Mindfulness. Research has shown that this is one of the best paths to happiness. I have a hard time with this for a lot of reasons. For one I’m very skeptical, I want to see hard research that has been peer reviewed and replicated. I want to know how statistically significant the results are and I want to understand the methodology of the studies. I have my psych degree to thank for that. Secondly I’m very skeptical. I have just never bought into this peace and love granola crunchy hippy yoga lifestyle. In fact if you’d like to send me off into a rant good key words are things like alternative, natural, homeopathic, or holistic. Mindfulness, for me, immediately brings forward the idea of meditation. Which seems hocus to me. Yoga, to me for example, should be about developing flexibility and strength not meditation.
However I see now this topic has been scientifically studied and it has been validated that mindfulness is in fact a major contributor to happiness and that this skill can be acquired through meditation.
Since learning this fact I have tried to set my judgements aside and trust science and develop the skill of being mindful.
What does that mean? It means I am trying to learn how to stay in the moment. To be present. This means I’m not focusing on what I’m doing for dinner or thinking about the weekend. It means I’m not dwelling about the past or day dreaming about the future. Yes these things have their time and place but 9 times out of 10 it’s just better to stay in the moment.
I have been working on developing this skill for just over a year and since returning to work I feel like I’ve finally figured it out.
I absolutely love my job. 3 weeks on and I feel like I have been there forever. It’s just a great fit. It keeps me busy and I don’t have a lot of idle time. I spend hours a day interviewing clients and my job depends on me being present and paying attention to what they are saying so I can reciprocate with meaningful and intelligent questions and statements. When I am at work I am just at work.
Then I go home and I see this adorable face.
And I think to myself my goodness I am so blessed. How on earth did I get so lucky as to have such an amazing happy son. My job allows me to leave my work at work. When I’m home I can be present with my son and my husband. Whether we are playing games, eating, snuggling, napping or sleeping I am there. It’s an amazing feeling.
I’m not stressed about work or finances. I’m not worried about what we will eat. I’m not focusing on previous awful jobs or bad friendships. I’m just here. Today. Soaking every minute of life up.
When you spend your days conversing with people who have known indescribable heartache and challenges, who have battled addiction, lived on the streets, are surrounded with abuse it makes it easy to be grateful for what you have.
My life is by no means perfect but you know what I just don’t care anymore. I am so blessed and today right now this exact second in time I am here. I’m paying attention to my dog chewing his rawhide, the TV babbling in the background. I’m aware of the slight chill I feel as I’m ready to climb into my pj’s at 842 on a Saturday night. I’m aware that my hands slightly hurt from holding the phone. I hear my husband laugh at the TV. My ears are always up listening for my son to wake up. my mouth still tastes of delicious lindt chocolate and I am sinfully craving another piece. I’m here. I’m present. I’ve never been happier.
I dare you to try it. Set an alarm for 5 minutes and just focus. What do you hear? What do you see? What do you taste? What do you smell? What do you feel? Just focus. It’s hard at first. Your mind will wander. But it gets easier. I’ve been practicing this skill for a while now. And while it completely goes against all things science to say it works for me so it will work for you I will say this. The studies are out there. The proof is there. Mindfulness is an effective strategy to become happier. And at least for me, it hasn’t been an easy skill to develop but I am so grateful I took the time and energy to learn. If you don’t know where to start watch some meditation videos on YouTube, try yoga, try the activity I just suggested with the 5 minute alarm. Take deep breathes and just stay present. It’s truly magical. I don’t want to miss my son growing up simply because my mind was too busy to just focus on him and be here with him.