You might have heard that to find happiness, you should focus on living in the moment. While there is truth in this, it can also be misleading. Sometimes current circumstances will make you unhappy. Also, even when you focus on the current moment, your feelings will often be tinged with feelings from the past– for better or worse. So, to be happy, it’s important to not just try to live in the moment, but also to do it in a particular way.
Begin by accepting that you will sometimes feel unhappy. The feeling will come, and it will go, just as the tide comes in and goes out. If you can stay with and tolerate what you are feeling, the intensity will eventually subside. This perspective can help you hold onto a sense that you are more than what you are feeling in the moment. So, while you may not be happy in any particular moment, you will have a sense of well-being – a sense that you are okay and will be okay. Along with this comes a long-lasting deep inner peace and appreciation for all of your experiences.
Practice accepting your emotions in the moment by regularly setting aside a few minutes to focus on your feelings. Make sure you are not disturbed during this time. Ask yourself what you are feeling. If you have trouble connecting with your emotions, try focusing on your sensations. A stronger connection with your body may help you to also acknowledge, identify, and label your emotions. If you become distracted from your body sensations and your emotions, choose to refocus on them. Tell yourself that it is okay to feel whatever you are feeling. By doing this, you will likely be more at ease with your emotions and yourself.
After allowing for your emotions, focus on positive aspects of your situation. Consciously savor them, as you would any wonderful meal. This does not mean ignoring difficult or painful emotions, but rather considering the positive in addition to negative aspects of your experience. When you do this, the good feelings can ease the pain or even facilitate healing.
Emotions tend to linger. So, each time you feel happy, the experience uplifts you for a while beyond that moment. If you have just a few positive moments each day, a lingering sense of happiness will extend from one to the other, making for a happy life.
Rather than waiting for this to happen, you can create those feel-good moments – either by engaging in an interesting and fun activity or by thinking back on enjoyable experiences, which can reignite positive feelings and renew a sense of happiness.
The exercises of savoring and creating, or revisiting, feel-good experiences are both wonderful ways to intensify and extend the happy moments of your life. By practicing them regularly, you will feel happier, sustain positive feelings longer, and be more resilient when difficulty hits. Best of all, the more you practice focusing on the positives in your life, the happier you will be and the more you will feel a sense of well-being that transcends momentary joy.
Entries for the Relationships blog are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.