by Simon Henry @simlington
Happiness is one of those things that increases the more you share it.
When you make other people happy, you get happier too.
Unlike nits, political opinions or holiday photos, sharing happiness has no victims.
Tell a joke, give a present, call someone out of the blue. These are simple ways to make someone else happier.
(Unless the joke’s really offensive to the listener, you’re re-gifting something really rubbish, or you call the wrong number.)
If any of the above apply to you, you probably need more specialist help than I can offer.
‘Share and Enjoy’
This is a song from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so the concept must be sound.
So, I’m going to share a way for you to enjoy things more and be a bit happier. Then, when you’re happier, I’ll feel happier too.
And you’ll feel so happy, you’ll want to share it with others. And when they’re happier, you’ll feel happier – and so I’ll feel happier.
A pyramid scheme of joy with no innocent victims – just everyone feeling a bit happier.
Try it and share it. Who knows where it could end?
Mindfulness the feline way
An easy, cheap and simple way to make yourself a bit happier is through mindfulness.
So what is mindfulness? Does it hurt? And aren’t our minds already full – of passwords, quotes from The Simpsons and other 21st century stuff?
The next time you watch a cat murdering a mouse, you’ll see its whole attention is fixed on the job in hand.
It isn’t regretting the bird that escaped its clutches yesterday. And it’s not worrying about being knocked over tomorrow.
All it cares about is getting maximum value from torturing this mouse in this present moment.
The past and the future are irrelevant.
And apart from Grumpy Cat, you don’t see a sad cat.
I’m not even sure Grumpy Cat is sad – he’s a millionaire and probably gets fed sirloin steaks and lean chicken.
Mindfulness for humans
As humans, we spend much of our time anywhere but in the present moment.
Things from my distant past and non-existent future that I waste time on include:
– Failing my grade 5 double bass exam. (This happened in 1987 and had no impact whatsoever on my life.)
– What I’d do if I found someone threatening to jump off a cliff. (I don’t live near any cliffs.)
There are thousands more but I won’t bore you. I’ll save them for my psychiatrist.
You will have your own examples of ridiculous ‘mithering’. (Making a fuss, moaning. 17th century origins, Northern England.)
Mindfulness teaches you to keep your mind in the present moment.
This means you can appreciate what’s going on right now instead of drifting off to regrets about the past or worries about the future.
It means if things are going well you can appreciate them fully – and feel even more smug than you were before.
If they’re not going well, you can clearly see what’s wrong – and actually do something positive to change things for the better.
So how can you start being more mindful?
Find a bit of peace and quiet, close your eyes and concentrate on your breath going in and out. Don’t force the breath – just let it go in and out by itself.
And notice where you can feel the breath – your belly may go in and out, perhaps you feel it in your nostrils, or your ribs.
If you can’t feel it anywhere you may be dead, so you’d better call a doctor.
This sounds really easy doesn’t it?
But I guarantee after about 30 seconds, your mind will wander to a worry, or a memory or something else that’s not happening right now.
When you realise you’re not actually thinking about your breath, just escort your mind back to the breath. You’re not being stupid or doing it wrong.
It happens to everyone. The mind is like an untrained dog – it’ll sniff around all over the place unless you give it some lessons. You don’t want your mind going where a dog’s nose goes, now do you?
Alternatively, you might just fall asleep. (This is what the cat does after it’s tortured and killed the mouse.)
Do this mindfulness practice every day for 10 or 15 minutes and you should feel happier, more contented and calmer. And you’ll find yourself naturally appreciating the present moment even when you’re not doing the meditation.
It may take a few months or years – and even if nothing appears to happen, the quarter of an hour you give yourself each day is time that’s just yours. What a lovely present to give yourself.
Here are some lovely experts to help you
Jon Kabat-Zin is one of the world’s top experts. A wonderful introduction to the subject.
Vidyamala Burch and Danny Penman have written a book called Mindfulness for Health that can help you if you’re stressed or even if you’re in physical pain.
Pema Chodron is a very kind Buddhist nun who just wants to make the world a happier place. Her talks aren’t religious at all. If they were I’d run a mile.
I’d recommend getting them on Audible – the audio versions of their books have exercises that can help to keep you awake while you’re trying to meditate.
And here are some extra free mantras – your reward for reading all the way down here.
If you enjoyed this, you may like my post that contains some of the best jokes known to humankind.
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Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014