We’re all searching, striving, and desiring as much happiness in our lives as we can possibly have, right? There’s really nothing better than feeling like you’re in a constant state of ease, contentment, and well – happiness. So, why don’t we add a resolution to our list for the New Year. Let’s all resolve to cultivate more happiness in our lives in 2016.
1. Cultivate Connection
While isolation breeds unhappiness, healthy relationships are a true source of happiness. Those who feel really isolated, often turn to drugs and alcohol in order to feel connected to themselves, to others, and to Spirit.
But if we can feel connected to these things without turning to substances, then we’re way ahead of the game. So, think about the ways you can cultivate a deep sense of connection this year.
In your relationships, perhaps you can show your love and attention more freely. (Practice listening more.) To cultivate a strong connection to your center, practice journaling daily, or follow a really good guided meditation.
To increase your connection to something greater than yourself, you might want to increase the amount of time you spend reading uplifting yoga literature, or taking long walks in nature.
2. Cultivate Gratitude
Feeling negative and grateful at the same time is nearly impossible. There’s always something to be grateful for, and neuroscientists have found that the simple act of taking time to remember what you’re grateful for actually produces more dopamine in your brain.
When you place your attention on all the things you’re grateful for, you help a region in your brain called the anterior singular cortex produce more serotonin.
This year, resolve to buy a journal and write down a few things you feel grateful for whenever you begin to feel blue.
3. Cultivate Compassion
Tibetan Buddhism teaches us that the more mindful we are, the happier we are. It also teaches us that the more compassion we have for ourselves and others, the happier we become. We can begin a regular meditation practice to help us increase these two happy characteristics in ourselves.
Shane Perkins, lead teacher trainer at the Yandara Yoga Institute in Baja, Mexico, encourages his students to cultivate compassion by practicing the classic Buddhist Lovingkindness meditation.
“It’s a powerful meditation, which helps us open our hearts to all beings – near and far,” he says. “I encourage everyone – yogis or otherwise – to get really familiar with this one.”
To practice the classic Buddhist Lovingkindness Meditation…
Sit cross-legged or in a position that feels comfortable to you. Close your eyes and let your hands rest on your knees. Now place your attention on the breath. Take a few deep inhalations and exhalations. Now, bring your awareness to your heart center. Breathe deeply, in and out of the heart, letting stress and tension gently melt away.
On an inhalation, think to yourself, “I am healed.”
On an exhalation, think to yourself, “I am whole.”
On the inhale, “I am healed.”
On the exhale, “I am whole.”
Now, think to yourself the following:
On an inhalation, “May I be loving.”
On an exhalation, “May I be loved.”
On an inhalation, “May I be peaceful.”
On an exhalation, “May I bring peace.”
Then move on to the following:
On an inhale, “May I be healed.”
On an exhale, “May I be whole.”
On an inhalation, “May I be loved.”
On an exhalation, “May I be loving.”
Now have the thoughts:
On an inhalation, “May all beings be healed.”
On an exhalation, “May all beings be whole.”
On an inhalation, “May all beings be loved.”
On an exhalation, “May all beings be loving.”
Now think of a person you love very much. Bring them into your mind’s eye and send these loving thoughts to them.
On your inhale, “May this person be loving.”
On your exhale, ”May this person be loved.”
On your inhale, “May this person be peaceful.”
On your exhale, “May this person bring peace.”
Now think of a group of friends, or family members – perhaps a group of people who are suffering somewhere in the world. Offer them these blessings:
On your inhale, “May these people be loving.”
On your exhale, “May they be loved.”
On your inhale, “May they be peaceful.”
On your exhale, “May they bring peace.”
Now think of someone who irks you, or someone who has caused you grief. Offer them the same blessings.
On your inhalation, “May this person be loving.”
On your exhalation, “May this person be loved.”
On your inhalation, “May this person be peaceful.”
On your exhalation, “May this person bring peace.”
Realize that this person is just another human being on his or her evolving path. They too, are dealing with their own light and their own darkness. Wish them only blessings of light and love.
Now take a few last moments to return to yourself:
On your inhalation, think: “May I be loving.”
On the exhale, “May I be loved.”
On your inhalation, “May I be peaceful.”
On your exhalation, “May I give peace.”
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