lifecoachmindfulness2 300x225 Be Happy.  Right Now. Are you completely focused on this page or are you bouncing between multiple tabs, eating a sandwich or thinking about other things you should be doing right now?

I invite you to stop what you’re doing and focus only on one thing: this moment. These words. Let everything else fall away. Just for a couple minutes. Be here now.

Aaaahhhh…

Are thoughts passing through? Sore spots in the body? Perhaps you’re twisted into an uncomfortable, tight position over your keyboard. If so, I invite you to relax into an easy, upright position.

If you’ve been following along, then you are becoming more aware or mindful of the present moment. You may even find that you’re happier than you were a few minutes ago.

Harvard psychologists developed a phone application at trackyourhappiness.org that contacts people randomly to record their current feelings, thoughts, and actions. Using this data, they discovered some very interesting results:

  1. That people are thinking about what is not happening almost as often as they are thinking about what is, and
  2. They found that doing so typically makes them unhappy.

(A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind, Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert, Science)

To put it simply, being in the moment is far more likely to make you happy than letting your mind have its way and wander everywhere. In fact, the study found that people were actually less happy when their minds wandered, no matter what they were doing or what kind of thoughts they were having.

This is not a new idea. In fact, mindfulness meditation is an ancient Buddhist practice of being completely aware of the present moment. As Tibetan Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh writes:

“We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive.”
Peace is Every Step: The Path to Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Not living in the present moment means missing out on your life. When you are projecting your worries and fears into the future or dwelling on past mistakes, you are not in the present. You are not even here – in the body or on the planet. You are wandering in the illusions of your mind, and you’re missing out on the miracle of life happening right in front of your face!

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation master, is known by some as the happiest man in the world. He and other meditation adepts were part of a study by Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin. Davidson’s lab found that when his test subjects were distressed, there was high activity in the right prefrontal cortex and the amygdala of their brains. When they were positive and upbeat, the left prefrontal area was active.

Research showed that when these masters meditated on compassion, the left prefrontal area of the brain and other areas increased significantly, i.e., by up to 100%. Of course, these are meditation masters, so is there still some benefit for the average person?

Well, another study with Davidson and Jon Kabat-Zinn looked at the benefits of learning mindfulness meditation. After meditating 30 minutes a day for eight weeks, even beginners reported greater focus, as indicated by more coherent activity in the left brain. They even reported improved immune function!

So you don’t have to be a meditation master to reap the benefits of being in the moment. Just be here now to start adding up those happiness brownie points!

This is also a great exercise to teach your coaching clients, even if you are not a so-called “spiritual” life coach. No matter what else you share with them, mindfulness meditation will add to both their focus and their clarity! For more life coaching tips, check out Dr. Michael Craig’s free report for coaches!