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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.

7 Habits of Those Who Are Consistently Happy

Choose Happiness

Happiness really can be a choice that we each make for ourselves every day. We can choose to be happy in all things. Far too often, however, we tend to look at the darker side of life. The people who experience the most happiness are following specific habits right now that can help them take advantage of the power of positivity. Here are the 7 habits you’ll want to consider adding to your life as well.

#1. Confront fear.

Life is too short to be worrying about everything. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to any of us. Instead of trying to hide from fear, those who are consistently happy are willing to confront it head-on. This allows us to gain more knowledge about what makes us be afraid and that knowledge builds confidence. In return, the fears can be conquered.

#2. Let the past go.

We all have regrets. We can’t change our actions from yesterday. We can learn from mistakes so that they aren’t repeated today or tomorrow. Holding onto regret will only cause happiness to stay away for good.

#3. Forgive yourself.

Despite our best efforts, sometimes we wind up making the same mistake more than once. This is because we all learn in different ways. Sometimes the first habit that must be established is the habit of never giving up. Learn to forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made and work hard not to keep repeating them.

#4. Take a risk.

Every choice presents a new opportunity. With more than 20,000 choices made every day, there are plenty of roads to explore. Instead of letting others dictate what choices you should make, follow your own path instead. Pursue a passion. Cultivate a hobby. Go after that dream job. Sometimes the best steps we take on our journey through life are actually leaps of faith.

#5. Create balance.

Is life too busy? Not busy enough? We are in control of our life’s balance, but sometimes we lose sight of that control. Structure your day to let every passion have a chance to grow and happiness will soon follow.

#6. Have a conversation.

Humans are social creatures and it doesn’t matter if you’re an extrovert or an introvert. Have a real conversation with someone. Talk about anything that is important to you. Actively listen so others can do the same. Together you may find depths of happiness within a single conversation that you never imagined could exist.

#7. Trust your intuition.

The only person who really knows you is you. You know what you want. You create plans. You make choices. We just start learning not to listen to our intuition because everyone seems to say that those intuitions are wrong. Trust yourself, trust your intuitions, and the noise of the outside world will fade into the distance.

You can choose to find consistent happiness. You can become the person you want to be every day. These habits will help you to discover your passions and give you permission to pursue them. Now is the day to begin because tomorrow might just be too late.

How Mindfulness Meditation Leads To Real Happiness

meditation

Have you ever noticed how so many people spend their day trying to find a way to be happy? Sometimes that happiness can never be found. Here’s a secret that makes finding happiness easier: it’s a choice.

We choose not to be happy. We choose to remain unbalanced. Many times we don’t even realize we are making these choices. Negative attention is better than no attention, so often we’ll choose to be unhappy because at least that allows others to send some attention our way.

This is where mindfulness meditation can really help. Instead of trying to find joy in fleeting moments, mindfulness helps us be able to discover the perfect joy that exists in every moment. Even when the bad things of life strike and pain is everywhere, there are still moments of joy that can be found. Why? Because mindfulness meditation helps us to choose happiness over any other emotion.

How Does Mindfulness Meditation Transform People?

There are thousands of articles online today that talk about how stress, emotional stability, and mental healing can all come from the practice of meditation. These are all wonderful benefits, but they are not benefits that transform people. What mindfulness meditation does is connect your mind to rest of the world.

It’s a practice that Carl Jung once called “individuation.” In essence, it’s the quest to seek out what we each consider to be divine. Many people use individuation as a way to seek out a supernatural being or long lost prophet. It’s a way to connect the spiritual side with the physical side so that every moment of the physical and spiritual worlds can eventually be experienced.

Individuation doesn’t have to be the pursuit of a deity. It can also be the pursuit of your own local awareness. Focus on the closest window next to you right now. Is it cold? Firm? Warm? Now go beyond these sensations. How does the firmness of the window feel against your fingertips? Does the cold of the window send chills through your nervous system? Then do not allow the moment to stop. Choose to keep experiencing it.

That’s What Leads To Choosing Happiness

In order for an athlete to become a professional, they must put in thousands of hours of practice to achieve their goals. Mindfulness meditation is not going to lead to happiness overnight. It isn’t a magic solution to all of life’s problems. What it does do is provide exposure to the mechanisms that are necessary for mindfulness to begin growing roots so it becomes easier to choose happiness over time.

