How To Be Happier With Mindfulness
If you wish you were happier but find yourself constantly in a negative mindset, here are 8 tips to be happier by using mindfulness. Learn how to stop listening to the voice inside your head and start loving your life.
Let me start by saying this post is based on a book that has a picture of a unicorn running across the beach on it.
The title is The Untethered Soul. The quote on the front is by some guy named Deepak Chopra.
If you’re a year or two into your personal development journey, you would probably recognize Deepak Chopra as a reputable subject matter expert in the industry, and you would at least be willing to pick the book up off the shelf and see what it has to offer — regardless of the unicorn.
If you’ve just randomly stumbled over to the self help section and you see this book, I can’t even imagine the thoughts that would cross your mind. It would instantly be judged as some wishy washy crazy person self help voodoo book.
Because that’s what we do.
We compare what we see to what we think things should look like, and we categorize it in our mind it based on our previous experiences.
Sadly, this constant judgement is exactly what keeps us from learning from our environment and becoming better versions of ourselves.
We’re missing all the lessons life provides, and we’d get so much more out of it if we opened our hearts and our minds.
When we read this book as part of book club at work (I love my job!), it took me a long time to get through it. I normally read a book a week (here are some of the other ones I recommend) but this one took me at least a month, because it was packed with so many lessons, and all of them were hard.
Related post: 3 Books To Inspire Personal Growth
The truth can be a hard pill to swallow.
It took me a lot of self reflection to realize how badly I needed the advice in this book. I learned all about how we attempt to feel control over our lives by using this mental voice to judge and worry and fear everything going on around us.
This same voice leads us to live discontented, fretful, and unfulfilling lives, until death knocks on our door and reminds us that our time on Earth is ever so fleeting.
I am so grateful that I took the time to read (and highlight, and reread, and contemplate) everything in here because it prompted me to live differently than I have been — slower, more mindfully, and more peacefully.
Today I want to share with you my key takeaways from this book, my favorite quotes (so many quotes!!!) and the things I am choosing to do differently after learning from this book.
// 1 // There is a voice inside your head that never shuts up
It is also never happy and rarely has positive things to say.
Have you ever noticed that the second your feet hit the ground in the morning, your mind goes zooming off a million miles a minute?
The mental chatter begins, and it doesn’t end until it’s way past your bedtime and you finally find a way to turn it off.
My mental voice worries about everything that might, might not, or has already happened. It criticizes everything I do or don’t do. It emphasizes all the ways in which I am not adequate, and complains about all of the things that aren’t perfect.
You’re ready to grow when you finally realize that the “I” who is always talking inside will never be content.DEEPAK CHOPRA
My number one takeaway from this book was that this voice doesn’t have to be there.
There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind — you are the one who hears it.DEEPAK CHOPRA
You are not your thoughts because you are the one observing your thoughts.
You are not your emotions because you are the one feeling your emotions.
So what are you then?
You are the consciousness rooted in the very back, who can choose to observe without getting tied up in all of the melodrama.
So how do you actually do that?
How do you achieve peace in the face of all your problems?
Hint: it’s not by changing the outside world. It’s by understanding why you’re reacting the way you are, and changing your own inner feelings about the situation.
It has nothing to do with them and everything to do with you.
You think that if you change things outside, you will be okay. But the truth is, nobody has ever truly become okay by changing things outside… The only permanent solution to your problems is to go inside and let go of the part of you that seems to have so many problems with reality.DEEPAK CHOPRA
Make a game out of relaxing in the face of all the drama.
// 2 // Your mind thinks it’s in control
After realizing that this never ending voice inside my head is not serving me, I started asking myself WHY? Why does my mind do this and why does it never stop?
It’s because we hate the feeling that we have no control, and we try to create it in our minds.
Like back seat drivers, we are constantly narrating what’s going on around us and how we feel about it … it makes us feel as though we can influence it.
The truth is that most of life will unfold in accordance with forces outside of your control, regardless of what your mind says about it… You can think about it all you want, but life is still going to keep on happening.DEEPAK CHOPRA
In that case, it makes no sense to always be trying to figure things out.
It’s time to learn to still the mind, and let life be.
Those are the baby steps to learning to enjoy it.
Related post: I took a break from trying to figure things out, paused all my goals, and focused on happiness for a few weeks. Here’s how it turned out.
// 3 // Gain some perspective
You are living on a planet spinning around the middle of outer space, and you’re either worrying about your blemishes, the scratch on your new car, or the fact that you burped in public. It’s not healthy…DEEPAK CHOPRA
We rarely take the time to sit back and think about the big picture.
