Step Three: Live for the moment
In all of my happiest memories I was totally absorbed and engaged in the moment. These moments were so crystal clear it is as if I had experienced them with eyes which were seeing for the very first time. Amazingly, we can all learn to develop this close relationship to the present moment. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the man responsible for bringing mindfulness meditation into the mainstream medical arena, defines mindfulness as ‘The awareness that emerges when we learn to pay attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally to things as they are.’ Mindfulness has been found to reduce stress, anxiety and depression and to help us better deal with pain. It also serves to help us fully immerse ourselves in the moment and allows us to develop a sense of appreciation and gratitude, both essential components of a happier life.
Step Four: Exercise and diet
A healthy lifestyle is vital to our happiness. Exercise not only depletes the stress hormone cortisol, it also releases endorphins that give us a feeling of overall well being. Although we feel the benefits immediately after exercising, for a more long lasting effect it is recommended that we engage in three thirty minute sessions throughout the week.
The food we eat directly affects our production of serotonin, the chemical which causes us to have feelings of contentment and happiness, and so a healthy diet is essential in fostering a happy life. Good sources of the amino acid tryptophan (which makes serotonin in the brain) are milk, bananas, peanuts and chicken. Seeds and nuts also produce GABA which aids our relaxation and apples actually improve our memory.
Step Five: Our support network of friends and family
As most of us would probably suspect, strong relationships with friends and family greatly increase our levels of happiness. This doesn’t mean we need tonnes of friends but simply that we have high quality relationships with the friends and family we do have. Taking the time to call and meet up with friends and family is paramount as it gives us a feeling of connectedness and belonging. Having regular social contact helps us to draw on support when we need it and allows us to be more resilient.
Learn the final steps six and seven next week!
Which of the three steps this week could you improve upon? What have you decided to integrate into your daily life? Please comment and share your experiences with our community to gain insight, encouragement and support.
- Mindfulness Meditation: Buy Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Guided Mindfulness CD Series.
- Diet and exercise: Integrate some of the foods mentioned into your daily diet and choose a form of exercise to engage in two or three times per week (even if it’s only walking).
- Our support network of friends and family: Meet up with at least one friend this week and keep in touch with family either in person or by phone.
‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin, available on Amazon
‘The Happiness Project One Sentence Journal: A Five Year Record’ by Gretchen Rubin, available on Amazon
‘GUIDED Mindfulness CD Series’ by Jon Kabat-Zinn, available on Amazon
www.tasterlab.com – a full local directory of taster classes for various hobbies
www.sleepio.com – an online course which has been proven to improve sleep