Week 6: Module 8: The 7th sin, habit, and exercise & Module 9: Summary and concluding Remarks

Week 6: Module 8: The 7th sin, habit, and exercise & Module 9: Summary and concluding Remarks

“The 7th Deadly Sin: Ignoring The Source Within…Stepping Outside The “GATE”…Being A Fly In The Wall…Flying Into The Present…The Benefits Of Mindfulness I…The Benefits Of Mindfulness II…Motivational Obstacles To Mindfulness…Cognitive Obstacles To Mindfulness…Some Other Obstacles To Mindfulness, Including Logistical Ones…The 7th Happiness Exercise: The “Presence Practice”…Summary Of Week 6…Two Approaches To MBA…The 7 Happiness Sustaining Strategies…Six-week Post-Course Mindfulness Camp…Goodbye…And Hello!…”
(Source

Summaries

  • The 7th Deadly Sin: Ignoring The Source Within
  • Stepping Outside The “GATE”
  • Being A Fly In The Wall
  • Flying Into The Present
  • The Benefits Of Mindfulness I
  • The Benefits Of Mindfulness II
  • Motivational Obstacles To Mindfulness
  • Cognitive Obstacles To Mindfulness
  • Some Other Obstacles To Mindfulness, Including Logistical Ones
  • The 7th Happiness Exercise: The “Presence Practice”
  • Summary Of Week 6
  • Two Approaches To MBA
  • The 7 Happiness Sustaining Strategies
  • Six-week Post-Course Mindfulness Camp
  • Goodbye…And Hello!

The 7th Deadly Sin: Ignoring The Source Within

  • Let’s get on with the seventh, and the last deadly happiness sin, and habit and exercise of course.
  • So people want a lot of things out of life, but I think more than anything else they want happiness.
  • Aristotle called happiness the chief good, the end towards which all other things aim.
  • The paradox of happiness is that even though the objective conditions in our lives have improved dramatically, we haven’t actually gotten any happier.
  • Maybe because these conventional notions of progress haven’t delivered big benefits in terms of happiness, there has been an increased interest in recent years in happiness itself.
  • People have been debating the causes of happiness for a really long time for thousands of years, but it seems like many of those debates remain unresolved.
  • In the last few years, there’s been an explosion in research on happiness.
  • Yes, it’s better to make more money, rather than less, or graduate from college instead of dropping out, but the differences in happiness tend to be small.
  • Which leaves the question, what are the big causes of happiness? I think that’s a question we haven’t really answered yet.
  • I think something that has the potential to be an answer is that maybe happiness has an awful lot to do with the contents of our moment-to-moment experiences.
  • A few years ago I came up with a way to study people’s happiness, moment-to-moment, as they’re going about their daily lives on the massive scale all over the world.
  • Called trackyourhappiness.org, it uses the iPhone to monitor people’s happiness in real time.
  • How does this work? Basically, I send people signals at random points throughout the day.
  • The idea is that if we can watch how people’s happiness goes up and down over the course of the day, minute-to-minute in some cases.
  • Try to understand how what people are doing, who they’re with, what they’re thinking about.
  • We might be able to discover some of the things that really have a big influence on happiness.
  • Over 650,000 real-time reports from over 15,000 people.
  • It’s not just a lot of people, it’s a really diverse group.
  • People from a wide range of ages, from 18 to late 80’s. A wide range of incomes, education levels.
  • It’s not clear what the relationship is between our use of this ability and our happiness.
  • You’ve probably heard people suggest that you should stay focused on the present.
  • Maybe these people are right; maybe mind-wandering is a bad thing.
  • In particular, I’d like to present some data to you from three questions that I ask with Track Your Happiness.
  • Remember, this is from sort of moment-to-moment experience in people’s real lives.
  • Are you thinking about something other than what you’re currently doing? People could say no.
  • So what did we find? This graph shows happiness on the vertical axis.
  • You can see that bar there representing how happy people are when they’re focused on the present.
  • As it turns out, people are substantially less happy when their minds are wandering than when they are not.
  • Now you might look at this result and say okay, sure, on average people are less happy when they are mind-wandering.
  • Nope, as it turns out people are less happy when they’re mind-wandering no matter what they’re doing.
  • People don’t really like commuting to work very much.
  • Yet even when people are thinking about something neutral they’re still considerably less happy than when they’re not mind-wandering at all.
  • It’s possible that’s the case, but it might also be the case that when people are unhappy then they mind-wander.
  • As it turns out, there is a strong relationship between mind-wandering now, and being unhappy a short time later, consistent with the idea that mind wandering is causing people to be unhappy.
  • Well, how often do people’s minds wander? Turns out, they wander a lot.
  • 47 percent of the time people are thinking about something other than what they’re currently doing.
  • Ranging from a high of 65 percent, when people are taking a shower, brushing their teeth.
  • 10 percent of the time people’s minds are wandering when they’re having sex.
  • That is basically, with one exception, no matter what people are doing, they’re mind-wandering at least 30% of the time.
  • How do we develop this ability to be mindful? And exactly why does it enhance happiness levels? Those are the questions to which I will get to in the next few videos.