The reality is, there is so much more to life than today’s problems. They will be insignificant ten years from now, but they are sucking up all of your energy, and draining you of your ability to enjoy your life.
If you want to be happy, find ways to remind yourself of your own insignificance.
One way to do this is through nature.
Go outside and look up at the great big sky every night. The stars will mesmerize you and leave you feeling very small, but in a good way. You can also do this by watching the waves roll across the ocean. Or hiking a great big giant mountain.
Nature is a wonderful reminder of how much more there is to the world than us and our tiny problems.
// 4 // Let it go
When something triggers you to react, take a deep breath and let it go.
Literally relax your shoulders, and relax your heart.
Yes, it’s difficult. It’s a life long process to hit this level of peace, but it is so essential to your daily joy.
Don’t stuff up the emotions you feel when something triggers you, because it will only be harder to let them out later. Just breathe it out and let it go.
Don’t let it take up the mental space or the energy in your life. Getting all caught up in those feelings feeds the cycle. Don’t even turn toward it.
It’s simply a matter of taking the risk that you are better off letting go than going with the [negative] energy.”DEEPAK CHOPRA
So, does this mean you can’t ever feel upset again? Absolutely not. It simply means that you are able to step back and watch your mind create its little melodrama, while you keep breathing and letting go.
This is similar to meditation, where you don’t try to stop thoughts from coming in, you just let them pass right on by when they do appear.
It’s effortless, not forceful.
Watch it happen, and watch it stop.
Deepak Chopra recomends that you “fall behind the noise.”
- Relax your shoulders – literally take a big breath and drop them down.
- Acknowledge that your mind is reacting – “Wow! Look at how upset my mind is getting because that person cut me off in traffic. This is interesting.”
- Create daily reminders not to engage in the melodrama — every time you sit down, or get in the car, or pick up your phone, take a deep breath and remind yourself that everything is just as it needs to be.
And remember, it isn’t easy, but you will only get better at it.
Practice remaining centered and you will find calm in even the most turbulent times.
If you can learn to remain centered with the smaller things, you will see that you can also remain centered with bigger things.DEEPAK CHOPRA
// 5 // You have complete control over how you feel
The natural ups and downs of life can either generate personal growth or create personal fears. Which of these dominates is completely dependent upon how we view change.DEEPAK CHOPRA
So many people resist change because it makes them uncomfortable. It forces them to try new things and fail at them before they succeed.
We’ve been conditioned to believe failure is bad, and to avoid it in pursuit of perfection.
We resist anything that can potentially make us look foolish, and in doing so we resist anything that is new, different, or challenging.
If you want to grow and be free to explore life, you cannot spend your life avoiding the myriad things that might hurt your heart or mind.DEEPAK CHOPRA
If we can shift our perspective on this, we can realize that we have complete control over how we feel about everything in our lives.
Why should anything that anyone says or does cause you to get disturbed? You’re just on a planet spinning around the middle of absolutely nowhere. You came here to visit for a handful of years and then you’re going to leave. How can you live all stressed-out over everything? Don’t do it.DEEPAK CHOPRA
// 6 // Happiness is a choice
People tend to burden themselves with so many choices. But, in the end, you can throw it all away and just make one basic, underlying decision: Do you want to be happy, or do you not want to be happy? It’s really that simple.DEEPAK CHOPRA
The secret sauce, is that there are no limits around it.
There are no ifs, ands, or buts… You want to qualify it. You want to say that as long as this doesn’t happen, or as long as that does happen, then you’re willing to be happy. That’s why it seems like it is out of your control. Any condition you create will limit your happiness. You simply aren’t going to be able to control things and keep them the way you want tem. You have to give an unconditional answers.DEEPAK CHOPRA
Decide today that you want to be happy.
The second your mind starts to judge, criticize, or worry, let go of it, realize it is not you, and do not engage in the melodrama. Just watch it pass.
The fact remains that you were born and you are going to die. During the time in between, you get to choose whether or not you want to enjoy the experience.DEEPAK CHOPRA
Do not make your happiness conditional upon the behavior of other people. It’s already bad enough that you make it conditional upon your own behavior, but when you hang the hat on someone else’s head, you are in serious trouble.
This is true for your husband/wife/partner! As I heard Brooke Castillo say, you need to treat your husband like they are a puppy! The only thing they are there for is for you to snuggle and kiss and love whenever you want. But as soon as you make them responsible for YOUR happiness, your marriage is in trouble and you are in trouble.
