Follow these three mindful steps that I encourage our clients to use at 180 Sanctuary. Why? So that you can bring small but good moments into your awareness.
By 180 SANCTUARY @ PURIPAI VILLA
Last night I spoke with a close friend of mine, that lives in another country, that I had not connect with since COVID-19 started. Whilst I was asking him how he was, he surprisingly said he had just tasted the best blueberry he had ever had in his life.
His joy was so refreshing to hear, despite the fundamental fact that he felt sad and heavy-hearted because of the current state of the world. Nonetheless he was able to find happiness in a cup of blueberries.
Joy can be like that – small, modest, disarming. It can be hiding in a blueberry, a warm bath or even lyrics in a song. More often than not we have to let our guard down and enjoy these small moments of joy. We should try our best to bring these moments into our awareness.
I understand that our attention can most of the time be already occupied with irritation when we hear construction going on in the background, or when we feel sad because a close friend is ill, or maybe even anxiety when we lose our jobs. I also understand that our attention can also be pulled by much larger forces such as deep uncertainty about the future. However I would like to assure you that through mindfulness practice you can learn to relate to these knee-jerk moments with composure.
How to Find Joy in Darker Times
Just like sadness and irritation, more subtle moments of happiness can arise during the course of the day. It is important to try and connect to these moments. Equally more important is to understand, that by bringing awareness to these small good moments, we are not exactly in denial of everything else that might be going wrong. Instead try to use these moments as an opportunity for honest appraisal of what might be arising during these particular moments.
For my friend, it was finding brief joy in the taste of blueberries. For me, it is writing this article. For you, it may even be reading this article (I hope so) or drinking a glass of refreshing water. What I am trying to say is that connecting with brief moments like these not only feels good, but it plays with our hard-wired tendency towards negativity.
Why We Tend to Only See the Negative
Even without a pandemic such as COVID-19, as humans we tend to be downcast in nature. The brain can easily register negative experiences than positive ones. The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones.
One simple but practical way to counter our negativity bias is to pay attention to joyful moments. Mindfulness is the key to lapping up moments of happiness. It can be challenging but very rewarding.
At 180 Sanctuary I coach clients to use the following mindfulness practices so that they can cultivate joy in to their lives. I hope you will give them a try as well.
- 1. Slow Down
It can take the brain a couple of seconds to register that something good is coming your way. By slowing down you are able to let your mind, body and soul to acknowledge that pleasure is present. Savoring the flavor of a juicy piece of watermelon allows you to enjoy it more. Pausing to feel your bare feet in on a white sand beach can also allow you to enjoy the moment more. Take your time and enjoy.
- 2. Non-Problematic Joy
Sometimes, finding joy is as simple as noticing what’s not wrong. In the midst of pleasant and unpleasant, we can often neglect the contentment of a neutral position. By paying more attention to the simple joyous things in life, we are able to appreciate them much more and find gratitude at the same time. Some examples of simple joyous things can be the birds chirping in the morning or the sun setting in the evening. Knowing that you are not entirely at the mercy of agitation can bring a lot of joy!
- 3. Shift Your Frame of Reference
Look for joying in the nooks and crannies of your life. Too often we reserve joy only for milestones such as weddings, birthdays or a promotion at work. Don’t think of joy as belonging only to big events because this means you are sidelining the many small pleasures found along the way. Finding joy in your daily routine means it is far more accessible and creates a positive feedback loop. The more you attend to joy in your everyday life than the more you experience it. The more you experience is means the more joyous you become.