Stepping Outside The “GATE”

  • It is also relatively easy to be mindful when you’re feeling happy.
  • It’s most difficult not to let your mind wander when you’re feeling stressed out or otherwise negative.
  • That’s because you end up doing something that researchers calling ruminating, when you’re feeling negative.
  • You start building on the negative feelings, and that soon snowballs out of control.
  • This thought might, in turn, trigger thoughts of how you’re probably going to get fired next year, since the company’s looking to lay off people, and so on and so forth.
  • If your boss has just shouted at you, and you feel upset, being mindful means to experience those feelings.
  • So what does it feel to feel upset, fully without thinking other thoughts that either intensifies this feeling or those that in fact mitigate this feeling?
  • I elaborate more on this in the next couple of videos, but let me just get back to this idea of not thinking other thoughts.
  • As you might remember from Week 4, emotion regulation has to do with steering your thoughts away from your negative feelings or thoughts that you’re having right now.
  • Or to distract yourself from these negative thoughts by going for a run or chatting with a friend and so on.
  • As we saw in Week 4, emotion regulation strategies do work, they make you feel better.
  • What Killingsworth and Gilbert’s findings show is that being mindful, that is, fully focusing on whatever it is that you’re going on about, not running away from it, accepting it fully, embracing it, even, can be an even more powerful way to regulate your feelings than emotion regulation strategies are.
  • You’re not trying to regulate your thoughts, your feelings, etc.
  • In many ways what you’re trying to do is the opposite of controlling your thoughts and feelings.
  • Imagine that as you’re watching this video you suddenly have a thought.
  • Usually when we have such a thought, we just let that thought determine the next thought.
  • On the way to the car, you might pick up a little snack for your son to appease him, just in case he’s upset about you bring late, etc.
  • A thought that you might be late evokes another thought that you’re bad at time management, which in turn triggers an emotion, guilt, which in turn triggers the action of rushing to your car.
  • In other words, the original thought has triggered a web of consequences that evoke thoughts and emotions and actions and action tendencies and goals.
  • It’s not just this thought that evokes all these other thoughts and emotions and action tendencies and goals.
  • So one way to characterize what we experience normally is that we’re immersed in a web of what might be called GATEs.
  • Another way to characterize it is that we’re caught in a web that likes experiences and events.
  • If you get shouted at by a boss, which is negative feelings that in turn trigger other negative thoughts, that trigger certain actions, which trigger other negative or positive feelings, that trigger another set of thoughts, that trigger new actions.
  • Now if the weapon which we are called happens to be a good one for example, when your boss shouts at you, you react in a way that’s healthy, then it’s not so bad. But unfortunately, and this may be particularly true for those of us who commit the other deadly happiness sins that I talk about earlier including chasing superiority or being overly controlling.
  • One way to break the cycle is to adopt the habits of the highly happy.

Being A Fly In The Wall

  • If you are given an opportunity to be a fly on the wall for any event from the past, which event would you choose? Would it be for a surreptitious meeting between JFK and Marilyn Monroe? Or would it be for the meeting between Mahatma Gandhi and Lord Mountbatten on the night that India achieved freedom from Britain? Whatever the event you choose, the idea of being a fly on the wall is that you are a disinterested observer.
  • So you could be a disinterestedly interested observer of something, which is what you’d want to be when you’re a fly on the wall for an event that you think is momentous.
  • As a fly on the wall, you would want to merely observe whatever was going on without adding or taking away anything from it.
  • You would know that as a fly on the wall you don’t have the power to change or control things.
  • You simply have to accept whatever was going on and are thankful for the opportunity to witness the momentous event unfolding in front of your eyes.
  • Now, imagine that instead of being a fly on the wall for an external momentous event you are a fly in the wall of your head to be precise for an internal momentous event.
  • For which internal momentous event? For the current internal momentous event that is going on right now.
  • All of those fascinating goals and actions and action tendencies and thoughts and emotions that are going on in your head. Like the fly on the wall for an external event, as a fly in the wall in your head, you wouldn’t want to attract attention to yourself or change what was happening.
  • The one difference between being a fly on the wall and being a fly in the wall is that you could change what was happening in your head, when you couldn’t change what was happening when you were a fly on the wall.
  • I’m going through a bad time a divorce, for example, after all.
  • As you are capable of merely observing what’s going without changing things or controlling things.
  • It’s the attempt at being a fly in the wall of your head. What you’re trying to do is observe with a whole lot of intensity, whatever is going on.
  • You could be mindful of whatever is going on outside of you as well.
  • Let me focus for the time being, on being mindful of your internal environment.
  • As a fly in the wall of your head, you’d be aware of all the GATEs.
  • Because you’re a disinterested fly, you wouldn’t want to change any of those GATEs.
  • You’d merely be observing and noting what is going on, but without commenting or judging anything.
  • The reason this happens is that when you’re a fly in the wall, you put some distance between yourself and what’s going on.
  • By contrast, if you’re not a fly in the wall, but rather you’re a fly that’s caught in the GATE web, you will not be as easily able to discern the cause and relationship in the chain of events.
  • Now what’s been found is that when you’re scanning the environment for something in particular, in this case, a number you get excited when you see it.
  • Right now you’re looking for numbers in what is otherwise a long string of alphabets.
  • Then as soon as you notice a number, you will get a little bit excited.
  • As a result of this excitement, it’s likely that you will miss the next number that shows up on the screen if it comes up really quickly after the first number.
  • Needless to say, the more excited you get upon seeing the first number, the less likely you are to notice the second number.
  • For most people, if the second number comes up within half a second of the first number, they miss the second number.
  • Now, what has been discovered is that the ability to notice the second number improves significantly if you have practiced mindfulness or meditation.
  • One question, that I’m sure that many of you have is this, the way that I’ve described mindfulness here, with the use of the fly in the wall analogy seems to be a little bit different from the way that mindfulness was described in the Killingsworth video.