If you’re ready to get started, then today is as good a day as any to explore mindfulness meditation. Take a few moments right now, close your eyes, and let the outside world fade away. What do you hear? What do you feel? Now take these feelings and find the perfection that exists within them. In doing so, you’ll be taking the first steps toward a life that is filled with real happiness.

6 Tips To Increase Your Happiness Right Now

Choose Happiness

Most people spend their lives waiting for happiness to happen to them. The truth is that you can choose to be happy at any moment. Happiness isn’t something that just happens though. It’s something you need to actively pursue. Below are 5 tips to help you find true happiness.

#1. Don’t be overly critical of yourself. It’s really easy to look around and feel like you’re missing out on something great. The only problem is that the grass really is never greener on the other side of the fence. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel like others might have better opportunities than you. Loving yourself means being content with your circumstances, no matter what they might be.

#2. Allow yourself to laugh. We all tend to take ourselves a little too seriously from time to time. Our thoughts sometimes demand that we take ourselves seriously. Instead of acting on each thought that you have or judging yourself on them, allow yourself to laugh at the sometimes ridiculous thoughts that you have. Life is supposed to be fun. You don’t always have to listen to the serious thoughts.

#3. Treat yourself right. It is easy to judge yourself harshly when you make a mistake. We all make mistakes. It’s going to happen. Instead of being your own worst critic, give yourself the opportunity to make things right by forgiving yourself. Being negative to the point where a person hates themselves does no one any good.

#4. Exist in each moment. It’s hard not to control everything around some days, but that’s what you’ve got to do. Let others drive the ship from time to time. This will allow you to focus more on the perfection of each moment and less on the tasks that are at hand.

#5. Make some time to meditate. Your body needs time to recharge. When you don’t get enough rest, then you start making decisions that are questionable at best. When your mind doesn’t get a break from stress and worry, then moods can become unstable and it may feel like you’re out of control. Just 20 minutes of meditation for 4 straight days can make a huge impact in your life.

#6. When in doubt, just breathe. A deep breath is always helpful. You can always come back to the task at hand after you’ve taken a moment or two. Focus on the process of the deep breath. Feel it fill your lungs and stay in control while you exhale. Keep focusing on this process and those tension knots in your back and neck might just release.

Happiness is really achievable for all of us. It is determined more by what we think than by what happens to us in life.  Start by developing good daily habits and positive thoughts to begin your journey to happiness now!

Meditation Allows You To Choose Happiness

happiness

Happy 2015! This is a world where a fast pace of life is almost demanded. A fast pace of life might be monetarily rewarding, but money can’t buy happiness. Only slowing down and choosing happiness can do that.

If you’re ready to get out of the fast lane for some time every day and slow the pace of life down, then here are some ways that you can use meditation to allow yourself the chance to choose happiness.

#1. Change the Focus of Your Results

We all stress ourselves out every day by trying to meet deadlines. It creates an enormous amount of pressure that creates negative emotions as a side effective. What if you took the approach of meeting a time-sensitive deadline and applied it to your routine of daily meditation? It would give you more time to meditate daily because it would become a higher priority. This change in focus forces a slower pace of life and that allows more perfect moments to be experienced.

#2. Let Life Unfurl In Real Time

Have you ever been so busy with a project that you completely lost track of time? You start to feel hungry after awhile, think that it’s time to get some lunch, and you look up to find that the clock says it’s 8pm instead. By making a little time for meditation, even if it is only 10 minutes during the day, you can keep track of those missed moments and enjoy the happiness that unfurls with every passing moment. Just the experience of a deep breath can connect you to a perfect, happy moment.

#3. Eliminate the Idea of Boredom

The #1 reason why people say that they don’t slow down is because a slower life is viewed as boring. A slower pace of life is just as busy as any other pace of life. The difference is in the perspective. Would you rather be “busy” trying to juggle 3 different projects at once while trying to make time for family or friends? Or would you rather be “busy” exploring the peace and joy that each moment is able to provide? It’s difficult to slow down when a fast pace of life has become habit, but when you do, you’ll be able to see all of the components of life that you’ve been missing in the fast lane.

#4. Take Care of Yourself

Although slowing life down seems uncomfortable, true discomfort comes from living a life in the fast lane. A fast life relies on unhealthy habits and defines them as success. Instead of deep, meaningful relationships, quick hitting unhealthy relationships are relied upon. Instead of a home-cooked meal, a fast food hamburger and a 64 ounce soda are consumed during the commute. We have fooled ourselves into thinking that we’re too busy to care for ourselves. We’re not that busy. Take care of yourself and you will find that time for meditation will be readily available.

