I can get very stressed and have strong emotional responses to situations. Over the years, many people have suggested that I meditate or do yoga – neither of which appeals to me. So, I was pleased to come across the work of Ellen Langer, a social psychologist and professor at Harvard University. Her research shows how to be mindful without meditating.
Here are four take-aways from watching her video (below):
- Notice new things. When you do, whether it be about a person, a place you’ve walked before, or whatever you put your attention to, is mindfulness. Intentionally noticing new things is being in the present.
- Make what you are doing new in some way. Bring your style, perspective, interpretation to it. Even subtly. When musicians in an orchestra were asked to play their part, something they do over-and-over again, in a subtly new way, both the musician and the listener enjoyed the piece much more.
- Words and perspective matter. For example, instead of thinking of vacuuming as a chore, think of it as a chance to get exercise. Or, instead of thinking of your friend as “gullible,” think of him as “trusting.” When you change words, you change perspective and you get a change in mindset.
- The mind and body are one. Placebos work because of the mind-body connection. Her video has a lot of cool examples of how our mindset effects our health.
I’ve started noticing new things walks with my dogs. One of the things I’ve noticed is how different each tree is from another. They’ve got their own fingerprint. I enjoy the exercise of noticing new things and it certainly get me to be in the moment. And more relaxed.
If you decide to try some of these lessons, feel free to let me know how it goes.
(Profession Website: http://www.BethLevineCounseling.com)
Walks with my dogs help me not only to get outside and get exercise, but also savor the pleasant and interesting things around me. Just this morning, I saw a baby fox looking at us from a safe distance. Often, I take a photo of what I am enjoying (unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of the fox) which helps me amass a riches of positive feelings. Taking time to stop and smell the roses boosts my positive emotions.
In our daily lives, we are often distracted by our thoughts or tasks at hand, so it is good to purposefully take some time to notice and savor positive things around us. This is one thing we can do to increase our happiness. A trip to the Bahamas or Belize, though awesome, is not needed for us to savor the everyday beauty around us.
If you like, try taking a short walk of about 15 – 20 minutes each day, or however often works for you. Use your different senses to notice some charm in the moment. Feel the cool breeze on your skin. Notice the dramatic cloud formation. Smell the roses. Keeping a written journal or a photographic journal is an additional way to accumulate a treasure chest filled with simple pleasures.
The photos on this blog are some of the visual treats I’ve enjoyed. Most are from walks with my dogs, but some are from walks I’ve taken without Dali and Oskar. Yes, that does happen from time to time. I hope you enjoy.
And if you decide to give this “helpful hint” a try, feel free to let me know how it goes by writing below.
(professional website: http://www.BethLevineCounseling.com)
Stop trying to be happy.
Yep. That’s the key to happiness.
Of course, it’s not as simple as that, but according to Susan David, author of Emotional Agility, people who focus on being happy are less happy over time. Dr. David believes that getting to know ourselves, understanding what is really happening for us, slowing down so we can figure out how we would like to respond to our emotions are skills that help us be happier.
Here are some highlights from an interview Maria Shriver had with Susan David:
“One of the first things is showing up. Instead of trying to push our emotions aside or trying to put on a happy face—what I call bottling and brooding—instead, literally drop any struggle that you have within yourself by ending the battle. Not saying to yourself, “I’m unhappy, but I shouldn’t be unhappy.” Or, “I’m miserable in my job, but at least I’ve got a job.”
Really just open up to the fact that we have a full range of emotions. These emotions have helped us and evolved to enable us to position ourselves effectively in the world.”
Emotions offer us important information regarding what is important to us. In the interview, Dr. David goes on to say:
“It’s important to recognize that our emotions contain data. I’ve never met a mother who’s feeling guilty about her parenting who, at some level, isn’t wanting to be present and connected with her children. Our difficult emotions [point] to the things that we value.
Instead of struggling with whether we should or shouldn’t feel something, it’s important for us to say, “What is the function of this emotion? What is the value? What is this emotion trying to tell me?”
Here’s a link to the interview if you’re interested in reading further:
I know that I am not always happy and positive so reading that my happiness does not depend on me being happy and positive all the time made me happy! I hope it helps you, too.
(professional website: http://www.bethlevinecounseling.com)