Flying Into The Present

  • In the last video, I discussed how mindfulness is like trying to be a fly on the wall of your head. And how this attempt of distancing yourself from your gate.
  • One thing you might be wondering is if mindfulness involves taking the position of an observer, then it seems that mindfulness equals not being totally involved in whatever is going on.
  • The reason is that although the idea of stepping outside of your gate might seem like you’re putting a distance between yourself and what’s going on in your head. The reality is that, and you’ll only discover this by the way if you actually start practicing mindfulness rather than merely thinking about it.
  • Think about what happens normally, that is when you’re not being a fly on the wall or you’re not being mindful.
  • In other words, as a fly stuck in the web, in the gate web, you’d be lurching wildly from the present, your boss shouting, to the past, your ex-bosses and your parents shouting, back to the present, I’m never going to succeed, to the future, lofty dreams for the future, etc.
  • As you can see from this example, being a fly in the gate web involves a lot of time travel.
  • By contrast, as a fly in the wall of your head, you’re firmly rooted in the present.
  • You’re observing what’s going on right now in your head. Your gate may be doing the time traveling, but you are in the present and if you manage to stay in the present, which means that you don’t fly off the wall and into the web but manage to hold onto the wall.
  • You will discover that your gate too, comes to the present.
  • In the previous video, I discussed consequences of being a fly in the wall.
  • The third consequence which follows from the gate settling to the present when you’re a fly on the wall is that you’ll get more in touch with your senses.
  • You would feel as if you’re able to see or hear things more clearly than you otherwise could or ever have actually sometimes.
  • If you experience a particularly intense moment of present awareness you may even feel as if you’re seeing the world with totally new eyes or hearing sounds with totally new ears and so on.
  • We are going to do a mindfulness exercise soon, but just to give you a glimpse into how seeing with new eyes might feel, and how even the ordinary becomes extraordinary.
  • Let me show you a really neat video made by somebody called Dietrich Ludwig called seeing.
  • Could extraordinarily be defined by them? Of course, you see the ordinary as the part of our world that is somehow the most extraordinary.
  • Some see the detail and the beauty the character, and the harmony.
  • See if either one of you can tell the difference.
  • Removing this filter or the gate of the mind as several people have commented, is the same thing as getting more in touch with reality as it is, rather than distorting it with the mind.

The Benefits Of Mindfulness I

  • Hopefully the discussions thus far have given you a better idea of what mindfulness is, and also given you some glimpse, into why it is such a powerful determinant of well being.
  • The idea that the practice of mindfulness improves emotional intelligence is the main point of an excellent book on the topic of mindfulness called, Search inside You, written by Chade Meng Tan.
  • Meng works for Google by the way, which explains the book’s title, and he does a great job of breaking down the somewhat subtle nuanced concepts relevant to mindfulness and to logical and simple language.
  • Apart from calming us down and improving our emotional intelligence by enhancing response flexibility, it also gets us to settle down into the present, which increases our ability to view even ordinary things with much more curiosity and interest and perhaps even and feeling awe it turns out, has the ability to make us feel like we have a lot more time on our hands, than we might otherwise feel.
  • What I want to do now, is turn to the myriad other positive effects of mindfulness, both on physical and mental health.
  • I want to start by showing you a presentation by one of the most productive researchers in the area of Mindfulness, Professor Shauna Shapiro of Santa Clara University.
  • By this she means the group that did not get to do the mindfulness training.
  • This is the group of participants that volunteered to get the mindfulness training, like those that got the mindfulness training did, but were assigned to the control condition and were told that they were in the waiting list to receive the mindfulness training at a later point in time.
  • Some of the research that I think is most interesting, and actually, most optimistic, is the research on meditation and the brain.
  • When we’re feeling depressed anxious in fact even people who have post traumatic stress disorder or severe depression we have much we see much greater activity in the right to left ratio in the prefrontal cortex which is this part of the brain that developed more recently.
  • They randomly assign them into a mindfulness group taught by John Kabat-Zinn a wait list group.
  • Is there change in the activity of the brain? What they found is that four months later there were significant differences in this left to right ratio where they had much greater activity in left to right, with greater positive motions, vitality.
  • In psychology, there is something called, a happiness set point, and it’s been repeated over and over again in the research that we find that people basically just like you have a weight set point.
  • You have basically had this kind of continuum of happiness that you’re born with, and you can’t really move it too far.
  • You get the house in Hawaii, or you win the lottery, or you marry the perfect person or you have, it doesn’t actually change your happiness level.
  • What is so hopeful about this new research is what it says is that even though changing your exterior circumstances, winning the lottery, doesn’t change your happiness level.
  • Happiness can be trained, because the very structure of our brain can be modified.
  • There just like there well grooved pathways in our brain.
  • What mindfulness is helping us start to do is to kind of build.
  • I think of it as digging a country road, you’re clearing all the brambles in your brain; you’re creating this new neural pathway.
  • For now, I want to focus on the point that she made about how our happiness set point can be changed.
  • As you saw in the video, findings show that normally we find it very difficult to change our baseline happiness levels.
  • The findings on mindfulness challenge that belief.
  • Specifically because mindfulness doesn’t just change how you feel in the moment, but rather change your very brain structure.
  • Two other themes emerge from the video that we’ll get to later, which are one, you don’t need to have practiced mindfulness for years and years to derive the beneficial effects of it.
  • For now, let’s continue with the discussion of the benefits associated with mindfulness.
  • Finally, improves happiness levels by changing the physiological structure of our brain.
  • In the next video, I’m going to discuss a number of other benefits of mindfulness.

