Discovering Basic Happiness

As we mentioned in our previous post, by making a slight but radical shift in the way we relate to ourselves and the world around us, we can positively transform our lives. So what kind of shift are we talking about?  First let’s talk about the way we relate to ourselves.

Most of the time we think just because it is a habit, not because there is actually something important to think about. We are constantly responding to our senses, thinking I don’t like this odor or that person looks really nice. Then we start to think about that thought and so on, in an almost endless chain until another sense impression cuts through and the whole thing starts again. Sometimes we even get stuck in a stressful loop going over and over the same set of tortuous thoughts without ever getting anywhere.

The key to Basic Happiness is to get used to being fully present in the moment, just as it is. The more we are able to be in the present moment, the less the ingrained habit of thinking about thoughts will be able to trap us.

What makes Basic Happiness a radical change is that we learn to slow down the habitual running down thoughts and emotions and looping them over and over again and again even when we don’t want to.

We can learn to do this by spending a little time practicing remaining present each day and we call this meditation. The practice of meditation is an incredibly effective way to become more and more familiar with remaining present. While meditating, we practice reacting to whatever comes to our mind in the exact same way – no matter what sensations, thoughts or emotions arise, we do not follow after them. Instead of thinking about them, we remain anchored, fully present in the moment.

Personally, we have used a series of simple, easy-to-do meditation practices that we took on step by step. First we calm our mind through a meditation practice that is called creating-space. Next we meditate by focusing our attention on an object such as our breath or an inspiring image. Eventually, we learned how to use even things that are normally considered the enemy of meditation (e.g. uncomfortable bodily sensations, annoying sounds and smells and so forth) as powerful tools to bring us into the present moment.

Finally it’s important you don’t just leave the present moment behind when you leave our meditation session. You need to become so familiar with just being present that it becomes a stronger habit than habitual thinking. The first step is to meditate a few minutes everyday, to become more and more familiar with just being present.