My clearest memory of myself as a teenager is one of me sitting in my therapist’s office and crying as I explained that all I ever wanted was to wake up wanting to be alive, 28 days out of the month instead of 2 or 3 days, which was the case back then.
In those days I was so depressed, that it was difficult for me to imagine being happy, but I could imagine wanting to be alive.
But what does it take to be happy?
Matt Killingsworth has been trying to answer one question: what makes us happy? He studied over 15,000 people from over 80 countries of all ages, races, income and religions and had them keep track of their emotions during the day.
He found that when we’re most unhappy when our mind wanders and we fail to remain present and focused on the here and now.
He found that focusing on “happy thoughts” when you’re doing something else in the present doesn’t make you happy.
The only way to be happy, is to be aware of this moment, even if this moment suck (yes even if the present moment sucks).
I know that there’s validity to this conclusion because I started wanting to live, when I started meditating.
Meditation taught me to remain present and since then, I’ve never thought of suicide as an option.
The question then isn’t how to be happy but how to remain present
If Matt Killingsworth found that mind wandering causes unhappiness but even so, he found that people are very rarely present, they are only present 53% of the time.
Mind wandering is actually a way of life for most of us.
So how do we stop the mind from wandering?
Meditation trains the mind to remain present by focusing on the breath or the sensations in our body.
It teaches you how to be happy by opening you to your inner world so you can start to look inward for the answers and is one of those tried and tested techniques that have been around for as long as we’ve been conscious of our own existence.
My experience of meditation is one of awe and gratitude because it changed my life forever and gave me insights on how to be happy.
Byron Katie says the fastest way to give yourself stress is to give yourself a future. When you start to think of all the many ways that life can go wrong in the future, you’ve started to add to your stress.
Obsessing about the future not only distracts you from the present but it also starts creating the future you’re so busy stressing about.
A wise man once asked Gottham Buddha how to be happy and enlightened and the Buddha answered with: “In your tasting let the only be tasting, in your seeing let there only be seeing, in your hearing let there only be hearing.”
In short: remain present to every moment of your life. Let your grief be grief and your sadness be sadness without carrying them in your soul for a life time and without adding anything else to them.
2. Do yoga
Full disclosure: I’m a yoga fanatic.
Yoga is way more than physical exercise; it’s a spiritual practice that forces you to focus on your breathing and your body and may increase grey matter.
It can teach you to just be in this moment and in your body, which teaches you to be present.
What do you think it takes to be happy?
Let me know in the comments section below