The Benefits Of Mindfulness II

  • In the last video we saw how mindfulness has all these positive effects.
  • It lowers stress levels, increases response flexibility, enhances curiosity and interest, increases perceived time abundance, and improves happiness levels by changing the structure of the brain.
  • The final benefit that I just mentioned, improved happiness levels, as we saw, happens through a change in the physiological structure of the brain through something that Professor Sara Lazar and her authors call cortical thickening.
  • Another physiological change that occurs as a result of mindfulness is the reduced expression of genes that produce inflammation in the body.
  • Because mindfulness has an effect on both the brain and the body, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that people suffering from a skin disease called psoriasis got cured much faster after undergoing mindfulness training than those in a control condition, as this study that you now see on your screen showed.
  • Another beneficial effect of mindfulness is that it improves heart health.
  • Studies have shown that among those who practice mindfulness, something known as vagal tone improves.
  • Things like blood pressure and arrhythmia, which is irregular heartbeat, and other symptoms of poor heart health are all affected and heart health improves by the vagal tone.
  • So mindfulness directly affects heart health, as this paper, published by Professor Blaine Ditto and his colleagues have shown.
  • Vagal tone improves psychological health, too, by making you a more compassionate person.
  • A final physiological benefit of mindfulness is that it has been shown to prevent the shortening of something called telomeres, which offer protection to the ends of chromosomes in the cells of our body, and thus help prevent the onset of diseases like cancer.
  • That’s just the physiological benefits of mindfulness.
  • As we already saw, mindfulness lowers stress, improves well-being and makes you more engaged with the present.
  • As a result of this last benefit, mindfulness slows down adaptation to things.
  • So mindfulness helps improve happiness by slowing down adaptation to things.
  • The reason mindfulness slows down adaptation is that it makes you realize that nothing is really boring if you pay sufficient attention to it.
  • Another psychological benefit of mindfulness, and I already touched upon this a little bit when I talked about vagal tone, is that it makes you more kind and compassionate.
  • One reason why mindfulness promotes compassion is that it improves your ability to empathize with others by activating a part of your brain called the insular cortex, as this paper that you now see on the screen shows.
  • As a result, those that practice mindfulness are more altruistic or pro-social, as this paper that you now see on your screen showed.
  • In addition to improving both physical and mental health, mindfulness also improves your chances of success.
  • A big reason for this, which I touched upon earlier, is that it improves response flexibility and improves emotional intelligence.
  • Another way in which mindfulness improves your chances of success is by enhancing your creativity.
  • There are a slew of beneficial effects of mindfulness, including physiological benefits like improved heart health and health of the immune system.
  • What I find very curious about all of this is that why mindfulness should have all these positive effects.
  • Chade Meng, the author of Search Inside Yourself, who I mentioned in an earlier video, once asked Alan Wallace, a very well respected mindfulness expert and author of several books on the topic, including The Attention Revolution, why is it that we feel happy when we are mindful? And here is what Wallace had to say in response, and I quote.
  • If, as all of these mindfulness findings suggest and as Alan Wallace and Professor Shapiro agree, happiness lies within us, and the way to this source of happiness is through mindfulness, wouldn’t you agree that it would be a smart thing to do to learn mindfulness? And yet, most of us, even those who are very familiar with mindfulness as a concept or as a practice, find it difficult to get around to practicing it on a regular basis.

Motivational Obstacles To Mindfulness

  • In the last video, we discussed how it would be a shame if, despite all of this evidence showing the myriad ways in which mindfulness enhances our happiness levels, we fail to tap into the source within.
  • So that’s what we’re going to do in the remaining few videos on mindfulness this week.
  • That is, delve deeper into what it takes to practice mindfulness.
  • I’m going to end the week with a particular type of mindfulness practice that my friend who invented it, his name is Vijay Bhat, calls presence practice.
  • Before we get to that practice, let me first discuss some typical misconceptions that many of us harbor about mindfulness.
  • Just like the negative misconceptions about happiness that I talked about in week one, these negative misconceptions about mindfulness makes us devalue the practice, and therefore, it prevents us from embarking upon it.
  • In this video, I want to focus on what I call motivational obstacles to mindfulness.
  • As a result of these obstacles, many of us aren’t motivated to start a mindfulness practice.
  • First motivational obstacle is that mindfulness is unscientific.
  • That is, many of us believe that mindfulness is too wooed.
  • As we have seen, mindfulness is merely an attempt to see reality, whether it is the reality inside your mind, your gate, or the reality outside of you, as it is emerging, without judging, commenting or clinging to any of it.
  • That is, as I mentioned earlier, mindfulness is the attempt to connect with reality in a disinterestedly interested fashion.
  • On a related note, another objection that some people have to mindfulness, that it’s a Buddhist practice or a Hindu practice.
  • To me, mindfulness is no more Buddhist than say, singing in harmony, as the Benedictine monks do, as Christian.
  • If you deny yourself the opportunity to engage in mindfulness because you feel it’s not your religion, then I think you’re denying yourself a very powerful source of well-being by being closed-minded to that practice.
  • Let me move on to the second objection to mindfulness that many people appear to harbor.
  • Which is that the practice of mindfulness will make them soft and weak?
  • One moment, they’re practicing mindfulness, and the next moment, they’re sentimental softies, addicted to the likes of Oprah and Chopra, spouting inane things like, make love not war, bro.
  • Now, as I discussed in the previous video, there is truth to the idea that the practice of mindfulness will make you more kind and compassionate.
  • Even the US Army is exploring how mindfulness can benefit its soldiers.
  • There is evidence that mindfulness training can help soldiers become sharper on the battlefield, and therefore, help them make better decisions.
  • Then you’ll hear John Kavadsen, Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, and who many people credit with bringing mindfulness to the attention of researchers in the West.
  • See how his concern, John Kavadsen’s concern, with taking mindfulness to the quote unquote dark side, to the army was mitigated when he realized how it could help save lives.
  • In the project that we did with pre-deployment Marines, what we found was that getting this training, that Liz Stanley, the exceptional teacher that we had as a collaborator, offered, and doing as little as 12 minutes of practice a day actually helped these Marines keep their attention and working memory.
  • As you just saw, even the military is using mindfulness to help soldiers make better decisions on the battleground.
  • So why do we have this notion that mindfulness makes people soft and weak? One reason, as I said earlier, maybe because those who practice mindfulness become more compassionate and we mistakenly associate compassion with weakness.
  • Another reason, which maybe actually more important one, and one to which Sam Harris alludes to in his book, Waking Up, has to do with the sort of people who take up the part of mindfulness.
  • Often it is the people who can’t quite cope with the stresses of life who turn to mindfulness.
  • So we end up concluding that since it is the people who couldn’t deal with stress who took up mindfulness, mindfulness must make people weak.
  • To summarize the discussion in this video, many of us are reluctant to take up mindfulness because of two major misconceptions that we have about it.
  • So if you have been holding back on trying out mindfulness for either of these two reasons, hopefully you’ll be less reluctant to try it out now.
  • In the next video, I’m going to turn to some cognitive obstacles that keep us from trying out mindfulness.
  • In the last video, we discussed how it would be a shame if, despite all of this evidence showing the myriad ways in which mindfulness enhances our happiness levels, we fail to tap into the source within.
  • So that’s what we’re going to do in the remaining few videos on mindfulness this week.
  • That is, delve deeper into what it takes to practice mindfulness.
  • I’m going to end the week with a particular type of mindfulness practice that my friend who invented it, his name is Vijay Bhat, calls presence practice.
  • Before we get to that practice, let me first discuss some typical misconceptions that many of us harbor about mindfulness.
  • Just like the negative misconceptions about happiness that I talked about in week one, these negative misconceptions about mindfulness makes us devalue the practice, and therefore, it prevents us from embarking upon it.
  • In this video, I want to focus on what I call motivational obstacles to mindfulness.
  • As a result of these obstacles, many of us aren’t motivated to start a mindfulness practice.
  • First motivational obstacle is that mindfulness is unscientific.
  • That is, many of us believe that mindfulness is too wooed.
  • As we have seen, mindfulness is merely an attempt to see reality, whether it is the reality inside your mind, your gate, or the reality outside of you, as it is emerging, without judging, commenting or clinging to any of it.
  • That is, as I mentioned earlier, mindfulness is the attempt to connect with reality in a disinterestedly interested fashion.
  • On a related note, another objection that some people have to mindfulness, that it’s a Buddhist practice or a Hindu practice.
  • To me, mindfulness is no more Buddhist than say, singing in harmony, as the Benedictine monks do, as Christian.
  • If you deny yourself the opportunity to engage in mindfulness because you feel it’s not your religion, then I think you’re denying yourself a very powerful source of well-being by being closed-minded to that practice.
  • Let me move on to the second objection to mindfulness that many people appear to harbor.
  • Which is that the practice of mindfulness will make them soft and weak?
  • One moment, they’re practicing mindfulness, and the next moment, they’re sentimental softies, addicted to the likes of Oprah and Chopra, spouting inane things like, make love not war, bro.
  • Now, as I discussed in the previous video, there is truth to the idea that the practice of mindfulness will make you more kind and compassionate.
  • Even the US Army is exploring how mindfulness can benefit its soldiers.
  • There is evidence that mindfulness training can help soldiers become sharper on the battlefield, and therefore, help them make better decisions.
  • Then you’ll hear John Kavadsen, Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, and who many people credit with bringing mindfulness to the attention of researchers in the West.
  • See how his concern, John Kavadsen’s concern, with taking mindfulness to the quote unquote dark side, to the army was mitigated when he realized how it could help save lives.
  • In the project that we did with pre-deployment Marines, what we found was that getting this training, that Liz Stanley, the exceptional teacher that we had as a collaborator, offered, and doing as little as 12 minutes of practice a day actually helped these Marines keep their attention and working memory.
  • As you just saw, even the military is using mindfulness to help soldiers make better decisions on the battleground.
  • So why do we have this notion that mindfulness makes people soft and weak? One reason, as I said earlier, maybe because those who practice mindfulness become more compassionate and we mistakenly associate compassion with weakness.
  • Another reason, which maybe actually more important one, and one to which Sam Harris alludes to in his book, Waking Up, has to do with the sort of people who take up the part of mindfulness.
  • Often it is the people who can’t quite cope with the stresses of life who turn to mindfulness.
  • So we end up concluding that since it is the people who couldn’t deal with stress who took up mindfulness, mindfulness must make people weak.
  • To summarize the discussion in this video, many of us are reluctant to take up mindfulness because of two major misconceptions that we have about it.
  • So if you have been holding back on trying out mindfulness for either of these two reasons, hopefully you’ll be less reluctant to try it out now.
  • In the next video, I’m going to turn to some cognitive obstacles that keep us from trying out mindfulness.

