How to Find Happiness When You’re Overwhelmed and Distracted –
How do we find happiness on the road of our busy modern-day lives?
If you’re like me you probably experience feeling overwhelmed or distracted at least once during each day. You might experience this hourly. Or on your toughest days you might feel continuously overworked, overcommitted, and lacking in focus.
That’s not a happy feeling.
Practicing mindfulness may be the fastest way to get back on the road to happiness.
Feeling overwhelmed? Mindfulness practice can reconnect us to productive simplicity.
Feeling distracted? Mindfulness can reveal that sense of direction and purpose we’ve lost track of.
There is yoga, emotional intelligence training, counting breaths, Zen practice, and thought-labeling. Not to mention guided visualization, listening to music, slow walking and body scanning. (Your own body, that is.)
The list goes on. I’m personally a fan of formal meditation practice.
For the purposes of this discussion, however, what I mean by mindfulness is simply the application of attention.
So what should we be mindful of if we want to find more happiness in our lives?
Mindfulness of Freedoms
There’s an important distinction to be made between:
- How to find happiness and
- How to strengthen the habits that result in happiness.
The first question focuses on hope. The second focuses on practice.
What we’re going to discuss is how we can rise above feeling overwhelmed and distracted by practicing awareness of our essential freedoms.
The “essential freedoms” I’m talking about are different from freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the genre of freedoms put forth by international charters and councils.
Why are you exhausted?
Because your children are not finding happiness, they’re living it by exercising their natural freedoms.
Your children produce happiness through their behavior.
In essence, they practice happiness.
If you’re not a parent, then remembering that you yourself were once a child can provide you with a useful reference point. What kind of activity and behavior made you happy as a kid?
Likely, it was engaging in some form of freedom.
In our search for happiness, we sometimes miss the riches we already possess by virtue of being human.
And those riches arise from exercising our freedoms.
How Did I Lose My Freedom?
Unfortunately, we’re pretty good at putting a nice kink in the garden hose of childhood. We’ve developed ways to reduce the flow of life force in our little ones down to a manageable trickle.
If we look at the realities of public schooling, we can see the evidence of this. Low funding and overpopulated classrooms have made teaching more about crowd management than education. Getting kids to stay in line is the opposite of nurturing freedoms.
Most of us have grown up in some version of the crowd-management system.
We’ve been conditioned to distract ourselves from the practice of happiness. Even the idea of finding happiness is a distraction, because it can’t be found. But happiness can be remembered as our nature.
That’s the role of mindfulness.
After that of course, we have to practice our nature, since we’ve been trained to ignore it.
The idea that we have to practice the habits that produce happiness, like mindfulness, is a little different from the way we’re conditioned to think about our freedoms in western culture.
We tend to think of freedom in terms of what we’re entitled to rather than what we could strengthen and earn by applied effort.
- Children are naturally capable and aware.
- As adults, we’ve become overwhelmed and distracted.
- The capacity for productivity and mindfulness, however, can be regained by practicing our natural freedoms.
What Can I Do to Get My Freedom Back?
The first step is to become aware of the freedoms we have.
Mindfulness of our freedoms is necessary before we can begin to practice them.
Here are the seven freedoms we can observe any young child demonstrating. They are the same freedoms we long to reconnect with as adults.
- The freedom to be present.
- The freedom to feel.
- The freedom to decide.
- The freedom to imagine.
- The freedom to act.
- The freedom to connect.
- The freedom to celebrate.
Mindfulness is an attention practice that brings us back to what is true.
When we come back to our basic instincts as fully present human beings, awareness of our freedom comes naturally.
A powerful second step is to ask questions that will prompt us to exercise those freedoms.
This will be the subject of our future post, 7 Simple Questions to Improve Your Happiness.
Until then, Go Ahead, Practice Freedom.