“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand – and melting like a snowflake…”

– Francis Bacon, Sr.

The hot topic of Mindfulness

Here is a heads up in anticipation of Mental Health Awareness Week, 11 – 17th May 2015 (#MHAW15 #BeMindful). This will be the 15th annual awareness event, founded by the Mental Health Foundation www.mental-health.org.uk

Mental Health Awareness Week aims to encourage conversation around mental health to fight discrimination and stigma and promote good mental wellbeing. This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week, 11 – 17th May 2015, is Mindfulness.

Contrary to some popular misconceptions, mindfulness is not about emptying the mind, but more so about gaining control over the focus of your attention. Similarly, the objectives of practicing mindfulness are not about reducing anxiety or promoting relaxation, as is often thought; although these are often a welcome side effect. Mindfulness in its essence is about learning to pay attention to and fully experience the present moment. By encouraging us to drop our tendency to drag around emotional baggage from the past and worries about the future, mindfulness enables us to accept our present experiences for what they are, whether that is good, bad or indifferent. You could be experiencing some pretty awful emotions during a mindfulness practise, but by being mindful you can learn to manage these moments more effectively; giving us a tool to better accept the full spectrum of life’s experiences and emotions.

100 days of happiness.

Can you be happy for 100 days in a row?

71% of people tried and failed at the challenge, #100Happydays, to simply post a picture of what made them happy each day for 100 days in a row. Most of these people reported that they were to busy to complete the challenge.

Too busy to be happy?! 

www.100happydays.com

Sign up and give this challenge a go. See if you can find the time to commit to your happiness and becoming better able to enjoy each moment you are in. Learning how to notice and appreciate that moment of happiness,  even during those rubbish days.

International Day of Happiness

The General Assembly of the United Nations has proclaimed 20th March the International Day of Happiness, recognising the relevance of happiness and wellbeing as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the worlds.The UN invites us to observe the International Day of Happiness in an appropriate manner, including through education and public awareness-raising activities.

With this in mind, I thought it would nice to spread some happiness using a list of things a colleague once shared with me, that had helped him to become happier; these things were the ‘Ten Keys to Happier Living’. As I’m sure you will all appreciate, everyone’s path to happiness is different, but there is evidence that suggests that these Ten Keys have consistently had a positive impact on people’s happiness and wellbeing.

Below I have simply copied and pasted a summary of these Ten Keys. However, you can download the full guide by visiting www.actionforhappiness.org if you are interested in finding out more.

Happy International Day of Happiness everyone!

1. Do things for others
Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. Helping other people is not only good for them and a great thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. And it’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good!

2. Connect with people
Relationships are the most important overall contributor to happiness. People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning, support and increase our feelings of self-worth. Broader networks bring a sense of belonging. So taking action to strengthen our relationships and create new connections is essential for happiness.

3. Take care of your body
Our body and our mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of a depression. We don’t all need to run marathons – there are simple things we can all do to be more active each day. We can also boost our well-being by unplugging from technology, getting outside and making sure we get enough sleep!

4. Notice the world around
Ever felt there must be more to life? Well good news, there is! And it’s right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice. Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life – like our walk to work, the way we eat or our relationships. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future – so we get more out of the day-to-day.

5. Keep learning new things
Learning affects our well-being in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. There are many ways to learn new things – not just through formal qualifications. We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more.

6. Have goals to look forward to
Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us and these need to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable. If we try to attempt the impossible this brings unnecessary stress. Choosing ambitious but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them.

7. Find ways to bounce back
All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. But how we respond to these has a big impact on our well-being. We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our own attitude to what happens. In practice it’s not always easy, but one of the most exciting findings from recent research is that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned.

8. Take a positive approach
Positive emotions – like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration, and pride – are not just great at the time. Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an ‘upward spiral’, helping to build our resources. So although we need to be realistic about life’s ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation – the glass half full rather than the glass half empty.

9. Be comfortable with who you are
No-one’s perfect. But so often we compare our insides to other people’s outsides. Dwelling on our flaws – what we’re not rather than what we’ve got – makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are.

10. Be part of something bigger
People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find ‘meaning and purpose’? It might be our religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves.