Science and religion does not always go hand in hand. It is always fascinating to see when a certain scientific discoveries prove and agree on things that religious and spiritual sources have been saying for thousands of years. Recently a scientific study has found some interesting principles of happiness which turned out that they are pretty similar to Buddhist beliefs.
A scientific research published by Yes Magazine has identified some amazing facts which can bring you happiness which also correlates with how Buddhists perceive happiness.
Here are the principle Buddhist beliefs that can make you happier and more contented.
01. Be mindful
Breathing in, I calm body and mind.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment
I know this is the only moment.– Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness can help people manage their mental health or simply gain more enjoyment from life. It involves making a special effort to give your full attention to what is happening in the present moment. You give attention to what’s happening in your body, your mind or your surroundings.
One of the major reasons why people are becoming more and more depressed is because we spend most of our time worrying about what has happened in the past and about what might happen in the future. People always tend to think about “I should have’s” and “what if’s” more than enjoying the present moment. Buddhist teachings emphasize that the present moment is all we have and we should spend each second of it with full awareness.
Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky in her scientific research identified that majority of the participants in her study showed significant increases in happiness and reductions in stress levels when they were made to focus on the present moment.
Therefore we should spend every second in our life mindfully without just going through life in auto pilot mode where our minds travel in opposite directions to the time.
02. Do not strive for material desires
There is no fear for one whose mind is not filled with desires.– The Buddha
Buddhism teaches that we cannot find peace and happiness while relying on materialism. It is true that money is important for us to meet our physical needs, but we will not find long term satisfaction in striving for money and material goods.
The most common assumption in the modern society is that they consider more money equals to more pleasure. That’s why we work hard, worry about the stock market and save up for that expensive dinner, watch, phone & car. We’ve been led to believe that wealth is happiness.
Results of many scientific researches prove the above assumption to be wrong. According to the research conducted by Tim Kasser and Richard Ryan, People who have acquiring wealth on their priority list are more likely to be faced with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Money-seekers also score lower on tests of vitality and self-actualization.
Desire for acquiring wealth comes with the fear of losing them. At many occasions, people who always run after money and wealth have less priority towards people and relationships which are actually the things that can cause happiness. If you invest too much in yourself and not enough in other people, you are going to end by being lonely and miserable.
03. Be Generous
“Before giving, the mind of the giver is happy; while giving, the mind of the giver is made peaceful; and having given, the mind of the giver is uplifted – The Buddha.”
The lord Buddha has always emphasized the practice of giving. Not only giving money or things with materialistic nature, Buddhism also speaks about the benefit of giving Intangible gifts such as time, wisdom and support.
Researcher Stephen scientifically back the Buddhist teachings by stating that ‘helping a neighbour, volunteering or donating goods and services results in a “helper’s high emotional state” and you get more health benefits than you would from exercise or quitting smoking. He further stated that listening to a friend, passing on your skills, celebrating others successes and forgiveness can also contribute to happiness which Buddhists consider as intangible gifts.
04. Learn to let go
“The secret of happiness lies
in mind’s release from worldly ties – The Buddha”
Anitya or “impermanence” in Buddhism means that life as we know it is in constant flux. We can never go back to a moment which is already passed, nor can we ever replicate it. As each day passes, our body cells are different, our thoughts develop, the temperature and air quality shifts. Everything around us is different.
Whenever we may feel unhappy, the thought of impermanence can be very comforting. It means that if nothing is permanent, our pain is not permanent too. The idea that everything is constantly changing can make our minds calm. When reflecting on the concept deeply, it helps us appreciate everything we are experiencing in the present moment. It could be our relationships, body, mood, health, the weather, our favourite shoes, our jobs, our youth or anything else. Being constantly aware that whatever that is good or bad will not going to last will make us appreciate more on everything that we normally take for granted.