible sometimes. Once you begin to choose the hardest path over and over again, it’s no longer a mistake. It’s a choice you’re personally making for some reason. Use your time daydreaming to relieve memories, although difficult, so that the future can be improved instead of defined by the past.

Letting your mind wander aimlessly might feel good for a moment or two, but what happens when the stress comes back? Implement these strategies and every day may become a little happier.

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