The Alphabet of Happiness: M

I hope you found yesterday’s post regarding Laughing, Learning, and Leisure to be helpful. If you just joined this journey, be sure to take the time to go back and read from the beginning. Do you know what today is? Well, today is the letter “M,” which means we are now halfway through the alphabet. Let’s get to it!


Mindfulness and Music

Mindfulness

There are tens of thousands of books regarding the topic of mindfulness. There are hardback books, paperbacks, workbooks, journals, professional texts, books for instructors and teachers and every other type of medium and audience you can imagine. My point is that this article is in no way a professional or exhaustive explanation about mindfulness. This is most likely a reminder for you and how to use mindfulness in your daily life in order to achieve happiness.

“When one thought ends, right before the next thought begins, there is a tiny gap called ‘now.’ Over time we learn to expand that gap.” -Spring Washam

In other words, mindfulness can be defined as, “Focusing one’s awareness on the present moment (the here and now), while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. (Liann Dysche, LCSW)

mindfulness-here-and-now

There are two very important words to remember in the above description: “now” and “accepting.” Mindfulness allows us to be present where we are in the moment, and with whom we are with, without judgment. This means you are not paying attention, focusing, or dwelling on the past or the future. And, you’re accepting your current situation or moment without judgment.

When you allow yourself to visit the past or think about the future, most often you will find that you become stressed, anxious, unhappy and even downright miserable. Let’s think about a game of cards.

You and your friends are sitting down to a friendly game of cards. Each one of you is holding a set of cards in your hands. It is those cards that you must play with. This is what has been dealt to you. These are the things in your life of which you have no control. You can’t trade or get rid of the cards. You just have to play them the best you can.

mindfulness-playing-cards

As you play one hand after another (life choices and events), you do the very best you can with what you have been dealt. At this moment (the here and now), you can’t pick up the cards from your last turn (the past) and you have no idea what cards will be dealt to you next (the future). So, you just play the cards that are currently in your hand.

When you are playing cards, isn’t this how you have to play each hand you are dealt? Well, your life is no different than that hand of cards. That is the very essence of mindfulness. Stay in the present moment and do the best you can. You can’t go back and change yesterday, last week, last month or 10 years ago. And you have no idea what will happen even an hour from now.

To the best of your ability, focus your attention on this very moment. Practice mindfulness exercises that will help you alleviate the stress and anxiety. When you are able to do this, you will find that it is much easier to find happiness in your life. Listed below are some examples of how to practice mindfulness in your life:

  • Deep breathing – Try one of the many free videos available online that guide you through deep breathing exercises.
  • Take 5 – Notice 5 things you can see, 5 things you can hear, and 5 things touching you. Describe all 15. Go into as much detail as you can.
  • G.L.A.D. – Something you feel grateful for today. Something you learned today. Something you accomplished today. Something that delighted you today. Notice how you feel when you are focused on each of those things.
  • Mindful eating – Take one item, like a raisin, and use all five of your senses to describe it. Think about what it looks like, what does it smell like, does it make a noise, what does it feel like, and how does it taste.

When you take time out of your day, every day, to practice mindfulness, you will discover on your own that doing this kind of re-wires your thinking. Whatever it was that you were thinking about and dwelling on before will be gone. Those uncomfortable feelings will cease or lessen tremendously. In fact, you will feel better.

Go ahead, I dare you. Give it a try!

Music

For the sake of this article, we’re talking about the positive effects on your mood from listening to music. For some people, listening to any type or genre of music will work for them. But, if you’re like me, what is going on in the moment dictates what music I want to listen to. Just remember, there isn’t a right or wrong type of music. This is very personal and it should be your music!

Personally, I can enjoy the beautiful sounds of a Mozart performance all the way to a great rock concert with my favorite 1980’s rock band, Def Lepard. Find the music you enjoy that suits the moment. A word of caution is also needed. As much as music can remind you of good times, great feelings, and happiness; it can also drop you into depression from listening to music that conjures up feelings of despair, unhappiness, and grief.

Plan ahead so you are prepared. Download your favorite upbeat and happy songs to your iPod, mp3 player, smartphone or other devices. Have them ready and accessible at a moment’s notice.

I’m just going to sing a little song in my head,

“Ain’t got no cash, ain’t got no style
Ain’t got no gal to make you smile
But don’t worry, be happy
‘Cause when you’re worried, your face will frown
And that will bring everybody down
So don’t worry, be happy Don’t worry, be happy now.”
Read more: Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry, Be Happy Lyrics | MetroLyrics


As we continue this journey together, I encourage you to keep reading. If you have yet to find your own how or why to happiness, I strongly believe you will. Please come back tomorrow as we explore the letter “N”.

©2017

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