Own your happiness.
But what about if you lose your job? Or your parents die? Or you best friend moves across the country?
Your mind will tell you that it’s not reasonable to stay open when these things happen. But you have limited time left in your life, and what’s really not reasonable is to not enjoy life.DEEPAK CHOPRA
The only thing we want out of life is to feel enthusiasm, joy, and love. You can choose to do that regardless of what is going on around you. If you can feel happiness inside, then it doesn’t make any difference where you live, or what you drive, or the price tag on your clothes.
The only reason this feels so difficult is because nobody else is doing it. We’re used to accepting the fact that
- we have to obsess over everything that’s going on in the world,
- we have to pass judgement on everything we see, and
- we have to make things right (usually by complaining about all the things that are wrong in some way)
This has become the norm, but you must dare to be different.
Dare to be happy.
// 7 // Take down your walls
All of your thoughts, emotions, dreams, fears, views, concepts, opinions, and beliefs have created walls around your life. Now, you try to fit everything inside those walls, and avoid anything that doesn’t match up.
If you want to see how restrictive your walls are, just start walking toward them… the closer you get, the more you will have the urge to pull back… but because you avoid running into them, they lock you inside their perimeter… because you are not willing to approach them, you cannot see what is beyond them.DEEPAK CHOPRA
So whether you’re afraid of heights, or terrified of starting up your own business, or uncomfortable with meeting new people, you are limiting yourself and your life.
Dare to run straight through your walls, and experience everything that exists on the other side!
// 8 // Don’t forget you are going to die
Our time here is oh so temporary. We often take it for granted. We assume we are going to be around for the next 80 years and we get so caught up in the being busy and the being productive and the caring about what everybody else thinks.
Nobody talks about death.
People don’t keep it at the front of their mind because it’s scary and it’s hard to come to terms with… they lose their ability to live from a place of gratitude and peace.
Let’s say you’re living life without the thought of death, and the Angel of Death comes to you and says, “Come, it’s time to go.” You say, “But no. You’re supposed to give me a warning so I can decide what I want to do with my last week I’m supposed to get one more week.” Do you know what Death will say to you? He’ll say, “My God! I gave you fifty-two weeks this past year alone. And look at all the other weeks I’ve given you. Why would you need one more? What did you do with all those?” If Death asked that, what are you going to say? How will you answer? “I wasn’t paying attention… I didn’t think it mattered.” That’s a pretty amazing thing to say about your life.DEEPAK CHOPRA
Are you bold enough to reflect regularly on how you would live that last week?
- Would you stop bothering the people that you love?
- Would you treat everyone you met with kindness?
- Would you put away your phone while you played with your kids?
- Would you feel the sunshine on your face when you went outside?
If you challenge yourself to live as though it were your last week, your mind may come up with all kinds of suppressed desires. It may start talking about all the things that you’ve always wanted to do, and you may think you had better go do them. You will soon see that’s not the answer. You have to understand that it is your attempt to get special experiences from life that makes you miss the actual experience of life.DEEPAK CHOPRA
If it were your last week, you would not pick up and move across the world.
You would cherish those closest to you and spend your last moments soaking in all of the little things that make life what it is.
So stop pretending that you need this goal or that achievement to make you happy, or to make your life worth it.
That has nothing to do with it.
You need to live in the moment you’re in and enjoy what every day has to offer, while you keep doing the things that make you happy.
And if chasing that big goal is one of them, power to you! But if snuggling on the couch with your pup and reading books to your kiddos is one of them, that is no less meaningful!
It shouldn’t take death to challenge you to live at your highest level. Why wait until everything is taken from you before you learn to dig down deep inside yourself to reach your highest potential?DEEPAK CHOPRA
Here’s the thing, we tend to get caught up in all of the things that don’t matter, and we forget about the things that do.
We let our thoughts run wild and they make us feel crappy day after day. We don’t hold our minds accountable for the trouble they cause. We accept this part of ourselves and do little to change it because nobody talks about it.
You have the chance right now to change the narrative inside your own head.
If you want to be happier, live more mindfully.
- Notice the chatter
- Let go of your need for control
- Remember how big the universe is
- Let go of the things that tick you off
- Decide how you want to feel
- Do the things that scare you
- Remember life passes quickly
- Stay true to yourself.
The spiritual journey is one of constant transformation. In order to grow, you must give up the struggle to remain the same, and learn to embrace change at all times.DEEPAK CHOPRA
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What do you do to quiet the voice inside your mind?