#5. Change Your Personal Dynamic

You can’t be happy if you’re always treating yourself in a negative way. Don’t call yourself “stupid” or some other name. Mistakes happen. Forgive yourself.

By choosing meditation and time for yourself, you’re also making the first choice to experience true happiness. If you are willing to choose a slower pace of life, then you may just find that the experiences of life are more incredible than you could have ever imagined.

6 Ways To Be Happy

living an exceptional life

Does it seem like everyone else is happy, but you are stuck in misery? Rather than trying to find company for that misery, you can make the choice to be happy as well. Whether you are seeking a contented life, a meaningful life, or an engaged life where you can teach others how to make a difference in the world, happiness is something that can be yours… if you’re willing to give yourself the chance to achieve it. Here’s how those who are consistently happy are able to maintain their lives of happiness:

1. They keep the company of other happy people. People are always influenced by other people in everything they do, whether they realize it or not. When it comes to happiness, you have a greater chance of experiencing a higher level of overall happiness if the people around you are generally happy as well. Joy is as contagious as a yawn, so take a few moments and enjoy the company of some happy family and friends today.

2. They are authentic. How many times have you seen advice on how to help make other people happy? Fake smiles, working hard at appearances… this can help give an illusion of happiness, but people eventually see through an illusion. Genuine happiness and care for other people makes other people feel loved, which then makes them feel happy. A warm smile that you actually mean to give someone can go a long way towards mutual happiness.

3. They work for the good of others. Sometimes called a “helper’s high,” it feels good to lift someone else up. Some people who experience happiness routinely even have the perspective that life isn’t worth living if they aren’t helping someone else in some way every day! Volunteering time to help someone actually triggers parts of the brain that create joy, which means you feel rewarded when you sacrifice something of yourself to help someone else.

4. They don’t care about time… all the time. When an activity has clear goals for success, is engaging, and it is stimulating, it is easy to lose track of time. That’s why many people call the bathroom the only place where time truly stands still! When you’re taking a long bath with a book or a hot shower that helps you relax, you can let the world slip away for a while and it really doesn’t matter what happens during that time.

5. They actively listen to others. When you take a moment to really hear what others have to say, this helps to deepen whatever relationship you may have with that person. Actively listening is a skill that takes focus, memory, and attention in order to successfully complete. When done proactively, it communicates to people that you care for them and this makes them happy. Because happiness is so contagious, their joy can then become joy for you as well.

6. They embrace some form of spirituality. Of course every form of spirituality is going to claim that it is the one truth that must be embraced in this world, but a deeper truth is that you choose the spirituality that is right for you. There is no right or wrong answer, but people who find that their life has a deeper purpose to it in the long-term scheme of this universe are generally happier because there is meaning to their existence.

It’s true that you can be happier and it’s true that you can choose this happiness for yourself. Use these tips today to embrace more joy in your life and kick misery to the curb… for good!

7 Things You Can Do Today to Increase Your Happiness

Woman on tree swing smiling

Almost everyone would love to be happier. Luckily, science exists to help us figure out how to become both healthier and happier. These seven things are backed by scientific evidence proving that they can add to your level of happiness.

1. Get Up and Get Moving

Exercise can have a significant effect on your feelings of happiness and well-being. A recent study has proven that working out can help to boost your mood and reduce your anxiety levels as well. The “runner’s high” is often talked about, and many people suggest that exercise can be addictive.  This new study has shown that not only can exercise provide an immediate mood boost, the relief may be effective long-term. Some researchers have even suggested that psychologists, medical doctors, and counselors write exercise prescriptions that include advice for getting started and daily doses.

2. Get More Sleep

Sleep helps your body and mind repair themselves from the stresses of the day. Getting enough sleep is vital to your ability to focus and be productive. Now it turns out that scientists have discovered that getting the proper amount of sleep is vital to your happiness as well. As it turns out, taking that afternoon nap may make you less prone to suffering from negative emotions such as sadness, anger, and fear. #

3. Get Outside

As it turns out, spending some more time outside may be critical to becoming happier, but where you spend that time also matters. In fact, in a study conducted by the University of Sussex found that participants reported substantially higher levels of happiness when they spent time outdoors in natural environments than in urban environments. If possible, head to the beach, as these areas increase happiness by the highest amounts, followed by mountains, forests, and then farms.

