Written by: Sophie Benbow, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Is re-defining happiness the key to deeper contentment?
Happiness is something I’ve been reading about and thinking about deeply for a good 7 years or more. It all started with my trip to Bhutan (The Kingdom of Happiness) in 2016.
What I’ve found is that my own experience of happiness and what that actually means to me has helped me feel a deeper connection within. What I thought made me happy (pre-2016) was actually far from it, this was a big surprise for me. This made me question many things, but mainly how can I enrich my life on a deeper level and experience my own definition of happiness frequently.
We live in a world where ‘happiness’ has been portrayed as having ‘things’ and ‘status’. What I learnt was that I am the key to my own happiness and everything I need I already have inside of me. Life is full of distractions like social media, work, commuting, looking after the household, grocery shopping and bills. When do we actually stop and reconnect with what we do and who we are. And…..when we do have time, are we present or are we looking for ways to escape our inner being?
Connecting with ourselves is not as easy as it sounds and can take some work. Imagine you have seeds inside of you that need to be watered regularly to blossom and grow. If you don’t nurture those seeds and look after them, they won’t grow.
Practicing Mindfulness gives us the ability to focus our awareness which in turn leads to insight. Insight can help us clear negative feelings and emotions such as fear, anxiety and anger. It gives us space and permission to be happy.
Here is a simple focusing technique that is so easy and a good introduction to mindfulness:
Focus your attention on a single object..eg, pen, flower, keys.
Repeat slow, deep breaths.
If your mind wanders gently draw it back to the object.
You should find that your thoughts have stopped racing.
Gaining deeper insight starts with being present. Do you notice when you let beautiful moments pass you by? Are you unaware of beautiful moments until after the fact? This can be because you are distracted, worried or anxious. It can also be because you don’t really know what you appreciate and value. For me, I appreciate nature and sharing beautiful moments like sunsets, rivers, views, flowers, wildlife by myself or with loved ones. I also find immense peace and presence in cooking, trail running, spending time with my dog and solitude.
Recognise the simple things that bring you joy. Examples could be, but are not limited to:
Active listening with your loved ones
Time with nature
Time spent with pets
Moments to yourself in solitude
Connected mealtimes with no distractions
Mindful eating in solitude
Moments without your phone
Hugging and touch
During these practices if you find you are distracted and unable to truly enjoy the moment bring your focus back to your breath. Your home.
How to practice deep breathing
Sit quietly and notice your surroundings.
Become present and take a few deep breaths in an out, do this slowly.
Notice where you are holding tension and allow yourself to relax
Breathe in, to the count of four
Breathe out to the count of four
Repeat until you feel calmer.
With time and practice your breath will become deeper and shallow.
Be kind to yourself and practice with relaxation and an open mind. Seek understanding of self as opposed to fulfilling a tick box. Open your heart and be willing to receive.
Re-define what happiness means to you. Notice when you feel calm, content and filled with love. Prioritise doing more of these things and develop your awareness around these moments.
Remember to water your seeds and bloom.
Sophie Benbow, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Sophie Benbow is a self-development coach, Mindfulness and Meditation teacher who holds various qualifications in Health & Fitness. She aims to guide you on a journey of self-love, healing and compassion. Head on over to her website to enquire about coaching, listen to her meditations and follow her social channels.