Mindfulness Helps Us Cultivate the Positive
Ten Ways to Bring More Joy Into Your Life
What images or ideas do you have when you think about practicing mindfulness? Do you picture a quiet setting where someone is sitting with her eyes closed? Sitting for long periods of time without moving? Doing nothing and/or being bored?
If so, I’d like to give you another image of mindfulness. Imagine being full of joy and energy, engaging with yourself and others with non-judgmental, curious attention, being grateful for all of the blessings in your life, and having a sense of play in your life.
For me, mindfulness practice and all spiritual practice that I engage in are sprinkled with lots of joy. And, too many people I have met along the path seem to be disconnected with this important aspect of mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness is about being present with open arms to everything that arises—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Mindfulness does not have to be serious. In fact, it can help us open to the joy that is present in each and every moment. Even if you don’t like what the present moment holds, my experience shows me that there is always a way to find a spark of joy and love there.
We can cultivate this way of looking at and responding to the world. Cultivating the positive is a mindfulness PRACTICE. Like anything that you want to get good at, it requires your daily attention. Unconsciously we cultivate a lot of anxiety, stress, and other more negative feelings but wouldn’t you rather cultivate joy? If so, here are some ideas to consider.
1.Say “Thanks” To Your Body When You First Wake Up in the Morning!
As soon as you are aware you are awake, say “thank you” to your body. Your body breathed all night long without you needing to do anything to make it happen. And, it did thousands of others things as well. Say “thank you” for another day to experience the miracle of being alive.
2. Do Something Silly
I thought of this one when I was taking my shower this morning. If you can’t be silly anywhere else, the shower is your stage. I sang and danced (make sure you have a non-slip pad in your shower). I even made monkey sounds (one of my favorite things to do). Get your silly on at least once a day. My husband who is 64 years old has this one down pat so you can’t use your age as an excuse of not being silly.
3. Sing, Dance, Play or Listen to Music (or all three)
Okay, even if you sang and danced while you were in the shower, continue the joy into the rest of the day. Listen to at least one song, play your instrument (if you have one), sing and/or dance. These are guaranteed to bring a smile to your body, if not your face. The vibration of sound is believed to affect your body in positive ways to reduce stress, decrease anxiety and depression, and promote relaxation.
Smiling is a cocktail for happiness, producing endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin—known for their positive benefits. Put a smile on your face right now and leave it there for 30 seconds. Notice how it makes you feel. According to the facial feedback hypothesis, facial muscles not only express emotions, but they also have the ability to modulate how you feel. In other words, if you put a smile on your face you can change from feeling angry or anxious to feeling happier or initiate a happy feeling “out of the blue.” When you smile, you are literally sending messages to your brain that you’re happy.
5. Laugh Out Loud
Now that you’re smiling, it won’t be too much more effort to get in some good belly laughs. Belly laughs can decrease stress hormones and increase your immune system functioning. Spend time with positive people who like to laugh, watch your favorite comedian, play with kids, and laugh at yourself. Laughing at yourself is good for you on SO many levels and you can become a source of constant humor for yourself.
6. Talk about Uplifting Topics
Spending time talking to friends can be a boost to your mood. However, it can also be time for a pity party or to talk about the latest disaster or politics. If the conversation starts to go to “what’s wrong” keep bringing the conversation back to “what’s right.” Again, this is a great practice and you’ll be the person that people start coming to in order to feel better.
7. Take a Walk
By yourself or with another, talk a walk every day. It doesn’t have to be a long walk. Even a 15-minute walk can be enough to start energizing your body, improving your mood, and activating your mind.
8. Look in the Mirror and Give Yourself a High Five!
Okay.. how many of you look in the mirror and say something negative? I have been teaching mindfulness for many years and I know that most of you fall prey to this habit. It’s just a bad habit. Your mind is not telling you something true about yourself. Look in the mirror and start a new habit of giving yourself the thumbs up, a high five, and an exclamation of “Yes.. You’re great!” or some other positive affirmation. It might feel a little weird at first, but before you know it, you will be looking forward to seeing yourself.
9. Breathe Deeply
No matter which method of breathing you choose to do (4-7-8 breathing, box breathing, or other) taking deeper breaths will calm your system and put you in a better mood by lowering your stress level. Add a few yoga postures with your deep breath and receive an even bigger benefit. To find out more about breathing techniques that would work best for you, click here.
10. Do Something Nice for Someone Else
You will feel so happy when you do something for someone else, you might start regularly looking for ways to make someone else smile. You can let someone in front of you on the road, let someone in front of you in the grocery store line, offer to buy someone’s coffee or lunch, and send a loving text to a friend, family member or colleague letting them know you’re thinking about them. There are innumerable ways you can do something nice and it doesn’t have to cost anything except a little thoughtfulness and care. Caring is contagious, as are positive moods.
That should get you started on being a happier person. And, I hope you see how this mindfulness practice enhances your life on every level. Iff you need a little extra inspiration, watch Jessica’s Daily Affirmation to get you started.