What do You do When Feel Unhappy?
Everyone has days when they feel down. What do you find helps you on those gloomy days? Do you go out for a meal? Maybe see a new movie? Visit a friend? Take a walk? Do you get a buzz from jogging or going to the gym?
Maybe you find it energizing to go shopping. Or perhaps you treat yourself to an ice tea with friends to overcome your unhappiness.
We all have our preferred methods to shake off a dreary day. Sometimes those things are enough to make us feel better in the moment. But science tells us something interesting about achieving real happiness.
Right now, scientists are in the process of showing us how happiness can only come to us through internal change and positive daily habits. Other things might lift our moods for the moment, and that’s not a bad thing to do. But real, lasting happiness doesn’t come from keeping up with the latest movies or sharing a round of cocktails or beer with friends.
Learn Meditation as a Happiness Habit
Consider the research by Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin and Jon Kabat-Zinn from the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre.
The study involved 41 stressed, but otherwise healthy, individuals working in a biotechnology firm in Wisconsin. 25 participants were taught mindful meditation, in which you focus on what you’re experiencing in the present moment, such as emotions, thoughts, and other sensations. The group of 25 met for a few hours each week to learn mindful meditation. Each member of the group was also asked to meditate at home using a guided meditation for one hour per day. Then after six weeks of training, all attended a meditation retreat.
The other 16 were held as a control group and did not receive meditation training until the study was completed.
After eight weeks, researchers collected data on brain function in areas that activate when we feel positive and happy. The results confirmed that the participants who were taught meditation had increased brain function in these areas as well as a measurable boost in their immune systems.
Not only did using their minds help these study subjects feel happier, it also helped their bodies become healthier, too!
Not for You? Try this!
You think meditation is not for you? You’ve tried it a few times and it didn’t work for you? You’ve read the research but you are just too busy or active? That’s what I thought, and then I learned that there are many ways to meditate. If you can breathe, you can meditate! I have explored different ways of meditating that fit with my “excited” personality and my favorite is walking meditation. I even have downloaded a guided walking meditation app from here.
You can learn more on how to increase happiness in my book, 21 Days to Happiness. Chapter 18 guides you through setting up your own simple daily meditation practice. Try it today!
Business Psychologist/Happiness Expert