Making Happiness a Habit with Mindfulness

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The road to happiness can start at any age, according to Susan Kaiser Greenland, author of The Mindful Child. Using mindfulness techniques to focus on positive habits while breaking the old, she believes that children have the capacity to find happiness and balance that can remain with them through adulthood.

What exactly is mindfulness? Expert and creator of mindfulness-based stress reduction Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn puts it this way, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” It makes sense that the sooner a person can develop these skills, the easier it may be to maintain: here's an example from Greenland's recent Huffington Post article:

By repeating a habit we reinforce the brain circuits associated with it and make the habit stronger. The stronger the habit, the stronger the neural pathways, and the stronger the effort and determination required to break it. If teenagers check their Facebook pages first thing in the morning, every morning, checking Facebook will soon become their default, automatic response to waking up. If they hike or meditate first thing in the morning, every morning, hiking or meditating will soon become their default, automatic response to waking up. The more a habit is repeated the stronger it becomes and the more likely it is to become a person's automatic response to a specific experience.

There's an established, proven curriculum that uses mindfulness to help people develop life-skills that will lead them towards happiness. It focuses on creating habits around three universal qualities:

  • Making compassion a habit.
  • Making concentration a habit.
  • Making balance a habit.

Makes sense, right? Numerous scientific studies are beginning to prove that mindfulness is a powerful tool for achieving overall well-being and happiness. Breaking habits sure isn't easy, but a little discipline can go a long way if you're ready to change your life. Greenland's advice is directed towards children, but it can be applied to the life of any adult looking to find balance.

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Karla April Moreno

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