07 Jun Enjoy more happiness with these 3 mindfulness rituals
via Eric Barker
Why is it so hard to be happy all the time? Why can’t our lives be more like the joyous families in insurance commercials and less like the lives of people making insurance claims?
So what does the research say can make us happier? Mindfulness. It comes from Buddhism but we won’t be discussing religion here. We’ll be looking at ACT: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, as detailed in Russ Harris’ wonderful book The Happiness Trap.
This is the scientifically-distilled version of mindfulness. Vetted, tested, with air shocks and spinning rims. No chanting, no monk robes necessary. (Which is good, because as we all know, saffron is so not my color.)
From The Happiness Trap:
ACT (pronounced like the word “act”) was developed in the United States by psychologist Steven Hayes and his colleagues, Kelly Wilson and Kirk Strosahl. ACT has been astoundingly effective in helping people with a wide range of problems from depression and anxiety to chronic pain and even drug addiction.
Okay, to the point: Why is it so damn hard to stay happy? Well, the first reason is because we believe a number myths about what happiness is. Time to fix that.
Let’s get to it…
The 4 Happiness Myths
Myth 1: “Happiness Is the Natural State for All Human Beings”
Sorry, that’s just naive. The human brain’s default state is not “bliss.” Anyone who has spoken to me in the morning before I’ve had caffeine knows this.
But advertising, Facebook, and big parts of our culture reinforce this myth on a near-constant basis. You’ve met people who are super happy all the time and, let’s be honest here: they kinda creep you out.
We all have ups and downs. That’s normal and natural. But thinking you’re supposed to be ecstatic 24/7 is a waterslide into myth #2…
Myth 2: “If You’re Not Happy, You’re Defective”
We feel like if there’s anything wrong with life than there must be something wrong with us. And so we scramble to “fix” ourselves because this can’t be right…
Myth 3: “To Create a Better Life, We Must Get Rid of Negative Feelings”
Everyone else feels great all the time (pro tip: no, they don’t) so we should too. And then we’re running headlong into…
Myth 4: “You Should Be Able to Control What You Think and Feel”
We have reached our final destination. Please take your belongings from the overhead bins and exit to your left.
We all spend a lot of time trying to control what we think and feel. Do me a favor: don’t think about bears… How’d that go?
Oh, and next time you’re sad why don’t you just “snap out of it.” How well does that work?
Of course, neither do. We can’t control what we think or feel – at least not so directly and immediately. Sure, we can influence these things — but control? Nope.
And so we’re often struggling to change what we can’t. And this just fuels the fire of these emotions as we struggle with them. We end up with anxiety about our anxiety, anger about our depression and depression about our anger layered on top of one another like some mental health version of “Inception.”
Or we do things to muscle our thoughts and feelings into compliance (procrastination, drinking, etc.) that offer short-term improvement of our feelings, but in the long-term take us away from our goals and values.
This is not the path to a happy life. This is the happiness trap.
You’re not going to feel good all the time. Sorry. And you can’t directly and immediately control your thoughts and feelings as easily as you change the background image on your smartphone.
But that’s okay. Defining happiness as sheer unrelenting non-opiate-fueled-bliss is absurd. We have the happiness definition wrong. Happiness should mean a rich, full and meaningful life — and that includes ups and downs.
From The Happiness Trap:
The other far less common meaning of happiness is “living a rich, full, and meaningful life.” When we take action on the things that truly matter deep in our hearts, move in directions that we consider valuable and worthy, clarify what we stand for in life and act accordingly, then our lives become rich and full and meaningful, and we experience a powerful sense of vitality. This is not some fleeting feeling—it is a profound sense of a life well lived. And although such a life will undoubtedly give us many pleasurable feelings, it will also give us uncomfortable ones, such as sadness, fear, and anger. This is only to be expected. If we live a full life, we will feel the full range of human emotions.
(To learn more about how you and your children can lead a successful life, check out my bestselling book here.)
Now that’s all fine and dandy — but how do we get out of this trap for good?
We need to think differently about thinking…
…keep reading the full & original article HERE