I was once asked, that if a doctor gave me a prescription to spend 20 to 30 minutes twice a day walking and those walks alone would create abundant good health, peace of mind, freedom from worry, increased success in both my personal and professional life would I follow her recommendations?
My teacher was using the metaphor of walking to describe the benefits of meditation.
What if you added three more easy steps to this prescription? Steps that would only add about ten more minutes, to the 20 minutes of meditation each day, and in that brief span of time you could add to the already impressive array of benefits, unconditioned joy and happiness?
There’s research that says you can. Not only have people that use these strategies reported that they’ve been in a better mood, slept better and an overall have more optimistic outlook on life, but their brain scans back that up. Their brains show significant changes that are consistent with those individuals with a more optimistic view of life.
What is the four step happiness prescription?
The first step has already been introduced – meditation.
1. Meditation – I have a great deal about meditation on this site so briefly I will say that when we become quiet we will encounter moments of pure silence and in this space we are connected to our authentic selves. The positive benefits for our body, mind and soul are amazingly extensive.
2. The second step is to “commit three deliberate acts of kindness” every day. Thomas Carlyle wrote that “without kindness, there can be no true joy.” Nurturing social relationships is one of the most powerful strategies for cultivating happiness, and kindness promotes those relationships. This is a “fast-track” program to happiness. One caveat is that you can’t commit the same deliberate acts of kindness each day; they need to be different, random in order for the practice to remain powerful.
The final two practiced are related and designed to help us overcome our inner critic that tends to have a natural negativity bias.
3. As you move through your day, write down three good things that happen to you. If you are too busy in the moment you can wait and write them down later in the evening. However, I believe that it’s more effective to note them as soon after the event as possible and then follow up and review them each evening; sort of a double dose goodness. The good thing do not have to be major life changing experiences, any encounter that leave you feeling good even for a moment are worth noting.
4. An alternative practice is, everyday spend at least five minutes writing in a journal about a good experience you’ve had in the last 24 hours. Don’t worry about your witting skills; as long as you can read back to yourself is all that’s important. You want to be able to trigger a memory of the experience so that you can relive it, even if it’s only for a few moments.
Science tells us that if you can consistently practice a couple of these strategies for seven days you will experience noticeable positive changes and have a happier outlook on life. If you can practice them for 21 days or more you will be the beneficiary of a permanent change in your “happiness set point,” discover a greater peace of mind, a develop stronger immune system and have a deeper sense of overall wellbeing.
Now its your turn to answer the question, “If the doctor gave you a prescription, would you take it?”