Cognitive Obstacles To Mindfulness

  • When many of us think of mindfulness or its conceptual cousin, meditation, one of the first thoughts that occur to us is that of not thinking.
  • In reality, mindfulness is not really about not thinking.
  • Here is how Richie Davidson, who many people consider to be the pioneer of using mirror imaging techniques like firm to understand the impact of mindfulness on the brain, and to whom I had the pleasure of talking just a few days earlier, put it.
  • As you just heard, the goal of mindfulness is not to have any thoughts, but rather to change your relationship with them.
  • Specifically, the goal is to try and not get caught up in your thoughts, which happens when you judge, or categorize, or comment on a thought.
  • In other words, unless you actually start a mindfulness practice, you won’t realize what it means to merely observe your thoughts and feelings.
  • Because mindfulness is such a difficult concept to understand intellectually, and because most of us, and this might be particularly true for the smart and successful among us, want to first know what we’re getting into before we’re willing to try it, many of us are reluctant to try out mindfulness.
  • This leads to sort of a catch-22 situation, because we won’t try mindfulness until we get to experience what it leads to first, and without trying it out first, we may never get to experience what this bare awareness, for example, is all about.
  • If you do try out mindfulness, there’s no doubt that you will, sooner or later, get to that initial access that Meng is talking about.
  • So the two cognitive obstacles that many of us face in giving mindfulness a try are one, confusing it with being thoughtless, and deciding that that seems too tough or weird, and two, wanting to understand the experience of bare awareness intellectually first before being willing to try it.
  • This leads me to the third cognitive obstacle, which is one that Sam Harris alludes to in the quote that I just read, namely that the fear that it make take weeks, months, or even years before you get to glimpse what mindfulness can do for you, keeps us from trying it.
  • What I also know now, is that putting one’s self through a ten-day retreat may not be necessary derive the benefits of mindfulness.
  • As we heard from Professor Amishi Jha in the previous video, even a 12 minute mindfulness practice a day, can work wonders.
  • A study in the paper that you now seen on your screen found that a mere five minutes a day of mindfulness for five weeks increased left-sided baseline activity in the frontal cortex, a pattern that, as we saw in Professor Shapiro’s talk, has been associated with positive emotions.
  • To summarize this video, there are three major cognitive obstacles that we face in trying out mindfulness.
  • Second, we want to understand what mindfulness feels like intellectually, before we’re being willing to try it.
  • As we saw, none of these obstacles to trying out meditation or mindfulness is really valid.
  • In the next video, I will turn to the final set of obstacles that we face, some of which could be obstacles that prevent us from sustaining a mindfulness practice after having started it.

