I find mnemonics great for condensing bucket loads of knowledge into bite sized chunks which I can absorb easily and remember. They’re also useful as accelerated learning tools for clients.
I was doing some research on the use of positive psychology and mindfulness skills for helping to enhance wellbeing within a programme I’m developing and came up with the mnemonic: Namaste. The great thing about these mindfulness tools is that they’re always available to us to use. You just need to look for the opportunity to use them. Enduring happiness is best thought of as something you do, not as a label for someone’s overall personality. It’s formed over time and with effort, rather than something you purchase off the shelf.
A lot of the tools following have been shown, in research, to have increased wellbeing six months and even a year later after first being used. So if you’re in the mood for increasing your levels of happiness, add these as behaviours to your repertoire.
Nurture Self then Others: Learning to nurture yourself first has been found to help in all sorts of ways. Practicing self compassion makes you nicer to be with as a partner because you’re less needy, you’re also more motivated to try new challenges because the thought of failure doesn’t scare you as much. If you’re a carer, you’re less likely to suffer burnout.
Compassion for self means that you’re less likely to suffer from self -esteem issues due to the continual bombardment of negative marketing messages in society today. Like putting the emergency oxygen mask on in a plane, it’s important to learn to nurture yourself first before turning your attention towards others. So give yourself a hug, jump in the bath, light some candles and pamper yourself.
Acceptance of reality: Acceptance of what is, including the ups and downs, the negative emotions and the transient nature of life; liberates us from egoic fear, delusion and the attachments to that which doesn’t last forever.
Acceptance of negative emotions for instance, has been found to lead to fundamental solutions and valued action being pursued as opposed to escaping into avoidant behaviours.
Acceptance of reality involves a continual search for the truth of every situation and then accepting that truth until another ‘truth’ comes along. So is it the red pill or the blue pill for you?
Mindfulness: Probably well known to those familiar with the Buddhist tradition, mindfulness is the ability of focussing intently on whatever task, object or lesson is at hand. Meditating on and connecting with the purpose of becoming the observer of your thoughts and feelings, allows you to respond more effectively to life.
Mindfulness expert John Kabat-Zin once described mindfulness as the paying attention to the present moment, while letting go of judgement, as if our lives depended on it. Which one could argue is true because ‘now’ is the only moment you have in which you can feel anything. Mindfulness helps us to deal with emotions in a healthy way and also trains us to focus our minds on the task at hand for longer.
Acts of Random Kindness: This particular behaviour has quite a few benefits. Firstly and very importantly it gets you out of your own head forcing you to be present. In order for you to decide who, what and how to help, you have to look around.
Then you have to use empathy, another valuable tool, and decide how best to help someone by seeing their situation from their perspective. By doing this you increase the sense of connection between people. We need to develop a more collaborative, connected world community which allows everybody to be able to contribute.
That’s not some fluffy whim, it’s evolution at work. Without it, we’re doomed to follow the individualistic path of competition and capitalistic destruction. Look around, how can you make a difference today?
Savouring Moments: My partner, Emma, told me that Thich Nhat Hahn takes an hour to drink a cup of tea. That’s some savouring. Savouring allows us to appreciate the richness life offers us within each moment. Our consumer society has tried to integrate built-in obsolescence into our lives by making us rush everything we do.
It’s tiring and not very satisfying. Savouring moments is a revolutionary act of disobedience which includes stopping and savouring instead of moving continually like locusts, devouring more and more experiences but not really appreciating life.
Three Good Things: At the end of the day, especially if you’ve judged a day as being bad, get some positive perspective into the mix. On the very worst of days there is always something to be grateful for. Your challenges will have taught you a lesson, even if it’s that you need to develop equanimity in the face of obstacles. It’s a great task to do with a partner because its been suggested that those couples who celebrate each others achievements, stay together.
Engage meaningfully: Mindfulness means loving what you’re doing now. Engaging yourself meaningfully is to go do what you love to do, usually with the purpose of making a difference. Making things better is much better than consuming things on so many levels.
In positive psychology one of the key components to happiness is to be engaged in an activity that has intrinsic reward. In the workplace the word ‘flow’ is often used to describe that state which engenders a feeling of timelessness and satisfaction. Other terms include the ‘Zen‘ state or the ‘peak performance’ zone in sport. What’s interesting is that these states can easily arise from pushing yourself to try new experiences and learn new things, stepping outside your comfort zone. There’s no need to draw up life lists or plan big adventures in order to be happy.
Getting out in nature on a regular basis, being social, mastering a new skill and serving others, have all shown to engender feelings of wellbeing.
Find things you love to do and uncover a purpose for doing them. Once you know what your purpose is, follow it with all the passion you can muster.