Meditation has many benefits. If you were expecting from the title of this article for us to debunk collected centuries of Eastern wisdom and refute a number of reputable studies into the virtues of Mindfulness, you’re in the wrong place. However, when starting a meditation practice, it can be hard to know what to look for. Some might feel it’s simply a waste of time after struggling to make much progress over a period of months, while others might feel that the practice is starting to fix every problem in their life. Of course, both viewpoints, while subjectively correct, are not objectively correct.
But with the wisdom of meditation, it can be hard to remain objective. Each person will experience it in their own way, and make their own progress. This leads people to look for concrete examples and definitive proof that their practice is worth it. It is, but it’s important to know why and how. With the following advice, you might find this help more practical and worthy for your aims:
Of course, the art of positive meditation is to come back to yourself and to help your mind settle on that which is actually in front of you. The present moment is all any of us have access to, and so it can be important to live there as much as possible. Of course, this isn’t to say that thinking of the past and future isn’t integral to the living of our lives, but it’s truly important to practice this form of comfort and to develop competent understandings of how to manage it.
Presence can often give us a range of benefits, from helping us become more observant, listening to people with more depth, and being able to focus on tasks with more reliability. It can also help us become more patient, and prevent our aggravated reactions to difficult experience.
Ego can be of great benefit, but can also be a double-edged sword. It can help us defend ourselves and feel pride in who we are and our achievements. It can help us consider bettering ourselves and helps us form our identity in the world. But it can also become toxically directed, perhaps overblown, and often prevent our connection to other people.
With a good practice of meditation enacted, your need to satiate your ego will be reduced. This is because you’ll feel value in who you are rather than who you believe yourself to be. It’s a much more authentic kind of practice, and it can be great to experience things from this lens.
Much of fear is based around not what is happening, but what could happen. Of course, there is wisdom here. It shows maybe we shouldn’t fish in the crocodile-infested waters, because something bad could happen. It can also conjure up plenty of faux-threats that simply are not true or worth worrying about.
Meditation helps you differentiate between reality and imagining with much more presence, and also helps you respond to the threat of a moment with easier reactions. This naturally helps you feel more confident, and thus reduces your irrational fear.
With these tips and a solid practice, you’re sure to experience the true benefits of meditation.
This post was written in collaboration. Collaborative writing means that while I have contributed to this post and edited its content and formatting, I am not its original author. By posting this content on my blog, I may receive financial compensation. Want to guest post for Jihi Elephant? Learn morehere.
What is happiness? Happiness is a phenomenon, emotion, or state of being we all strive to achieve. Here are 10 ways to promote happiness in your life.
What is Happiness?
There are a million ways to define happiness.
“Be happy. Be bright. Be you.”
The dictionaries define happiness as
Delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing; OR Characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy (Dictionary.com).
A state of well-being and contentment; OR A pleasurable or satisfying experience (Merriam-Webster).
Others define happiness as fully enjoying all that you are and that is around you.
Despite the definitions, everyone experiences happiness differently. Some might become giddy or feel bubbly inside. Others might experience overwhelming emotions or even tear up. Others simply smile or feel joyfully content. There is nothing wrong with experiencing and expressing happiness your own way!
But, you’ve come here looking for ways to be happier. So, without further ado…
“Being happy never goes out of style.” – Unknown
How to be Happy
Happiness is as much a choice as it is an involuntary emotion. Let me explain.
You might often feel happiness without choosing to. For example, if a friend surprises you with something you love, you would most likely feel happiness automatically. You probably don’t have to remind yourself to be happy about the surprise.
However, you can also choose happiness. During trials and difficult times where you would automatically become sad or frustrated, you can instead choose to feel happy. I am, by no means, saying that you should feel happy instead of these other emotions (because it’s healthy to let yourself feel these emotions too), but it’s an option.
