Meditation has been increasing in popularity over the past decade or so as many people have come to recognize the benefits of this practice. The process of meditation is a practice where you work to train your mind on how to redirect your thoughts and improve focus. But, can the practice of meditation lead to an increase in happiness?
The benefits people enjoy from meditation practices such as reduced stress or more restful sleep can lead to a boost in happiness. Read on for an in-depth look at how meditation can result in increased happiness in your daily life.
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
One of the common reasons people turn to meditation is to help relieve stress and reduce anxiety. Stress hormones often increase your heart rate and you become anxious. Meditating during those moments can bring a sense of calm. Pausing and turning your thoughts inward trains your mind to become tranquil.
“When I would get those bouts of stress and then anxiety crept in, nothing could bring me out of it,” shares Selom Agbitor, Co-Founder of Mad Rabbit Tattoo. In those moments, it was debilitating. I had to find a way to manage it and luckily, meditation helped. It’s definitely a practice because I’ve had to work to where I’m at now – to find that calmness in those moments of high anxiety.”
For some people, treating anxiety and stress with medication isn’t the right method for them, so they turn to meditation like Rachel Roff, Founder and CEO of Urban Skin Rx. “Stress wasn’t an ongoing challenge for me, so I wasn’t interested in medication as a treatment method. I would become stressed when work or life became overwhelming. I’d heard meditation could be useful and gave it a shot. It did the trick and now, whenever I start to feel too stressed out, I have the means to relax my mind, overcome that stress, and find happiness in my day.”
Improves Mental Clarity
With the introduction of social media, attention spans are getting smaller and smaller. The constant scrolling and consumption of information can have an effect on mental clarity. Meditation practices help rewire our brains to focus more acutely which results in an increased attention plan throughout our days.
“In my line of work, I need to keep my mind sharp,” Erin Banta, Co-Founder and CEO of Pepper Home explains why he turned to meditation to help with memory function. “Meditation has drastically improved my focus and the clarity I enjoy now is incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a keen attention span.”
With or without technology, the mind does tend to decrease in clarity with age. But meditation can be an effective method of improving memory and finding clarity.
“I always thought forgetfulness came with age. I chalked it up to that whenever I would forget about a meeting or where I left my cup of coffee,” shares Marcus Hutsen, Business Development Manager at Patriot Coolers. “Then a friend told me that meditation could help. I was skeptical but gave it a try. At first, I just enjoyed the tranquility of the practice, but as I kept it up, I suddenly realized I was forgetting things less and less. I’m happy I figured out a way to combat that pesky forgetful behavior.”
Our brains are hardwired to think creatively, but when our minds are clouded with many other things, divergent thoughts are blocked. Mindful meditation helps awaken the areas of our brain that promote creativity. “I rely on innovative ideas in my work,” Marilyn Zubak, Marketing Lead at Snif explains. “I need to keep my mind open to creative thoughts and meditation helps me with that. Clearing my mind and putting aside any stressors or fears lets creativity in.”
Trying to force creative thought is counter-intuitive. Often it’s something that needs to develop organically in order to make a true impact. But when you’re blocked creatively, it’s difficult to power through effectively. Shawn Munoz, Manager at Pure Relief uses meditation as a hack to find creative thought with their team.
“When I’m working on a project with my team and we hit a wall creatively, we go through a meditation practice together. Sometimes we’re brainstorming so long that our minds become clouded. Innovative thoughts aren’t pushing through and meditation helps us find clarity. That’s been more effective than taking breaks in other ways, such as stopping for a snack or moving around. What we really needed to work on was our minds. We’ve unlocked many creative ideas post-meditation and we’re much happier doing it.”
Helps Achieve More Restful Sleep
Sleep is something many adults struggle with, typically because they aren’t logging enough hours of rest. Some people struggle to fall asleep while others can’t seem to stay asleep. And even those who do fall asleep and stay asleep don’t feel well-rested when they awake. But getting the rest you need is essential for your health.
Luckily, meditation can help. It did the trick for Anamika Goyal, Head of Architecture and Design at Cottage. “My mind used to race as I laid in bed to fall asleep. I was consumed with thoughts of work, family, life, all of it. I couldn’t turn it off and I would toss and turn for what felt like hours. I could feel my lack of sleep in the morning. I turned to meditation as a means of calming my mind and it worked. Deep breaths and refocusing my thoughts made me calmer and I now fall asleep quickly. I wake up happy and refreshed. It’s a feeling that lasts throughout the day.”
A meditation practice can be effective at helping with sleep even if you don’t already struggle with insomnia. “My day starts and ends with meditation,” shares Guna Kakulapati, CEO of CureSkin. “Before I get into bed, I meditate. It’s the last thing I do each day. No matter how hectic of a day I’ve had, I’m able to relax my body and relax my mind to find heightened happiness. I sleep well and I wake up feeling rested. I start right away on my morning meditation, pinpoint that happiness, and head into my day prepared for anything.”
Many types of meditation practice focus on finding a positive mindset to generate positive feelings and actions towards others. Being kind to others delivers a kind of dopamine hit that leads to feelings of happiness. When you pay for someone’s coffee in line at Starbucks, for example, it feels good to make someone’s day. When you reach a level of meditation that invokes you to be kinder, it makes you happier.
Phillip Akhzar, CEO of Arka didn’t realize how his attitude was affecting the people in his life and used meditation to help him be kinder. “Admittedly, my attitude was less than kind. I knew I was feeling stressed but I didn’t realize how that was affecting those around me until someone, very politely, brought it up to me. I didn’t want to leave others feeling poorly, so I tried finding a more positive outlook through meditation. I’m much kinder to others and it makes me feel really good. Just by being nice. How simple! It’s made me feel happier as well.”
Meditation doesn’t just promote kindness to others. It can be effective in being kinder to yourself. After all, meditation helps you turn inward and really evaluate what’s going on in your mind. You address your thoughts head-on and learn how to recognize and process those feelings.
“Through meditation, I’ve learned to be kinder to myself,” shares Isaiah Henry, CEO of Seabreeze Management. “I always considered myself to be kind to others but didn’t realize I wasn’t turning that inward. I’ve learned to be more compassionate about my feelings – good or bad. I’m empathetic to my struggles. I address my feelings and validate them. I didn’t expect that meditation could help me be kinder to myself but it has and now I’m so grateful for it. I’m a happier person because of it.”
Meditation has many incredible benefits for the mind and many of them lead right back to feeling an overwhelming sense of happiness. Remember, meditation is a practice. It’s not something that you master straight away. You have to do a little bit of work to find the right kind of practice that works for your lifestyle.
It will take time to learn how to find your groove with meditation. And once you do, you have to keep at it. That’s how you continue to enjoy the benefits. Aim to make meditation a part of your everyday life so you can gain the incredible benefits of having a calmer mind that reduces stress, awakens creativity, promotes kindness, and so much more.