How to bring more happiness into your life: joyful attention & kind attention
How to be happier in life…
Your levels of happiness might have decreased in recent times or you may feel that you have never really felt a high level of joy.
You are in the right place, welcome to the first part of my two-part blog series about the components of happiness, things you can do to bring more happiness into your life in very simple ways.
For this series, I’m using work that was published by the Mayo Clinic in 2013 in a book called Stress-Free Living by Dr. Amit Sood who has carried out several research studies looking at ways to improve stress, anxiety, resilience, happiness, wellbeing and quality of life – it’s an excellent resource.
The book categorises different practices we can do to improve our happiness into three groups. The first group is ‘joyful attention’, the second ‘kind attention’ and the third ‘positive interpretations of life’.
One of the ways we can increase joy in our lives is by paying more joyful and kind attention, which are the two components of happiness I will cover in this blog.
Spend time in nature
I don’t mean going for a walk in the park when you end up thinking about what you’ve got to do later, or you’re turning over a conversation you’ve had and maybe somebody said something that wound you up. That’s not going to cut it. If you want to increase joy in your life, time in nature must be present, mindful, and engaged.
It’s stopping and looking at the dew and the beautiful patterns it makes on the leaves. It’s stopping and listening to the birds as they swoop overhead. It’s stopping and actually absorbing the colour around you. It’s stopping. That word again and again for a reason. It’s stopping, dropping out of your daily life and into nature.
Notice the details
If you actually take the time to notice the small details of anything you’re engaging with, it actually increases your joy. When you’re eating something, notice the texture, the colour. Notice, of course, the taste. But what are the different depths of taste?
If you’ve bought a new piece of clothing, notice the details of its stitching, the variation of the texture of the fabric. Notice a small detail in how somebody’s laid out a piece of work for you. Noticing those small details helps you inhabit your life fully.
Part of the reason why we don’t always experience the joy that we’re capable of is that we’re living in our heads. We’re living partially in a fantasy of our own creation and not fully here in the present, in the actual life that we’re leading.
You can cultivate novelty in tiny little things as well as in the bigger things of life. It might be applied to your daily walk by taking another route or walking in the opposite direction.
It might be that you change your beverage – tea instead of coffee. It might be that you meet a friend you would normally meet for drinks and dinner and you go for a walk and breakfast instead. It might be that you make a point at the weekend of going and finding a new town to visit. It might be that you change the style of film that you watch or you read a book you wouldn’t normally pick up.
There are all sorts of ways you can cultivate novelty. It will make a difference to your joy and of course, make a difference to your mental health.
Variety gives me a spring in my step!
Tip: if you’d like to take this practice a little deeper, try cultivating novelty by taking on this challenge – for the first five minutes of any experience, don’t criticise.
As human beings, we instinctively have an immediate, often critical, opinion when somebody is talking. I invite you not to criticise.
When somebody’s telling you a story you don’t immediately get or you think they’re wrong, don’t criticise. When somebody wants you to do something a particular way and it’s not how you would have done it, don’t criticise. Just for the first five minutes and let’s see what happens.
Take a different view of the world
Approach every human being, from all circumstances, from a position of ‘I wish you well’. As well as this, look at the world as you would like the world to look at your children.
How is it that you want the world to look at your children? For me, that brings up feelings of tenderness, of being given a fair chance, of being seen and cherished. How about if we looked at the world with tenderness, recognition, and appreciation?
Can you see how that changes your state? Just thinking about that as an experiment changes your state.
By bringing joyful and kind attention into your life, you create practices that are directly connected with increasing happiness. Consistency is key here, start small and enjoy.
Would you like to be supported in bringing more happiness into your life? I am an experienced Life Coach, here to serve the seekers, those who finally want to let their dreams see the light of day and make them a reality. Learn to love the life you have and build the life you want. Book a coaching session here.