Some Other Obstacles To Mindfulness, Including Logistical Ones

  • The last two sessions have been discussing the various obstacles that prevent us from being open to mindfulness practice.
  • I started with some motivational obstacles, which have to do with negative misconceptions about mindfulness, such as its too wooed-woo, or that it will make me soft and weak.
  • We also saw how many of us impose various cognitive obstacles to start a mindfulness practice, including believing that it has to do with not having any thoughts, or first wanting to understand what it is intellectually before trying it, or believing that it’s going to take months or even years to see any benefits.
  • Again, as we saw, these are invalid objections to mindfulness.
  • It turns out that mindfulness is not about having no thoughts; rather, it’s about changing our relationship with thoughts.
  • Logistical obstacles have to do with finding the time and space and energy to make mindfulness a regular practice.
  • So fitting in a 20 or even a 12 minute mindfulness session every day may be asking for too much.
  •  Secondly, I would start with really short periods of practice.
  • If you, you know, decide you’re going to practice for a half an hour and you spend most of that time fidgeting, it’s not really going to be very helpful.
  • So as you just heard Professor Davidson say, the key is to start with very, very short sessions, in the order of one or two minutes a day.
  • There’s something else that Professor Davidson said about these really short sessions that’s very key.
  • Talking of frustration, another reason for frustration with mindfulness is setting high expectations.
  • In some ways, getting to know all of those benefits of mindfulness is actually a curse.
  • The good news about getting to know the benefits of mindfulness is that it can motivate you to get started.
  • Or to totally giving up the practice all together because you end up concluding, what’s the big deal about it, at worst.
  • I found out that there are three things that help me overcome the tendency to set high expectations before I sit for a mindfulness session.
  • First, I tell myself explicitly that no mindfulness session is like any other.
  • The second thing I do is to set the intention of being as dedicated to the goal of being a fly on the wall as I can.
  • I tell myself that that’s the only goal I’m going to have for this mindfulness session.
  • Finally, I tell myself that, in the instance that I do end up not being able to adhere to this goal of being a fly on the wall, and of course, I fail multiple times every session.
  • I tell myself that I’m going to be both self-compassionate, and use the experience as an opportunity to practice the sixth habit of the highly happy, the dispassionate pursuit of passion.
  • If I find that I happened to have judged myself negatively for not being able to stick to my goal of being a fly on the wall, that’s fine too.
  • Chade-Meng, the author of Search inside You, compares paying attention, which is of course critical to mindfulness, to riding a bicycle.
  • The idea is that with practice, just like you’re able to recover balance through micro-adjustments when you’re bicycling, you will be able to achieve a similar ability to bring back your attention to focusing on the present moment with practice.
  • So to summarize I tell myself the following three things before I start a mindfulness session.
  • Each session is new, and so don’t have any expectations, which include not comparing this session with any of the previous ones.
  • These three things help me have the right attitude before and during the mindfulness session.
  • Once the session is over, I tell myself one more thing to motivate myself for the next session.
  • I tell myself that there is no such thing as a bad mindfulness session.
  • Several studies have shown that what’s most important in mindfulness practice is regularity.
  • By that, he means begin to do the mindfulness practice.
  • What Professor Davidson is saying is that if we have patience and keep practicing mindfulness, we’ll see the results.
  • Okay, so to summarize the content of this video and the last two videos really quickly, we discussed several reasons that keep us from checking out mindfulness and from sustaining the practice.
  • I hope that the discussion in this video on how to overcome some of the logistical problems with mindfulness have given you some good ideas on how to sustain the practice.
  • That said I realize that I have barely scratched the surface of the topic of the obstacles that keep us from practicing mindfulness.
  • Some of you may feel that you don’t have a space to practice mindfulness, or you don’t have a convenient time of the day to practice it.
  • Which is a kind of a different attitude from being an amateur, to being a professional?
  • That for me is how you get something done from A to Z.  So, as you just heard, it’s a matter of turning into mindfulness pro.
  • Which means making mindfulness such a priority, that you figure out a way to get to practice it at least a couple of minutes each day, no matter what?
  • Before saying goodbye to you for now, in the next video where we are going to do the 6th happiness exercise, let me just leave you with a short quote from Mahatma Gandhi that you might find useful, particularly if you’ve been putting away mindfulness because of lack of time.

The 7th Happiness Exercise: The “Presence Practice”

