Are you ready to achieve happiness and live a more fulfilling life?
When is the last time you were present in the moment? I mean, really fully present. Not playing with your kids while checking your phone or running through a mental check list. Not going for a walk while thinking about a comment your friend said. But actually being 100% in that moment, with all your thoughts and attention focused on what was right in front of you?
I can tell you that for me this doesn’t happen often. However, when I make the intention to live 100% in the moment, it’s magic. I see my life in a completely new way, and everything looks more meaningful, more colorful. I notice individual leaves as they sway in the trees. I notice how the wind feels as it ruffles my hair.
Happiness is found in the present.
The other day, I was rocking my toddler to sleep for nap. I don’t rock him because I have to, but honestly because he falls asleep so quickly, I barely get through one song before he’s fast asleep (not so with bedtime, oohboy!) Usually, I rock him until I notice he’s asleep, then I transfer him to his bed.
But on this particular afternoon, I decided to stay. Just for a few minutes. I teared up when I realized I have to commit this moment to memory, because all too soon, it will be purely in the past.
When he is grown and out of the house, will I remember how it felt to have a sleeping child in my arms? Will I remember his warm little body, breathing softly on my belly? Or the fan swirling air through my frizzy hair, the whir of the sound machine, or the afternoon sunlight spilling through the blinds? Will I remember how these quiet moments, in between the tantrums and struggles, were pure bliss?
I went to set him down in his bed and then looked at the clock. Six minutes had passed. In the time it takes me to boot up Youtube on my TV, I had created a lifelong memory.
How to achieve happiness in five minutes flat
There are many ways we can work towards a better life, but by far the easiest way is to be grateful for what you have. Here is a quick exercise for creating happiness with a little amount of time and absolutely no money:
- Pick a time when you’re doing something you love, preferably with your kids. (The value of this exercise is easy to see when we direct it towards our precious children.)
- Take a moment and breathe. Survey the scene around you. Look at the various people, animals and items. Give them each some time, as if you’re looking at them for the first time.
- Listen to the sounds. Do you hear cars traveling or birds chirping? Do you hear your child talking or the crunch of sticks under the toy car?
- Find the little things you’re grateful for and savor them. I’ll let my mind simmer over the image of sunlight filtering through my son’s hair, or how he’s using a stick to “fill up” the gas in his toy car. I watch the leaves blow in the wind, and squirrels circling the tree trunk.
- Spend at least five minutes in this aware state. Sometimes it’s easy for me to keep going; other times more than 30 seconds is a drag. The important thing is to try to shoot for that five minute mark. Five minutes of being fully immersed in the moment is enough that I will likely view it as the highlight of my day at bedtime.
I do this often when I’m playing outside with my son. I love my son, but being outside when it’s 100 degrees and sunny or 30 degrees and windy…that I do not like. Doing this exercise makes me forget (or at least turns my focus away from) the things that I hate about being outside. It helps me to commit these moments to memory instead of spending the whole time being impatient.
A note about repeating
Number 6 in the exercise says to repeat. You will find more value out of this exercise the more you do it. Like any muscle, if you want to achieve happiness, you have to work at it. Practicing this, you can even start to find value in mundane situations.
Take for example the time I was standing in my garage waiting for contractors to measure and look at a beam that needs repair. I was bored, thought about going to grab my phone or my planner, but instead decided to take the time to be in the moment. So, standing in my garage, the mundane and cluttered place that I walk through every days, I started to look at it with new eyes. I noticed how we still had old lights that we had pulled down but never gotten rid of. I noticed how the yard tools hung on the wall, three of which were parallel, but the fourth ran across it. It almost looked like pop art.
By living in the moment, I turned a boring situation into one of happiness and patience.
In the next few days, find a time to put down your cell phone, block out the barrage of incoming thoughts, and take a few minutes. Survey the scene, and take note of what you see, hear, smell, feel, etc. Look for moments that you’re grateful for and focus on them to commit them to memory.
Tell me in the comments below, how did this exercise of living in the moment help you to achieve happiness? What were you doing? What did you experience?