Do You Want to Know the Secret to Happiness? Ask the Experts

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Renew Your Mind and Be Happy

Do you know how to be happy?

We're not talking about changing your circumstances and eliminating your problems. True happiness means staying content in spite of your financial problems, health issues, or relationship challenges.

Do you wish that you were better at controlling your emotions? Are compassion and patience virtues that you would like to improve in your life?

Anyone can achieve emotional balance. But these are skills that take time and practice. Overnight happiness is about as real as your average get-rich-quick scheme.

On the other hand, training your mind through mindfulness meditation builds your control over your response to the ups and downs in life.

Don't think that only certain people can be free spirited or empathetic. "One of the traumas of our times is to vastly underestimate the power of transformation of [the] mind," said Matthieu Ricard during his talk on the art of meditation. Ricard is a Buddhist monk and an author of several books on meditation and happiness.

The Power of Meditation is Backed By Science

Meditation is often viewed as an ineffective foreign practice. The word in itself tends to conjure up images of Buddha statues and monks in long robes.

People often view mindfulness meditation as a practice that requires you to empty your head of all thoughts for hours on end.

This is way too difficult! The more you try to put your thoughts aside, the more they bombard your mind. Meditation isn't a ritualistic practice or a mind-emptying exercise. It's not limited to one religion or worldview.

Instead, mindfulness meditation is a proven way to calm your mind and improve your mood. It trains you how to be happy, and to observe your outer world in a more positive way while improving your ability to control your inner world of emotions. This isn't a simple task--like many other skills in life, the ability to control your mind requires daily practice in order to enjoy its benefits.

Meditation Practice Literally Changes the Way You Think

Many tend to think that a better state of mind can be achieved through effort, only to become discouraged after their first slip-up. You can't become healthy physically simply wishing it were true, and the same is true with mental health.

Practice and time is required to allow your mind to grow stronger and develop important skills that improve your outlook on life.

Taking the time to develop your ability to control your mind and emotions can have a major impact on your life. It's easy to see how a person's state of mind overshadows their circumstances. In the US, we often see people who look like they have it all, but they're still miserable. At the same time, it seems that some other people should be gloomy, but instead have a happy disposition.

Meditation Helps You to Face the World With Confidence

Agitation, anxiety, and anger are several examples of emotions that gain control as they become more intense. Once you can separate yourself from intense feelings through meditation, you gain confidence in your ability to face adversity.

With this growing confidence, fear of vulnerability fades so that you feel free to open yourself up to others. The power you have to separate yourself from your emotions creates an inner calm, knowing that "whatever happens, happens".

How to Be Happy: Be Your Own Therapist

Meditation Changes Old Habits by Retraining Your Mind

In Eastern languages, the word "meditation" means to become familiar with a new skill and acquire a basic understanding of how the mind works.

Meditation isn't about getting rid of all your thoughts. You could never truly be able to do that because your mind is filled with thousands of thoughts.

Begin mindfulness meditation by concentrating on your breath. You feel the sensation of air going into your nostrils, through your windpipe, and into your lungs. You feel the rising and falling of your chest and stomach. You are aware of subtle sounds in your environment. This is mindfulness.

It isn't an easy task. Be patient with yourself and continue to practice.

Relax.

In order to nurture feelings of lovingkindness toward others, bring to mind someone you love unconditionally. Do this for 20 minutes each day to train your mind to have a more positive view of the world.

Use a significant block of time each day--10 or 20 minutes--to train your mind. You shouldn't expect results from inconsistent practice. Matthieu Ricard illustrates this point with household plants: if you want your plants to flourish, you need to water them regularly. You shouldn't dump a bucket of water on them once a month and expect good results.

Meditation is Scientific, Not Metaphysical

Learning how to control your mind through meditation isn't a supernatural religious experience.

Taking the time to meditate each day slowly changes your brain. It allows you to be mindful of your emotions and creates a more positive outlook on your life situation and people around you.

Neuroscience calls this phenomenon brain plasticity. When you consistently expose your mind to something new, changes occur naturally. Training your mind through meditation improves your ability to control how it responds to stimuli, much like learning a sport or new language.

Meditation Separates Reality From Roller-Coaster Emotions

Anxiety and other strong feelings may sometimes seem to control you, but everyone has the ability to separate themselves from growing emotion. Once you are aware of a negative feeling, you can distance yourself and observe it with awareness.

Holding emotions inside or venting anger doesn't help to relieve you of emotions that take control of your mind. Maintaining self-awareness can transform you from a person who reacts to emotions into someone who can see an emotion building and allow it to die down on its own. These feelings simply become a fact of life that you can watch come and go.

If you maintain this awareness, you can watch as the emotion melts down and disappears. It's like letting a campfire burn itself out--you don't add any more wood as you watch it burn down to nothing.

Everyone can afford to take 20 minutes each day to meditate. Doing so will train your mind to control your emotions rather than letting them control you.

Don't underestimate the power of mindfulness meditation to make real change in your life, allowing you to become a happier, more even-tempered and loving person in spite of your circumstances.

Relaxing Meditation Music (works wonders for insomnia!)

© Liz Davis 2012 How to Be Happy

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts! 7 comments

RobinGrosswirth23 profile image

RobinGrosswirth23 4 years ago from New York

Excellent hub. Well written. Great advice. I know many a devotee of meditation and I have envied them. I am trying to develop my own practice. Thanks for a great read.


Radcliff profile image

Radcliff 4 years ago from Hudson, FL Author

Thanks, Robin! I appreciate the kind words. Taking a moment or two throughout the day to practice mindfulness is a great way to make meditation a habit. No pressure :)


Louisa Rogers profile image

Louisa Rogers 4 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

I found you from a comment you wrote billybuc. This is a very clear introduction to meditation. I especially appreciate your pointing out that meditation isn't metaphysical. I have been meditating since the late 90s, and now meditate with a group. For me, the changes happened gradually and subtly, but it definitely has had an effect. Voted up and useful. P.S. I love the photo!


Radcliff profile image

Radcliff 4 years ago from Hudson, FL Author

Thank you, Louisa! It's true--the idea that meditation is metaphysical is a common misconception. It's pretty interesting how science is now showing exactly how it works to improve the brain. I'm glad you're enjoying the results of regular meditation! Thanks for sharing your story.


WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago

Beautiful article. So true, meditation has really transformed my life since I started about 25 years ago. I have raised my kids to use meditation techniques as well, and while not all of them will sit for a long session they've learned how to calm and center themselves, be mindful of the present and calm themselves down. Great job.


Radcliff profile image

Radcliff 3 years ago from Hudson, FL Author

Thank you, Sage! I wish everyone would believe in the difference meditation can make in a person's life. I love that you're teaching your children the same techniques--I hope to do the same.


swalia profile image

swalia 16 months ago

i have been practising meditation for a few years now and i can say this from experience that meditating every morning has been a key factor in ensuring a peaceful mind throughout the day.

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