We have the apparatus to be happy, says Dan Gilbert, author of “Stumbling on Happiness.”
His study found is that our frontal lobe helps us create a psychological immune system to fabricate happiness anytime we want. What are the applications of this study for us chasing happiness everyday of our lives?
Happiness is not linked to outcomes. “Happiness is not a thing to be found,” says Gilbert. It doesn’t matter if you get this particular job or find that particular relationship. Any other possible outcome can make us feel as happy as the one we really focused on in the first place.
The wisdom here is that changing goals or taking a different route from the one you envisioned would not make you less happy.
Or we could say that atttachment and ungrounded expectations could lead to unnecessary disappointments. Having a more relaxed view of things and of life in general, and having flexibility will surely lead to more happiness.
Having too much freedom to choose or change, says Gilbert is the enemy to happiness. This is definitely a shocking revelation, right? But it is exactly what this study found. Our psychological immune system works best when you have limited choices, for example when we are married. So if you are married and feel unhappy, maybe you could reconsider your happiness quotient, add a few more grateful things to the bin, and change your view about the alternative options to more happiness.
The idea however of reducing your options frees you to make better choices with less stress and can, in fact, lead to greater fulfillment.
Another point the author makes is that having too much ungrounded passion and ambition in life can lead to disastrous results. I think that we can find plenty of examples in all walks of life to demonstrate this statement. Gilbert cites Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, to support his argument.
But the main point here is that nothing in life is as important as keeping your integrity intact. Anytime you have to lie or cheat, or compromise your values, you are taking the risky road of becoming unhappy.
When we understand that happiness is not a goal or a thing but originating in our own physiological makeup, we can empower ourselves to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives.This is a very wise study supporting the idea that we create our own happiness.
We need to understand being mindful as being more aware and acting with more presence and awareness.
The purpose of mindfulness is to expand our awareness of our behavior and our role in our environment.
Mindfulness has become such a hot topic because we have disconnected our minds from our bodies, so much and so often. We continue to technologically over-connect to the growing cyber-worlds, and over-develop our analytical abilities in the navigating of it.
As a result, we frequently disconnect from our core selves, from the messages of our body and from the subtle messages of nature.
Mindfulness leads to a more holistic way of living where we are in sync with ourselves and nature. We become better people, we develop spiritually in mindfulness and we learn to balance our material demands with the guidance of our spirits.
But how do we get there?
Any course on mindfulness will set you on the path to mindfulness.
You need to learn the techniques and you need to practice.
When you commit to change, you have to find the time to spend with yourself. You will need to slow down and close your eyes. Even a 10 minutes of breathing exercises will make you aware of your body.
Think of mindfulness meditation as giving a gift to yourself. You are giving loving care to your body and soul. You are increasing your awareness, and you are establishing a more solid connection with yourself.
You are also increasing your self-healing abilities, changing your perceptions, and increasing your joy.
Life will slowly start revealing itself in different ways. What looked like grey, might start looking like green? What bothered you, will no longer bother you. Life will become easier. The way you deal with daily challenges will be less aggravating. You will slowly start forgiving others and accepting your experiences without emotional charge.
The moments and days you spend in mindfulness-present time will be longer and fuller, because you will start living with more joy.
The regular practice of slowing down and seeking a deeper connection to yourself is a work between you and you. When you start approving of yourself, loving yourself and making a difference in the lives of people, you will be firmly on the mindful path.
There is no end to it. All your life you will be starting over and over, and discovering more and more wisdom.
Is it worth it? Absolutely.
Mindfulness practice is a great way to dive into and savor the world of our greatest human possibilities, and explore its far reaches.
The essence of mindfulness is simple as well, just Be Here Now.
Most people would probably agree that our world needs empathy.
The dictionary defines empathy as the action and the capacity of understanding, being aware of, and being sensitive to the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another person.
As humans we are wired to be empathetic because we can feel our own pain, thus the pain of other human beings or animals. We can deeply understand their distress. But if we are wired for empathy, why so many people lack empathy?
One might argue that our culture – with its emphasis on mental and technological progress – has cut us off from our emotions and our bodies. We spend most of our time thinking, analyzing and not really listening to the silent messages of the heart and body. Because we spend so much time on our computers and at our desks, we can easily become isolated in our heads, and that means less time in person or within real life communities.
Psychologists talk of three types of empathy. Cognitive empathy is when you can put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. We cognitively understand what they are going through. Though this is important, it is not enough.
Emotional empathy is when you feel and sympathize with the feelings and emotions of others. We need this capacity to maintain relationships and friendships. But emotional empathy can be treacherous for sensitive people. Taking in, into your body, somebody’s else emotions and pain – can cause you to become ill.
I heard a radio host yesterday apologizing for not talking about the tragedy in Texas. She explained it like this… “I feel too much pain. I am in an overload of pain after months of tragedies. I can’t go there.”
Feeling the pain of others is an essential component of good health. But it is important to be able to separate one’s emotions from other people’s emotions. And this can be difficult for a lot of people.
To have healthy empathy, we must transition into Compassion. With compassion we understand and we feel for someone else, but we also understand that we need to stay whole in order to be a healthy and helpful resource for others. Compassion is felt more in the heart. It is an invisible silent thread that is felt between people. We are extending our heart to someone else’s heart.
Compassionate people are in control of their emotions. They can be very helpful in bringing about wise solutions. They are helpful with their sheer and trustworthy presence.
So to increase empathy and compassion, I would suggest to start with yourself.
Ask yourself how much empathy you have for yourself? Are you hard and unforgiving of yourself? Do you feel a lot of guilt all the time? Self-reflect and meditate on yourself often.
Also, remember episodes where you lacked empathy for others? Were you afraid or unware? Always ask why and wait for the answers to emerge from deep silence. There is no need to go into the past. But by remembering your aha moments of your past, you can illuminate your future.
Changing ourselves is a process. The most important thing is to be committed to transformation and to realize that your most important task on this planet is to become more human and to be of service.