“Don’t let the silly little things steal your happiness.” -Unknown
Taking breaks is so important. These days we are so busy that we completely neglect to allow ourselves some good old-fashioned downtime. Feeling depressed, overwhelmed, sad, stressed? Take a break, treat yourself! You deserve it.
Taking breaks is so much more important than you realize. Taking some time out allows both your body and your mind a reset or reboot. If you are constantly going and jam-packing your body with caffeine, your body, and your mind will eventually give out.
If I do not take time off of both work and blogging each week, I burn out mentally and end up sick. This is no fun. But if I take some time to myself and practice some self-love while I’m at it, I feel refreshed and energetic!
You just can’t go wrong taking a break.
Not sure how to fit downtime or self-love into your busy schedule? Check out my 30-day self-love challenge that incorporates quick and simple self-love practices into every day for 30 days straight!
“There is sunshine in my soul today.”
Helping others has always and will always be a huge influencer of happiness. When you help others, you feel better about yourself. You feel happier. Even if what you are able to give is only your time or services. Maybe you share a sandwich with someone who forgot their lunch or help a neighbor carry their heavy groceries into their house. Trust me, you’ll feel great!
I don’t really need to explain this one. We hear it all the time, exercise, exercise, exercise. It’ll make you healthier and this is why it’ll make you happier. Yes, it’s exhausting, and yes, it’s difficult. But at the end, you’ll have accomplished so much, and you’ll feel happy about yourself.
“Happiness is made, not found.”
Meditation is so beneficial, but it a little bit of a taboo for some. Let me clear the air. You do not have to be religious to meditate. There is actually no one way to practice meditation.
Some people enjoy taking quiet walks to clear their mind by focusing on sights and sounds. Others practice yoga meditation where there is a focus on clearing the mind through breathing and stretching. Or maybe you’ll simply sit quietly for a few moments focusing on your breathing.
Meditation simply allows you to clear your mind of everything that is overwhelming your or stressing you out. It’s not for everyone, but I practice this each night before bed and it allows me to get to bed quicker and start each day new. It doesn’t remove stress, but it allows me to look at my stress more logically, instead of panicking.
“There are two ways to be happy: change the situation, or change your mindset towards it.”
I do not believe that I need to go into detail on this one, same as exercise. We hear all about how eating healthier is so great for your body and happiness. Those people are right. In all honesty, I do not eat right, and I can feel it making me groggier and more miserable. When I do eat healthy though, I feel amazing. I sleep better, I make better decisions, I feel better–I am happier.
“Being happy doesn’t mean everything’s perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”
Drink A Lot of Water
With eating healthier, you ought to drink more water. Not only is it great for your skin, but it’s great for your attitude. Again, I won’t go into details, because we all know this is true. I’m here to simply remind you to drink water because it’ll make you happier.
“I choose to be happy today.”
No, when I say socialize, I don’t mean you must constantly be around people. I’m an introvert, so I know that for some people, spending a lot of time around people is exhausting.
However, it is not healthy to hermit all the time (however tempting it might be). If you’re constantly hiding out on your own without human interaction you are going to get depressed.
So, to combat this, just get some socialization regularly. This could be anything from going out to the bar with some co-workers, to a night in with your family. Socializing doesn’t have to be complicated.
Here are some ways for the introvert to socialize!
Go into the bank instead of using the ATM
Strike up conversation at the grocery store check out
Go visit or call some family and just catch up
Happy a close friend over for the evening
Go out in public – anywhere (sometimes being in the presence of people is enough)
Go get coffee with a friend or co-worker
Spend some time at the water cooler at work
Attend a study group or tutoring session
“Surround yourself with those who make you happy.”
For some people, this is easy or natural, but for others, it’s incredibly difficult. I’m a naturally positive person; however, when I am stressed, I am a massive negative-Nelly. Being negative (especially when I am already stressed) does me absolutely no good.
If I am in a bad mood, or even if I’m not in any kind of mood, forcing myself to think about the positive eventually turns my mood around.
Fake it till you believe it.
