We all want to be happy. We all seek experiences that give us happiness. On the flip side, we tend to avoid or want to get rid of pain and suffering. And yet our minds always occupy themselves with the negative a lot more than with the positive. Scientist believe that this habit started back in the prehistoric times when we had to dwell on the bad in order to make sure we survived. So if your brother was killed by a tiger, you dwelled on this so that you would avoid being killed by the tiger next time.
Neuroscientists are also finding the happiness and positivity can be cultivated. The parts of the brain that are involved in feelings of contentment and happiness can be strengthened. So how might we do this?
Mindfulness practices help us learn to be awake and aware of our thoughts, impulses, and beliefs. The more you practice, the more you learn to catch your mind in its old habits. At the time that you catch your mind engaged in negative or destructive thinking, you want to redirect your attention to the present moment (click on the word moment for additional tips on this).
At the same time, when we cultivate mindful awareness into the present moment, we begin to notice when we are having a good moment; this can be something small or something more significant, it doesn’t matter, just pay attention. When you become aware that you are in a good moment, stop for at least 12 seconds. Take it in, notice your body and the sensations of feeling good, happy, content or whatever the feelings are. Be present for it. This is a way that you will cultivate happiness and your brain will begin to change so that the areas of the brain involved in happiness will begin to get stronger and stronger.
Want to learn more about how to cultivate mindfulness? Join the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Class, click here more information.