What if I told you that for 10 minutes a day you can become truly happier for longer periods of time and not have to spend a penny?
… I think I just did!
Second to being burned out, most clients mention they aren’t happy in their current job, and they are actively looking for another one. Usually they find another one and within a year and end up back in the same predicament—too much work, a boss that’s disengaged, not enough resources, and feeling like they should be paid more.
I ask them what would make them truly happy, and I usually get blank stares.
For all the money, time, and energy we spend on trying to be “happy,” you think we’d know more about it.
The set-point theory of happiness explains that our level of subjective well-being is determined primarily by heredity factors like genes, neurochemicals, and personality traits ingrained in us early in life.
Your level of “happiness” can change transiently in response to positive situations (like a new job) and negative events (like getting a micromanaging new boss), but research concluded that happiness returns to baseline within a year of changes in extrinsic factors (like winning the lottery or becoming a paraplegic).
Literally, you can win the lottery or become paraplegic and over time you will return to the same level of happiness. Essentially, we habituate to situations and their effects (positive or negative) over time.
Research has also concluded that internal factors (like meditation, altruism, and compassion) can actually increase that happiness set-point and lead to long-term results.
Practicing mindfulness will do more for your happiness level then winning the lottery.
For most of you who’ve taken my programs, in the beginning and on “those days when your inbox fills up, fire drills rage, and your stress levels rise,” the connection between the meditation and happiness can seem at odds.
“Happiness is more of the good stuff and less of the bad,” Epstein says. “With a steady meditation practice, we start to have higher highs and shallower lows.”
On being podcast interviewed Matthieu Ricard, “A French-born Tibetan Buddhist monk and a central figure in the Dalai Lama’s dialogue with scientists. He is dubbed “The Happiest Man in the World” after his brain was imaged. But he resists this label. In his writing and in his life, he explores happiness not as pleasurable feeling but as a way of being that gives you the resources to deal with the ups and downs of life and that encompasses many emotional states, including sadness.”
Dan Harris, news reporter and mindfulness expert explains, “Meditation makes the peaks higher and longer for two reasons. First, you’re actually awake and aware enough to enjoy the good things as they’re happening, and you’re not leaping so quickly onto the next hit of dopamine.”
I am sure you can relate: How many of us work so hard to take time off, and when we’re off, we’re on the beach constantly thinking about work or the “thing” that is stressing us out.
We’re constantly living in the future instead of experiencing all the joy in the present moment.
So, before you make any drastic career changes, consider starting a mindfulness practice.
“Although changing exterior circumstances does not change our ‘set’ levels of happiness, changing our interior landscape, through training the mind, can.”