Photo by Ryan McGuire on Gratisography
4 Essential Steps To Getting Happy in the Moment
It is said that the key to the Good Life is to live in the present moment. It sounds so simple and yet for most of us we find ourselves constantly living in the future or past, running around trying to get everything “right” with our lives. What if you could catch yourself before you go down the rabbit hole of discontent and shift your mindset?
Just the other day I noticed myself quickening my pace, trying to hurry through the last of my errands so I could finally get to my treasured destination, the beach! It was Saturday, I was supposed to be happy for the weekend but all I could feel was the irritation of not being where I wanted to be.
Catching the Wandering Mind
We all know this feeling, that drive to be “there”, somewhere in the nicer future, where we’ll feel better, more happy and fulfilled. Maybe we can’t wait for the meeting to end, or for the weekend to come, or for the party to finally be over so we can get some rest! These small nagging moments happen to all of us throughout the day. We convince ourselves to hurry, we get irritated, frustrated, or start complaining as we become disheartened by our current experience, unhappy with whatever it maybe.
These moments of our lives are lost to the myth of discontent. They’re wasted on the mental trap that we can just skip over our lives until things get better. And although sometimes we really are struggling with a bona fide issue in the present moment often it’s just our conditioning to think into the future that makes us blind to all of the goodness that exists right NOW.
The idea that our mind wandering could make us unhappy was researched by scientists from Harvard. They found that a wandering mind is more likely to be an unhappy mind. Their research revealed the more present you are, connected to what’s happening now in your mind and body, the more likely you are to be happy. But it’s not enough to know this – you must practice being present.
When I noticed this feeling the other day I was about to go into the bank when I began to feel irritable and impatient that one more thing was keeping me from my happy place, the beach. But then I stopped and asked myself “Is it true? Is it really better over there, where I’m going? What about Now?” And in that moment I opened my eyes wider to look at the people around me, faces and expressions of life, people talking and connecting with each other, the play of light around trees, the beauty that was there. I felt fully alive again in that moment like I had taken back my life. I felt myself breathing through my body, my feet on the ground, and my eyes open to wonder. This is my life! How surprising it was to see that so many moments, so many days, have gone by without this precious acknowledgment.
Letting Go of Our Conditioning
So much of our stressing and discontent has to do with our conditioned mind to judge people or circumstances as good or bad. In negatively judging others we create separation and isolation. Judging our circumstances as bad we agree with the myth of insufficiency, inadequacy, and lose the magic that resides in this moment where we can notice the wonder of our lives.
We can acknowledge this habit we have in these moments, as I did at the bank, saying to myself, “it’s just my conditioning to think this way. I can choose to be right here, feeling the fullness of this moment”.
To remedy this persistent tendency toward discontent see if you can practice these 4 steps in your daily life when you notice moments of dissatisfaction. Remember, practice is the key!
- Acknowledge that you’re feeling discontented, incomplete, not good enough, frustrated, whatever you are feeling that is taking happiness and ease away.
- Say to yourself “this is just my conditioning” to look for what’s wrong, needs fixing, or to the future when I’ll be “better”. I can let go of this habitual way of seeing. I don’t have to feel this way.
- Turn toward this present moment. Let go of needing to be somewhere else or to feel something different.
- Open your senses. Invite in a sense of curiosity, feeling the breath in your body, open your eyes wider to notice what you didn’t see before. Take in the beauty and the wonder of your life. It’s really there even in the most mundane circumstances.
In bringing this curious and open awareness to your experience you liberate yourself from the myth of discontent. You’ve finally arrived at your Life.