“Think positive and positive things will happen.”
Practice Gratefulness Regularly
Gratefulness is healing. I can’t think of a better way to explain it, except to share a blurb from my own personal gratefulness story.
I was in a low point in my life, by ‘low’ I don’t mean living on the streets or anything the phrase implies. I mean that I was struggling with a huge transition and a lot of anxiety. It was at this point I decided to start a gratefulness art project. Each day I would write down several reasons that I was grateful. Anything counted, everything I thought was written down.
When you sit around thinking about all that is going wrong, all that is awful, or all that you wish was different, naturally, you will feel sad or angry. But, if you spend your time thinking about all that is going well and all that you enjoy about your life, naturally you will begin to feel happy!
“The key to being happy is knowing you have the power to choose what to accept and what to let go.” -Dodinsky
How Planning Ahead Can Make You Happier
Nothing is worse than the moment you realize that you’ve forgotten to plan for something, causing you to rush around like a chicken with its head chopped off. These scenarios are immensely stressful and can reduce happiness. The only way to reduce this stress, ultimately increasing your happiness, is to plan for it.
Planning ahead does wonders for stress. I highly recommend, and will always recommend, getting or making a planner. Personally, I use bullet journals because they are far more customizable. If you’d like to read more about different ways to get organized check out A Practical Guide to Time Management + Productivity, a guest post I wrote.
“HOW TO BE HAPPY: decide every morning that you are in a good mood.”
It’s not always easiest to be happy, but by following these guidelines, it should be a little easier to do. I hope you enjoyed these guidelines! What do you do that makes you happy??
Are you up for a challenge!? Awesome! I challenge you to 30 days of self-love! For the next 30 days, pamper yourself! Self-love is so important; I cannot stress it enough! This challenge calls you to spend 30 days indulging and taking care of yourself, working on loving yourself. Self-love is more than just loving your life. It is loving who you are and taking care of yourself. So many people spend their time taking care of others (their spouse, children, clients, friends, etc.). This is great, but we forget to take care of ourselves! Take part in the 30-days of self-love challenge!
So what is self-love? Well, according to Deborah Khoshaba over at Psychology Today, “Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth. Self-love is dynamic; it grows by actions that mature us. When we act in ways that expand self-love in us, we begin to accept much better our weaknesses as well as our strengths, have less need to explain away our shortcomings, have compassion for ourselves as human beings struggling to find personal meaning, are more centered in our life purpose and values, and expect living fulfillment through our efforts.”
This challenge incorporates a ton of ways you can implement daily self-love in a small not-so-time-consuming way.
Without further ado…
More On Self-Love & Loving Yourself
Self-love could be re-phrased as self-acceptance. When you accept yourself as you are right now, and love yourself just for being you (despite your flaws, despite your failures, and despite your past poor decisions) your life truly begins to open up. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a mid-life crisis or traumatic divorce to break us down. A bit like Humpty Dumpty, to allow us to build ourselves back together, we need glue (aka self-love).
This self-love challenge includes some of my favorite relaxation and self-care activities. But, please, by all means, love yourself the way that is best for you. If you don’t like puzzles but you like story-writing, then write a story on the days I challenge you to complete a puzzle. It’s completely customizable! Let’s get started!
Journal about something that you love and why you love it
For this challenge, you will need…
An open mind
Willingness to love yourself
30 days of commitment
A candle or multiple candles
A journal or notebook
Tea, any kind will work
A leisure book of your choice
And if you don’t have all of this, don’t worry because you can change the challenge to fit you!
Meet Elizabeth! Elizabeth is the creator and writer here at Elizabeth Journals. In addition to creating for ElizabethJournals, she is a full-time graduate student studying clinical mental health counseling. She started Jihi Elephant to share her experiences, spread organizational tips, and promote positive living. Elizabeth is an avid bullet journalist, dabbling artist, and houseplant fanatic.
You can also read more about the origins of Jihi Elephant and its creator here.
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