How meditation can help you stay happy

If you meditate regularly you’ve probably noticed that it helps when you’re feeling stressed out and can calm down your mind. You might also have noticed that over time you’ve become a jollier person. Research suggests that meditation doesn’t only give you a quick fix when you need to find inner peace, but can actually make you an overall happier person in the long run.

Happiness index

If you look around at the people you associate with you’ll notice that everyone seems to have a different level of general happiness. Some people just seem to embrace misery, while others appear to enjoy life more. For a long time scientists believed that everyone had a set happiness index, that was determined by genes. You can see it as a kind of happiness baseline that people revert back to, even after devastating events.

Happiness baseline and meditation

Luckily scientists also agree that your genes are only part of the equation. Your circumstances and the things you choose to do and believe in life also have a big impact on how happy you are. But wouldn’t it be great if you just felt happier without having to try so hard, if your happiness baseline was just naturally higher? Well we have good news. Different studies indicate that you can actually elevate your happiness index and you guessed it, meditation is the key.

In one study Compuware Corporation employees participated in 60 minute group sessions during a 7 week period. They were taught loving kindness meditation, which is used to enlarge feelings of caring and warmth for others and oneself. The employees were asked to meditate 15 to 20 minutes at least 5 times a week and the results suggest that the practice lead to an “increases over time in daily experiences of positive emotions, which, in turn, produced increases in a wide range of personal resources (e.g., increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, decreased illness symptoms). In turn, these increments in personal resources predicted increased life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms”.

Mindfulness meditation and gratitude

There are different types of meditation you can get busy with and one type that’s beneficial for your happiness in particular is mindfulness meditation. This form of meditation teaches you to slow down your thoughts, let go of negative ponderings, and calm your mind and body. In a 2021 study researchers in Hong Kong found that people who practiced mindfulness meditation were “more likely to notice positive life experiences and be grateful for them”. And feeling grateful is a terrific way to get happier. Research shows that people who practice gratitude tend to feel more satisfied and happier with their lives.

How long should I meditate?

So how long should you meditate to reap the benefits of the practice? Alas not everyone shares the same opinion on this one. According to psychologist Shawn Achor as little as 2 minutes a day for 21 days in a row should help you rewire your brain to a higher happiness baseline. On the other hand Jon Kabat-zinn, professor emeritus of medicine, encourages 45 minute sessions. So what is it? You could of course just try it to find out what works best for you, maybe start small and go for longer sessions as you get the hang of it. Consistency is probably the most important factor though, just like with the rest of your body.

Source: Forbes

Ilona Braam

Ilona is a Digital Media Design graduate, content writer/creator and a whole bunch of other things. A few words that would describe her are jolly, creative, nerdy, curious and a bit dark.