Before I give you the 5 exercises I just want to outline a flaw that I think a large proportion of the human race are suffering from. And that is that we allow circumstances to dictate how we feel. This article is going to be based around that elusive thing that so many of us are chasing………Happiness! We often expect that when our circumstances change that we will finally reach a higher state of being and it is just not true.
For example When I pay off my mortgage, I will be happy. When I get a pay raise, I will be happy. When I finally meet my soul mate, I will be happy. If I can beat this illness, I will be happy. If I can get into better shape, I will be happy. If I can just get the respect I deserve, I will be happy.
Now I am here to make a bold statement and say I think we have been living in reverse for a very long time. And maybe if you can reverse this way of thinking you will be able to not only overcome problems. But to actually create lasting happiness in your life.
The truth is when you are happy you are more productive, more creative and more intuitive and this leads to be more likely to be able to pay off the mortgage, get a pay raise, meet your soulmate, get healthy and get the respect you deserve. And with these 5 exercises some commitment and consistency I think you can do just that.
Gratitude is a way of saying you are thankful and that you appreciate something you have received or will receive. Gratitude has only recently started to be studied (around the year 2000) with traditional psychology mainly focusing on understanding distress rather than understanding positive emotions. But with the recent positive psychology movement, gratitude has become a mainstream focus of psychological research. In a study by American researchers Emmons and McCullough, they told 3 groups of adults to keep a daily journal.
Group 1 noted things they were grateful for. Group 2 noted things that annoyed them Group 3 noted reasons why they were better off than others. The young adults assigned to keep gratitude journals showed greater increases in determination, attention, enthusiasm and energy compared to the other groups. So in short gratitude can help you to reach your goals. It can increase your determination, attention, enthusiasm and energy. And when you read between the lines you will be able to see the true power of gratitude.
Benefits of gratitude-
- Better quality of life or to realize the quality of your life.
- More efficiency
- Increased motivation
Meditation is the art of being able to sit in peace, clear your mind and transcend into a deeper state of being. When in this state you can really tap into your intuition and find the answer to a lot of the questions that you need answering.
Meditation is a time to turn off and to use a new age analogy it is like rebooting a computer when it overheats. There are numerous studies that have proven meditation to be an effective solution for numerous problems like stress, anxiety, confidence issues, shyness and even conditions like depression and schizophrenia (to name just a few). It has also been linked to improving numerous physical illnesses and has been used as natural pain relief for centuries.
It can help you to make better decisions and really tap into your inner genius which we all have. The most fascinating study that I have come across is that meditation actually slows down the ageing of your brain and increases its size. A 2005 study on American men and women who meditated daily showed that they had thicker cortical walls than non meditators.
What this meant is that their brains were aging at a slower rate. Cortical thickness is also associated with decision making, attention and memory.
- Benefits of meditation
- Higher state of awareness (more enjoyment from what you see, your food, sexual relationships etc.)
- Slowing down of the aging process both physically and mentally
- More freedom and happiness
- More confidence and the ability to connect deeply with people who you share common ground with
- More awareness
- More Motivation
- Improved physical and mental health
This is when you keep a journal or diary to express how you are feeling and also to help you to work out you want out of life. It also works well as something to look back on from time to time. The reason for this is sometimes it feels like you are not progressing but when you reflect on a journal you can see how far you have come.
Everything starts as a thought and to see it turned into a reality is a pretty amazing thing. Journaling allows you to look back on last year’s thoughts that are now a reality and this is a very satisfying feeling.
Benefits of journaling
- To be able to unload your problems and then look at them from a different perspective
- The feeling of accomplishment when you are looking back on a thought that is now a reality
- To inform you of your thought patterns and to encourage more positive patterns
- A more efficient and productive lifestyle
Acts Of Kindness
Can acts of kindness really make you happy? Well In 2005 Stanford University psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky decided to put this to the test. She asked students to carry out five weekly “random acts of kindness” of their choice, anything from buying food for a homeless person to helping a family member with some work.
The students reported higher levels of happiness than a control group, with students who performed all five kind acts in one day reaping the biggest rewards by the end of the six-week study period.
Previous trials have found that unselfish people tend to be happier, but Lyubomirsky’s was the first to establish that good deeds are actually the direct cause of an increase in well-being.
Benefits of acts of kindness
- The sense of satisfaction you get from helping others
- The satisfaction you give to others by helping them
- A great way to make new connections
- Increased happiness levels resulting in lower stress and anxiety
We all know that physically movement is good for us. Human beings are made to move and it is not just beneficial but really essential for a good quality of life. But for today I am not going to talk about it from a physical standpoint but a psychological one.
Now before I go into the research I just want to make you aware that movement or exercise does not have to be a time consuming thing. If you enjoy it by all means exercise until your heart’s content. But for those of you who are not keen you can see benefits from as little as 5 minutes a day.
In 1990 a research team of psychologists discovered that exercise worked as an effective antidepressant both short and long term. This research was followed up in 1999 and 2000 testing 3 groups of people who suffered from depression. Group 1 were prescribed just exercise Group 2 were prescribed antidepressants Group 3 were prescribed a mixture of the 2 These same patients were contacted six months after the original study and the first group who were prescribed just the exercise were more likely to be partially or fully recovered than those who were in the other 2 groups.
The reason behind this is when you exercise your brain releases feel good chemicals it also increases cell growth in the hippocampus (an area of the brain responsible for learning and memory). So just making a few small movements on a daily basis can have a massive impact on your happiness levels.
Benefits of movement
- A higher level of focus
- Increased confidence
- Body detoxification
- Improved mental health
- Improved physical health
Now I know this may seem like a lot of things to do but from a starting point you can do all of these things successfully and see a big change in your happiness levels for just 17 minutes of your time a day. This does mean building a habit, which can often cause a mental block, but if you can pass that and do it consistently you will see a positive change in your life.
- Gratitude 2 mins
- Meditation 5 mins
- Journaling 5 mins
- Movement 5 mins
- Random acts of kindness as and when the situation arises
I wrote this article due to the positive impact meditation, gratitude, journaling, exercise and random acts of kindness have had on my life. I hope you find them as useful as I have! Please share this article on your social media and with anyone you think will benefit from it!
IMAGE CREDIT:dizanna / 123RF Stock Photo
I am Luke Miller the author of this article and creator of Potential For Change. I like to blend psychology and spirituality to help you create more happiness in your life.Grab a copy of my free 33 Page Illustrated eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control Here
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