  • Now, the sixth happiness exercise is something that Vijay calls Presence Practice, which is a kind of a mindfulness practice.
  • In particular, it seems that observing the breath is one of the best things to do to practice mindfulness.
  • Now there are many reasons why breath is a good thing to observe.
  • It is constantly changing, you’re always breathing in or breathing out or holding your breath.
  • At the same time the breath is not something that’s going through so much flux like your thoughts that it’s difficult to pin down and observe.
  • Now, breath is also something that’s gross enough to observe, unlike say, your heartbeat, which is usually much more subtle.
  • At the same time, your breath is also something that can become very subtle, when you observe it.
  • The breath is also something that is right on the edge of being voluntary, and under your control and involuntary, and out of your control which allows you to practice this idea of letting go of control.
  • If you choose to observe your breath as a mindfulness practice, you would simply become aware of the sensations that you feel on a particular part of your body as you breathe.
  • As you do this you may notice that both breathing in and breathing out puts some pressure on the walls of your nostrils.
  • Or you may start to notice that the incoming breath is just a little bit cooler than the outgoing one.
  • Or that the breathing happens mainly through one, either the left or the right nostril, for a period of time before it switches to the other nostril.
  • If you continue to pay attention to the sensations that breathing causes in and around your nostrils you may start to notice even more subtle things like the follicles inside your nasal passage moving with your inhalations and exhalations.
  • In this process of becoming aware of all this, your breath is likely to become calmer, and quieter.
  • Being a fly on the wall, it’s best not to judge yourself for negative thoughts like, man I can’t even focus on my breath for five seconds at a stretch.
  • Just forget what happened in the past, and come back to becoming aware of the sensations caused by the act of breathing.
  • This is what you will do if you’re mindfulness practice involved observing your breath.
  • As I mentioned just a little while back, observing your breath is easier than observing the mind, even that isn’t easy for most of us.
  • People who have too much on their plate and don’t already have mindfulness practice going.
  • You may already have a mindfulness practice that you’re happy with.
  • You can simply participate in the presence practice with open minded curiosity.
  • If you don’t have a mindfulness practice, and you find the presence practice to be useful, it makes you experience some of the benefits that we have discussed in the previous videos of being mindful, you can use it for as long as you want.
  • The main objective of this video is to let you glimpse into a particular type of mindfulness practice, and then leave it up to you to decide if you want to continue with it or not.
  • All right! So with that introduction let me know turn to Vijay and ask him to guide us through the presence practice.
  • He’s going to first give us a little bit of background about himself and then give us the instructions for the practice.
  • So from my own experience and from a lot of reading and research that we have done, I have created a short 10 minute, or 12 minute presence practice.
  • I’m going to walk you through that presence practice now.
  • Over time you will find that this practice becomes second nature to you, and that really you don’t need my guidance anymore.
  • I invite you to join me and follow me in this practice.
  • When your body is completely relaxed, you will notice that your attention automatically goes to your breath.
  • I invite you to just notice your breath as it comes in, as you inhale.
  • You don’t have to do anything, you don’t have to speed up your breath, and you don’t have to slow it down.
  • All you need to do is to simply observe your breath.
  • So please close your eyes, and along with me just notice your breath as it comes in and as it goes out.
  • Your body is completely relaxed, and your breath is even and rhythmic.
  • What are you feeling right now inside of you? What does presence feel like? And once you can make that state of presence clear to yourself, make it as vivid as possible.
  • I hope you enjoyed that little activity, and I hope that you will practice it and benefit from it just like I have.
  • If you’ve been practicing mindfulness for long, you will realize that you don’t have to be explicitly reminded or instructed to pay attention to all of these things.
  • As I also mentioned some time back, this practice, this presence practice is tailored mainly for those who aren’t conversant with mindfulness.
  • It’s for people who lead such busy lives that they haven’t had time to nurture this practice.

Summary Of Week 6

  • I thought I would discuss some of what might be called the apparent paradoxes of mindfulness.
  • I mentioned one such apparent paradox already in the earlier video, which is that although mindfulness involves being in intimate touch with whatever is going on.
  • How could one both be in touch, in intimate touch with whatever’s going on, and still observe it from a distance? This is only a paradox if you think about mindfulness rather than experience it or practice it.
  • If you practice mindfulness, you realize that the observing is not really going on from the perspective of the mind.
  • As they say in some of the literature in this topic, the subject, that is the observer, and the object, that is the observed, becomes one in a state of mindfulness.
  • If you’re interested in how mindfulness collapses the distances between yourself and what you’re observing, you should definitely check out Waking Up. So, that’s one paradox of mindfulness, that it seems to involve a distancing yourself from things while at the same time being immersed in them.
  • Another apparent paradox of mindfulness is that even if you are mindful of something negative or unpleasant, you still feel good, or at least less bad, as a result.
  • As you heard professor Neff say in week two, one of the major components of self-compassion is mindfulness.
  • Professor Neff wouldn’t have chosen mindfulness to be a component of self-compassion if it made you feel miserable.
  • We also saw from Professor Shapiro’s talk that mindfulness lowers stress.
  • How could it be that accepting a negative event and experiencing it fully can make you feel better than reiterating the event or distracting yourself away from it? This is only a paradox if you confuse mindfulness with ruminating about an event or analyzing the negative experience as opposed to merely observing it.
  • So kind of like, how the mindfulness community often says view as what is, view as what is.
  • As you just heard Professor Shapiro say, even the Buddha, who was otherwise a big proponent of mindfulness, used emotion regulation tactics sometimes.
  • This is one reason why it’s important to start mindfulness practice when things are going well in your life, rather than wait for when things become really stressful.
  • With that, let me move on to the third apparent paradox of mindfulness, which is that since mindfulness promotes response flexibility, this ability to choose how you respond to stimulus rather than responding to it reflexively.
  • That is, it may seem that mindfulness would lead to a suppression of desires and instincts, and lead to taking decisions based only on thoughtful deliberations.
  • This, again, is a conclusion to which only those who confuse mindfulness with being overly mind-dependent would arrive.
  • In reality, mindfulness doesn’t lead to mind-dependence, but rather leads to what might be called my independence.
  • Mindfulness is ultimately about getting familiar with what’s going on inside of you, both at the level of the body and at the level of the mind.
  • By practicing mindfulness, you’ll get more intimately familiar with both what your sensations and feelings, that is, your instincts are telling you, as well as what your rational side, your thoughts and deliberations, are telling you.
  • Another benefit of mindfulness, which comes from being more intimately in touch with your sensations and feelings, is that you’re likely to enjoy the sensory pleasures of life a little bit more.
  • The warmth of the sun seems more delicious, and the mattress seems much more luxurious when you’re feeling mindful than when you’re not.
  • This is because in the process of practicing mindfulness, it is likely that you will judge many of your instincts and feelings as wrong, which will not just kill your impulsivity, but also your spontaneity.
  • For example, since you have taken this course, if you sit down for a mindfulness practice, you may judge the feeling of hubristic pride, say, arising in you, or of neediness, or of being overly controlling, or of distrusting others as wrong feelings.
  • This will immediately trigger the thought since you’ve also now sat through some mindfulness videos that it’s wrong to pass judgment on your feelings.
  • Over time, as you learn to recognize the difference between observing from your mind and observing from bare awareness, and also learn how to steer yourself into feeling present.
  • You will see that mindfulness doesn’t lower spontaneity, but rather enhances it.
  • That during this stage, which she calls wide-angle stage, you may lose some of your spontaneity, okay? So to kind of step back a little bit, we ended the module on mindfulness with video about presence practice.
  • This practice, of course, is only one way to practice mindfulness.
  • We live in such amazing times that if you want to check out other mindfulness practices, they’re all only a mouse click away.
  • If you’re a variety seeker like me, I would encourage you to check out three or four techniques which will give you some flexibility to pick and choose the mindfulness practice that suits your current mood.
  • If you’re feeling like exercising your kindness muscles, for example, you can do the loving kindness practice.
  • In this video, I’ve discussed some interesting paradoxes of mindfulness.
  • I want to end this video by discussing what I consider, not to be a paradox, but more a mystery, one of the most mysterious aspects of mindfulness.
  • This is one of the main ways by which mindfulness enhances our happiness levels by connecting us with our basic, seemingly happy or even blissful nature.
  • When you practice mindfulness, you develop the ability to feel temporarily more positive or to use a more new age word, centered as a result.
  • When you continue to practice mindfulness, what starts out as a temporary feeling of centeredness, becomes increasingly more frequent.
  • That’s when you will have turned the corner into really reaping the benefits of the mindfulness practice, when you’re able to become mindful more or less, regardless of what’s happening to you or outside of you.
  • So one of the big ways by which mindfulness boosts happiness is by connecting us with our inner source of happiness, but that’s not the only way in which it enhances happiness levels.
  • Now, in addition to these, there’s yet another way by which mindfulness improves our happiness levels.

