I'm taking some vacation time this week. However, I'm not traveling to a particular destination, as I and many others usually do. I had planned to go to a nearby retreat center later this week. That may or may not happen since COVID-19 has limited the center's ability to offer the use of their cabins. That could be seen as a bummer and leave me in less than a happy state. However, I (or anyone) can be happy no matter what the circumstances we face. Frequently we fall for the mistaken belief that we have to reach a specific destination or achieve a particular goal to be happy. It's beautiful to be able to go to exotic places or finally accomplish a goal. However, they, or anything for that matter, are not prerequisites to happiness. You may know people who go on exotic trips or have achieved great things in life but are not happy.
I am reading a Special Edition of Time Magazine titled, "The Science of Happiness." One of the articles in the publication notes that when we put all our efforts in seeking to find what brings us joy, we hurt our chances to be happy. The article then reminds us of some important considerations when it comes to being happy. First of all, the author notes that when we focus on the nonstop achievement of goals, and getting more and more done, though good, it does not lead to genuine happiness. Only by slowing down and focusing on what's in front of us do we find real pleasure. The author of the article explains that concentrating on the present moment makes us happier, and the expression "Live in the moment" is more than a cliché. Scientific research backs this up.
The article notes that one of the things we often do to keep us from being in the moment is multitasking. In today's world, multitasking has become a standard way of being for many people. However, instead of helping us get more done, we usually get less accomplished. More importantly, it reduces our enjoyment by getting us out of tune with what we are doing so that we do not fully enjoy the activity. The scientific studies show that when we are in the moment we are happiest, no matter what we are doing. We are fully experiencing what is going on around us, not focusing on some future accomplishments, and we are fully engaged with the people, ideas, or projects at hand.
To help us be "in the moment," the article suggests the following:
· Notice when your mind is thinking about the future and bring your awareness to the present moment.
· Take a break from technology and, when possible, spend some time in nature to relax the mind. Moreover, you will uncover the sense of fulfillment that is always available in the here and now.
· Consciously set your intention to be present. Decide to be fully attentive to whatever you are doing. When you find yourself inclined to let yourself be distracted, bring yourself back to the present moment. Mindful meditation and focusing on the breath can help us be present.
· When something pleasant happens in your life, bask in the moment. This pleasure will spill over into other areas of your life.
This special edition of Time Magazine is quite good with lots of tips on how to be happy, no matter what. It’s worth checking out.
Peace and blessings,