What’s the ultimate goal in life? Just about every answer that anyone gives you boils down to, happiness.
Happiness is the foundation for the majority of our decisions in life, but how many of us can honestly say that we are truly happy in life. Not many. In what way can we find true fulfillment in the everyday situations of life.
The answer? Mindfulness.
First of all, what exactly is mindfulness? Mindfulness is just the ability to bring our awareness back to the present moment. It’s a way to be fully here, experiencing life as it happens, rather than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.
It’s a way to find fulfillment in even the most mundane tasks in life. Being content no matter what life throws at us, isn’t this the true meaning of happiness? True unconditional happiness day in and day out is what life is all about.
Now true happiness isn’t an abstract concept anymore. It isn’t something that only successful people attain. It’s a real, actionable state of being which can be cultivated through mindfulness meditation.
Why happiness isn’t widespread
You might ask, if it’s that simple then why isn’t it widespread? The reason is because of modern businesses. According to CBS News, we’re being exposed to as many as 5,000 ads a day. Let that sink in for a bit.
Now think about what the goal of these advertisements are.
The goal of an advertisement is to make you feel unhappy with your current way of life and think that you can find happiness by purchasing their product.
So 5,000 times a day we’re being told that we’re unhappy unless we buy all these material items. No wonder mindfulness and finding happiness in the present moment aren’t widespread.
But if you cut through all the distractions, the truth remains: massive amounts of joy and happiness can be attained through the mere act of living in the present moment.
Now I know, but what can I do
It’s one thing to theorize about happiness and it’s another thing to take action on it. Exactly what actions can one take to increase fulfillment in life.
The single most important habit to create in order to be happier is meditation.
The practice of Mindfulness Meditation involves bringing ourselves back to the present moment.
How to Meditate
Meditation is actually very simple. Here’s how to meditate.
Step 1: Set a Timer
A timer is a must when meditating. It allows you to become completely engrossed in the action of meditating without worrying about how long you’ve been meditating.
Step 2: Get Comfortable
The common stereotype relating to meditation is that you must sit on the ground in the full lotus position while making the “Om” sound. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
To start out, get in a comfortable position. Maybe in a chair or even on a couch, with your back upright.
Step 3: Close your eyes and Follow the Breath
Simple close your eyes. And as you close your eyes start becoming aware of the various sensations involved with breathing. Whether it’s the rise and fall of the chest or the air entering and exiting the nostril, it doesn’t matter.
As long as you’re focused on the act of breathing.
Step 4: What to do with thought
In general, when you start meditating your mind will wander off very often. If you find your mind wandering off or thinking, gently bring your attention back to the breath.
It’s important to not get caught up in the amount of time that you have been thinking. Often you will waste the majority of the session thinking.
With practice, the amount of time that you are lost in thought will steadily decrease, and thus your ability to live in the present moment will steadily increase.
Step 5: Calmly become aware of the present moment
Finally, after you’ve successfully followed the breath for a decent amount of time, start to become aware of the various experiences comprising the present moment.
Here are some examples:
Feel into the sensations of sitting: Become aware of the pressure of your feet on the ground and your butt on the cushion.
Become aware of the sounds around you: Start to notice all of the sounds entering your awareness. Notice that you don’t have to do anything, just let the sounds enter your eardrums.
Become aware of the various sensation in your body: Whether pleasant or unpleasant, start to become aware of the sensations in the body. Whether it’s the itch on your back, the feeling that your face is tensed up or anger subsiding in your chest.
Johnson, Caitlin. “Cutting Through Advertising Clutter.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 17 Sept. 2006, www.cbsnews.com/news/cutting-through-advertising-clutter/.