4. Volunteer

Volunteering your time to help others can make you happier. According to a German study published in 2004, people became less happy when their opportunity to volunteer was taken away. This shows that volunteering your time in order to help improve the lives of others in a significant way can help to improve your own by making you naturally happier.

5. Smile (and Think Positive Thoughts)

The simple act of smiling can make you feel happier, but you can boost this effect by thinking positive thoughts to back it up. It’s not enough to simply fake a smile – this can actually make your mood worse according to a study led by researchers at Michigan State University. Instead, you need to back your smile up with positive thoughts or memories in order to improve your mood. This is particularly true for women – the study found that women who faked their smiles were more significantly harmed by the act than men.

6. Meditate

You’ve probably heard that meditation can help improve your focus and reduce your stress levels. As it turns out, meditation can also make you happier. A recent study has shown that by practicing mindful meditation for eight weeks can make measurable changes in your brain that effect how you feel about yourself, improve your memory, and lower your stress levels. In the study, participants practiced meditation exercises for an average of 27 minutes every day in order to achieve these measurable results.

7. Be Grateful

Remembering everything that you have to be thankful for can help increase your happiness as well. If you are married or in a relationship, sharing with your partner all the reasons you are thankful for them each day can actually improve your relationship as well. According to this recent study, making a point of paying attention to the things you are grateful for each day can actually improve your mood over the long term.

5 Tips for Finding Inner Peace

inner peace

Does it feel like your life is like a hurricane? Would you love to be able to find the calm that comes when you can be in the eye of the storm? It is possible to find inner peace that is truly blissful and it doesn’t have to be a chance encounter. You can really find inner piece consistently by utilizing these tips to your advantage.

Tip #1: Change Only What You Can

There are things that you can change and there are things you can’t change in your life. Take charge of the changes you can make and give yourself the freedom to let go of the things that you cannot change. You’re not experiencing failure if you let things go without putting your personal stamp on their reality. You’re experiencing forgiveness instead.

Tip #2: Enjoy the Outdoors

Being indoors isn’t a bad thing, but there are a lot of distractions that come from being inside all the time. How many times do you check your email when you’re not at work? Or look for social media notifications? Or browse mindlessly on the search engines because you don’t have anything better to do? Even 15 minutes in the outdoors, in a tranquil place, will eliminate the distractions and let you enjoy a higher level of inner peace.

Tip #3: Allow Yourself to Smile

There is good in everything around each one of us. Although we have to work to reject the bad things to sometimes see the good, we should rejoice in these good moments because they are truly precious. As we work to accept the good and reject the bad, you may just find that you’re also allowing yourself to smile more because you’re seeing the positive things happening around you instead of being stuck in a negative rut.

Tip #4: Take In This Moment

The past is history, buried in the seas of time to never be changed. The future is on the horizon before you, waiting for the choices that you’ll make in this moment right now. Will you choose to take in the joy of this moment and allow yourself to be content? Or will you let the worries about tomorrow creep in that you may not be able to control? Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, so take in this moment and enjoy it for the perfect moment it is.

Tip #5: Make Time To Meditate

Meditation can take a number of forms, from prayer to fasting to stillness. Find your inner peace by taking time to explore the events that have happened to you. Resolve inner conflicts and difficult emotions. Plan out your racing thoughts so you can focus on right now instead of 5 minutes from now. Even a deep breath will help you achieve a moment of stillness that you wouldn’t have had if you didn’t take a moment for yourself.

These 5 tips will help you achieve a level of inner peace from the first moment you try them. Begin implementing them starting today and you may just find a beautiful peace settling down on your soul.

6 Ways to Be Happy

Choose Happiness

Have you heard that happiness is a choice? It is a choice that you make everyday. Making that choice seems so easy for some people, doesn’t it? The reason why the choice of happiness is easier for some than it is for others is that there are ways you can cultivate happiness and have it grow in your life every day. Here’s how you can make that become your reality too!

1. Live a Healthy Life

What goes in is what is going to come out. If your focus is on junk food, snacks, sodas, and high caloric content foods, you’re only cultivating short-term happiness. To cultivate long-term happiness, focus on eating right, drinking enough water, and taking care of yourself with a little exercise every day. A better diet can even reduce your risks of future health risks, which potentially means a longer life!

