One way to be happier is to learn how to focus on the present moment.

Really, what does that mean?

Research shows that we are happier when we are focused on exactly what we are doing on a moment to moment basis vs. focusing on the past or future and allowing our mind to wander. When you focus on the future, you are speculating about what might happen. When you are thinking about the past, you are generally worrying about something that went wrong (self-blame or blaming others), what someone thought or what they meant (speculative and usually negative), and occasionally on something pleasant. The surprising finding is that even when you focus on something in the past that is pleasant, you are generally less happy than when you are focused on the present. Counter-intuitive right?

Researcher Matt Killingsworth tested the cause of peoples happiness (trackyourhappiness.org) by sending thousands of project participants text messages on a regular basis asking a few questions.

1) How do you feel on a scale from very bad to very good?

2) What are you doing?

3) Are you thinking about something other than what you are doing? (a test of mind wandering)

The results showed that they were almost always happier when they were thinking about what they were doing even when compared to thinking about something pleasant in the past or future.

So what is happiness anyway?

It might be described as a state of consciousness through which you experience pleasant feelings and gratitude for life on a moment to moment basis and you are focused on all the amazing things that surround you. 

We often fall into a state of unhappiness when we are focused on those aspects of life that we judge to be unpleasant. It might be an argument you've had with your partner or spouse, a misbehaving child, an unpleasant colleague or any number of other of life's many incidents. But can we avoid having our minds wander and learn to focus on things which are happening right now? It turns out that we can. We have the capacity to change the way our brain thinks as a result of something called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to build chemical bridges and through repetition, build new synapses from one neuron to another. This process literally rewires the brain and changes the way that you think. It has the ability not only to help you be happier, it can actually provide healing for many types of neurological afflictions. A great book to read on neuroplasticity is Dr. Norman Doidges book, "The Brain's way of Healing".

Another way is to learn Mindfulness.

Mindfulness utilizes neuroplasticity in a particular way that causes cortical thickening on the left side of the frontal lobe of your brain and the increase of the ratio of left activity to right activity which coincidentally correlates with an ability to focus on the present and leads to greater happiness. Mindfulness has proven to have many positive physiological and psychological effects. 

The point is this; if you are unhappy (and in this case I'm not referring to clinical depression, which is something quite different), if you are having a difficult time in your life, work or relationships, there is something that you can do about it and if you don't want to do it on your own or don't know how to start, feel free to give me a call (1-289-201-3292).

I am always at your service.

Garth Schmalenberg

MA, B.Eng, CPCC