On Happiness and Blissfulness: PRESENCE

Felicidad 3The best vitamin to be a happy person is B1… Yes, I know, it’s a bad joke, but the thing is that this is the last article of this series entitled “On Happiness and Blisfulness”. In my opinion, this article is the most interesting of them all. It is about finding the antidote against the capital sin against happiness no. 7: IGNORE THE INNER BEING your INNER VOICE or your INNER SOURCE. What is the antidote? Meditation, mindfulness. In reality, it all comes down to being present, experiencing the present moment, living it, feeling that intimate touch with the reality around us.

Before I go on, here you are the links to the 5 previous articles of this series in case you did not read them or did not do the exercises I proposed:

The benefits of the practice of mindfulness and meditation are many. Here you are just a few of them:

  • it decreases stress,
  • it increases response flexibility,
  • it increases your perception of the abundance of time,
  • it improves the levels of happiness by changing the brain structure,
  • it improves your heart health,
  • some studies show it improves the skin of people suffering from psoriasis,
  • it increases your kindness and compassion,
  • it increases your creativity.

Following one of the researches in the field of meditation, Alan Wallace (see links at the bottom of this article), we cannot pursue happiness as if we were isolated islands. Why sometimes is it so difficult to practice mindfulness? Here you are some reasons:

  1. Because we think mindfulness is not scientific and it sounds a bit “esoteric” (for those of you who think so, I recommend a course entitled The Science of Mindfulness by professor Ronald D. Siegel).
  2. Because meditation is “that thing of buddhist and hindu people, just religious people”. Well, certainly buddists, and generally speaking people in the Eastern culture, they use meditation a lot, but that does not mean meditations is exclusive to their culture. I must admit that this is one of the issues I have trouble with the most, because I do not consider myself as a religious person. In this regard, there is a very interesting book by Sam Harris entitled Waking Up. Sam Harris is a neuroscientist and philosopher researching the scientific foundations of spirituality. He advocates that being mindfully present, that is, the practice of presence meditation determines to a great extent the quality our lives.
  3. Because the practice of mindulness makes you a kind of sissy, soft and weak. (In reality, it makes you more kind, sympathetic and compassionate; some people assiciate kindness and compassion with weakness… THAT’S FAR FROM REALITY!). If you think so, ask the officials of the Mariners why they train their sodiers in meditation and mindfulness… I donnot think it is to make them “weak”, but rather to make them make better decisions under extreme situations.


The aim of mindfulness it is not to think about nothing, but to change the way you relate to your thoughts. Richard Davidson is one of the researchers in the field of neuroscience who has studied brain plasticity and the effects of meditation on brain structures.

If you will, we can use a useful metaphore to describe mindfulness. It is like biking. When you go biking, you are continuosly making lots of imperceptible micromovements from left to right and viceversa in order to keep your bike balanced. If your bike moves to the left, you make a micromovement to the right and viceversa. This way, you creat an efect of continuous vertical balance. Right? So, mindfulness is similar to your bike. When you meditate, it is not about thinking about nothing, but to correct your attention with a “micromovement” everytime a new thought arises and makes. The aim is to avoid mindless wandering. It is about being mindfully aware of your body and environment. Once again, the important thing here is REGULARITY. Just with 5 minutes of meditation a day everyday you will notice immediate effects in just a few weeks. Ideally, 12 minutes of meditation a day every day will change your brain structure within weeks. Let me reapeat once again, the imporant thing here is REGULARITY.

This week exersice is:

It is not about defending anything, promoting anything or fearing anything. It is about being present. Since this is something very personal, on this occassion, I am not going to give you any guidelines or instructions. I invite you to search for differnt methods (there are plenty on the Internet) and share your experience with this thing called “mindful presence”. I have a long way to go yet. Because of my personal characteristics, I always try to see things from a neuroscientific point of view and I tend to reject everything that sounds “humbug” to me. Nevertheless, here you are an example of presence meditation by Vijay Bhat. You can download it for free if you wish: Presence Practice

Good luck with it…Go and practice!

Here some links to videos about meditation:
Chade Meng Tan: Everyday Compassion
Shauna Shapiro: Mindfulness Meditation and the Brain
Alan Wallace: Ethics as a Foundation for Wellbeing
Alan Wallace: A Better Version of Myself
Ronald Siegel: The Science of Mindfulness
Richard Davidson: Transform Your Mind, Transform Your Brain

I am aware that, with this series of articles On Happiness and Blissfulness, I have just scratched the surface. The are plenty of things I could have gone into much more detail. My intention, however, was just to prod my eventual readers into the possibility of being happy and going deep into the techniques which can help you live a happier and more blissful life. I would like to close this series of articles with a sentence I just sketched out in my article dedicated to trust:

In every kind of relationship, but particularly in love relationships, you should proceed with the enthusiasm of an archaeologist who digs into the emotions of the other and uncovers them with loving care and admiration, aware of the delicacy and relevance of that finding.

May you be happy and blissful!

Michael Thallium

Global & Greatness Coach
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