2. Lose a Little Weight If Needed

Doctors hound people to lose weight because they know that even a 10% drop in weight can lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels dramatically. Less weight also generally increases self-confidence, which is one of the building blocks of happiness! Don’t go on a crash diet because that can increase your risks of certain health issues, particularly gallstones. Trying to lose a pound or two each month and take satisfaction in the process instead!

3. Find Contentment

Without contentment, we’re constantly striving to have more, be more, buy more, do more, work harder, or work smarter so that we can be someone “better.” The problem is that once “better” is achieved, there’s a new “better” to achieve and so the cycle never ends. Those caught in that cycle struggle with happiness for one simple reason: they never really are satisfied. The more we find a way to be content with our current circumstances, the more we’re able to experience happiness.

4. Be Patient

By demanding that happiness must occur, the result is that happiness will flee. Be patient and happiness will come to you in its own time, when it’s ready. While you’re waiting for it to arrive, you have the perfect opportunity to practice being content in your current circumstances.

5. Be Generous

The modern concept of karma is that what goes around comes back around. In that spirit, by being generous to others and working to increase their happiness, the same will eventually come around to you. A life well lived is a life where others are loved just as much as one loves themselves, which means sometimes putting others, even strangers, ahead of you on the priority list. Although there’s no guarantee for a return, of course, there is something pleasant about changing someone’s life for the better, even if it’s just in some small way.

6. Find the Positive in Everything

It’s easy to find problems. It’s not as easy to find the good in every situation. Misery loves company, so the more negativity you seek to find, the more miserable you’re likely to become. Find the positive in even the worst of situations and you’ll discover that happiness could be right around the corner.

Being happy might be a choice, but we’ve got to cultivate that choice so that it can appear when we need it to be there. By following these examples, happiness really can be easier to find!

Find the Perfect Moment in Every Moment of the Day

Young woman on tree swing

There’s no denying that we all want to be happy with our lives. Of course, in reading this, there is a certain level of comparative happiness that each of us has without ever realizing it. Just because others might be envious of our lives, however, doesn’t mean that we’re inevitably happy with our own circumstances. We seek out happiness in having perfect relationships, perfect jobs, or even the perfect home, but what if we’re looking at the scale too big to truly find happiness?

What if all we needed to do was to look for the perfection that each moment holds? If that perfection could be found, would it lead to an increase in overall happiness?

Be Content In Each Moment

Happiness might seem like it comes from perfection, but it really originates from being content within each moment that occurs. Moments are like snowflakes: no two are exactly alike! Each is perfect in its own way, but that perfection might not be in the exact way we want it to be. Instead of trying to manipulate each moment to meet our standards, trying being content in the inherent perfection each moment holds so that something new can always be discovered. You just might find more happiness there!

Explore Each Moment With an Open Mind

Our preconceived notions get us all in a lot of trouble, including sadness and even anger. Instead of closing off your mind when you encounter a moment that doesn’t meet your expectations of perfection, explore that moment to see what it offers. By allowing for diversity, what we’re really doing is allowing learning opportunities to occur. It is in those opportunities that each of us learns, grows, and finds a deeper overall happiness.

Allow Yourself To Be Out of Control

There’s this thought that if we can all control the moments that come our way, we’ll somehow be able to manipulate them to fit our own purpose. What ends up happening, however, is often regret and pain because let’s face it – the only thing that we can ultimately control is ourselves. Because of this, you can allow yourself to be out of control in specific moments so that the perfection of that moment may become evident. When that occurs, you might be at the mercy of some other power, but you may just have a happier experience for it!

Use Moments To Lend a Helping Hand

Sometimes the perfection of a moment isn’t about us. Instead, it could be about someone else close to you, an acquaintance, or even the stranger you just came across on the street. By focusing moments toward the help that can be provided to other people, we can experience a different kind of perfection that brings about a deeper level of happiness. It’s a happiness in the knowledge that we made an effort to eliminate someone else’s negativity.

Negative Moments Aren’t Necessarily Imperfect Moments

As a final thought, we all often associate negativity with imperfection and that makes us unhappy. What if we could explore those negative moments to see what kind of teaching moments could be there? Some of the greatest character-building traits come in losing instead of winning and that character is what can give someone the resilience to dust themselves off, stand back up, and declare that they will not be defeated!

Happiness comes in many forms and the many moments we face every day are perfect in their own unique way. Find that perfection, reflect upon it, and ultimately that will lead to a much happier life overall.

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