This week I have been reflecting on what really makes for happiness, and why it is all too often such a fleeting emotion.
I think the essential problem with finding and hanging onto happiness is the fact that so many of us spend our day to day existence looking 'forward' to something about to happen or ruminating over something that has long past rather than experiencing in full what actually is.
The term TGIF (thank goodness its friday) is the perfect example of how many of us view our working week and how we see the intervening days between Monday and Friday as simply a prelude to the 'weekend' those precious two days during which we get to do what makes us really 'happy'.
However, every week that we begin by counting down from Monday to Friday is a week that we fail to live to its fullest. It also suggests that we are living 5/7 of our lives in a state of sub-optimal happiness and fulfillment.
Similarly, the more we think about the inevitable end of something we are truly enjoying the less we begin to enjoy it as our focus shifts to a future point in time where we perceive the happiness of the present moment to have passed.
Like the majority of people, I am not immune from these 'mind over moment' struggles. Staying engaged is a battle waged within the mind - the part that is immersed in the moment, v's the part that is busy reflecting on the moments past, and worrying about the moments yet to come.
The key to extending our ability to stay engaged is to understand what we can do to maximise the experience.
Whenever I really want to make sure I can be 'right there' I take off my watch, turn off the phone, and give my full attention to the task at hand, or the people I am with. The awareness of time, and the allure of 'multi-tasking' are the number one threats to our ability to simply turn ourselves; mind, body and soul over to the moment and experience it to its fullest.
Allow yourself to delve into the sensory experience of the moment and enjoy what you are doing for its own sake - whether it is completing a report, listening to music, doing the shopping or playing with the kids - tune into the moment and find the joy in the experience.
And when that moment has passed, release it with gratitude for all that it had to offer and move your attention and intention to the next moment. Time does move on, and you have to move on with it.
The key is not to get stuck in a retrospective analysis of the past but to continue to experience each and every new moment as it unfolds to its fullest and as a result extend those fleeting periods of happiness for ever longer periods of time until happiness becomes the normal state of being.
Here are my top strategies for maximising my 'happiness in the moment':
1. Don't waste the current moment by dwelling on a past one or looking forward to a future one.
2. Invest your full mental, emotional and physical energy in the here and now.
3. Focus your energy on keeping your thoughts on the task at hand rather than racing ahead to the future or dragging you back to the past.
4. Use your ambitions for the future as motivators, but don't let those future thoughts interfere with experiencing the here and now.
5. Enjoy your successes, and learn from your mistakes, but do not allow either to dominate your current moment.
Experiencing each and every moment for what it is, not only helps you train your mind to remain present and engaged for extended periods of time until it becomes the norm but it also ensures you make the most of your whole life day by day, week by week, and year by year.
About Deidre Dattoli
Speaker, author, and mentor, Deidre is highly sought after for her expertise in the fields of personal presence and leadership development.
Deidre is passionate about leading and facilitating the kind of personal change that enables individuals to live and lead from their inner place of brilliance.
To find out more about Deidre Dattoli, please visit www.deidredattoli.com