How to Be Happy

REFOCUSING ATTENTION:

  • Our culture teaches us to be good complainers
  • Many of us have learned to focus on the negatives

The first step toward increasing the amount of pleasure in our lives has nothing to do with changing the external circumstances in which we live. It has to do with where we are putting our attention. Most of us don’t realize that we can learn to control where we put our attention. Many of us have even developed the habit of paying attention to ONLY to negative events and experiences. We need to learn how to retrain our attention to notice and savor the positive experiences in our lives. Taking responsibility for where we are putting our attention is the first step.

  • How much time do you spend focused on NEGATIVE experiences or feelings?
  • How much time do you spend focused on POSITIVE experiences or feelings?

Learning to train our attention to notice and savor the positive experiences in our lives is a tremendous gift to ourselves. By giving our attention only to negative experiences and feelings, we overlook and miss out on all the positive and beautiful things that are ALREADY HAPPENING in our lives. At first you may not be used to focusing on positive experiences as they happen, but as you train your attention to notice these events you may find yourself experiencing them with even greater enjoyment and awareness.

  • The next time you eat an ice cream cone, be intensely mindful of the full experience.
  • What can you notice? Pay attention to each sense involved: sight, smell, taste, touch

Obviously if we are not fully present during positive experiences, we can miss out on their full enjoyment. Have you ever noticed yourself drifting off and thinking about tomorrow’s meeting or yesterday’s mistake while having dinner with your spouse or spending time with your children? We can miss even the most meaningful and enjoyable experiences if we are lost in our thoughts about the past or future. Learning how to remain fully present allows us to enjoy life at a deeper level.

  • What are some common distractions that keep you from being fully present?

 

COLLECTING HAPPINESS EXERCISE:

Set aside 10 minutes at the end of every day to look back over your day and identify 5 things that happened that left you feeling happy, peaceful, or fulfilled. Write down your list in a journal.

 

GRATITUDE EXERCISE:

Every morning when you wake up before you get out of bed take a few minutes and find 3 things to be grateful for.  You will be amazed at the tone this sets for your morning, and what an impact this small habit of periodically taking time to be grateful can have on the quality of your day. 

A Meditative Moment

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