Two Approaches To MBA

  • In the next couple of videos I will go over what you can do to keep your happiness levels up after this course ends.
  • I am going to try and summarize everything that we have covered over the past 80 odd lectures in about ten minutes.
  • What are the determinants of a happy and fulfilling life? If you were to take a bird’s eye picture of everything that we have talked about, say from the 15,000 foot level, which is the height at which the condor flies, by the way, you would walk away with the conclusion that once our basic necessities are met, we need three things in order to be happy.
  • Now, we didn’t spend a lot of time talking about the importance of basic necessities for happiness, of course.
  • Once our basic necessities are met, three things become very critical of happiness.
  • The first thing we need is to feel that we are good at something.
  • We have discussed this need in several contexts, including how one of the reasons we seek superiority is so that we can assess our progress towards mastery.
  • If you remember how flow enhances happiness by enabling our progress towards mastery.
  • One other context in which we discuss mastery is taking personal responsibility for our happiness.
  • A big reason why taking personal responsibility for happiness or taking what I call internal control sometimes enhances happiness is because it fosters what might be called personal mastery.
  • The second thing that we need in order to be happy is to feel a sense of intimacy or connection with at least one other person.
  • We discuss belongingness in many contexts as well, including when discussing the need to be loved, and also the need to love and give.
  • It is also this same need that leads some of the others, some of us to become avoidant.
  • It is the same need, again, that is at least partly responsible for why we feel good when we are kind and generous to others.
  • Belongingness, the third thing that we need to be happy is to have a sense that we are free.
  • We discuss autonomy in many contexts including how being superior to other people fulfills this need for autonomy.
  • That is how the need for autonomy evokes this psychological reactance among those who feel controlled by us.
  • Finally although I didn’t explicitly bring it up when discussing the idea of internal control and how internal control enhances happiness, autonomy is actually one of the big reasons.
  • Autonomy over our thoughts and feelings, over our internal environment, which enhances our happiness levels.
  • When you have freedom over what you think, life becomes much easier.
  • From a 15,000 foot level, it seems we need three things to be happy once our basic necessities are met.
  • That is, we need an M, a B, and an A. So, what we all need in order to be happy is to get an MBA.
  • Okay so back to our summary, the conclusion that we need all three things, mastery, belongingness, and economy to be happy are actually not news.
  • Those who are familiar with something called self determination theory will know that the importance of all these three needs has been documented in several studies.
  • This is the height at which the fourth determinate of happiness after basic necessities have been met comes into view.
  • In the case of autonomy, the two roots are the need for external control, control over other people or over outcomes, and the need for internal control.
  • A person who seeks superiority over others is someone who believes that life is a zero-sum game.
  • Or put differently this person thinks that things that she needs to be happy are scarce, which is why she ends up seeking superiority over others.
  • If things weren’t scarce, and were in face abundant, she wouldn’t be as motivated to seek superiority over others.
  • So he feels incomplete and therefore needs somebody else to complete him.
  • Now at first blush, when you look at the summary, it might seem that certain important elements in the course, like the first habit of the highly happy, which is prioritizing but not pursuing happiness, and the seventh habit, mindfulness, may seem to be missing from the two approaches to MBA framework.
  • As you may recall from the first happiness exercise, defining and incorporating happiness, I recommended defining happiness in terms of abundance.
  • If you think about the three things beyond basic necessities that we need in order to be happy, namely mastery, belongingness, and autonomy, has three legs of something that we can call the happiness stool.
  • What I’m trying to say here is that the practice of mindfulness helps us progress towards mastery, belongingness, and autonomy.
  • Finally, mindfulness promotes autonomy by enabling us to take greater internal control.
  • As many studies have found, practicing mindfulness enables us to have greater control over how we react to situations, through this response flexibility that I talked about.
  • Over how much control we have over the things that are happening in our life.
  • There’s actually a lot more that I could say about mindfulness and how it promotes progress toward mastery, belongingness, and autonomy.
  • I do quickly want to mention that the topics of trust, trusting others, and trusting life, and how they contribute to happiness, are also relevant in these two approaches to MBA framework.
  • How do I continue with the happiness habits and exercises so that I can sustain my happiness, even after the course is over? That’s a question to which I’ll get to.

The 7 Happiness Sustaining Strategies

  • At the end of this video we’re going to do a happiness measurement, the third and final one.
  • Hopefully, you will see that your happiness levels have improved.
  • Just because your happiness levels have improved since you started the course doesn’t mean that it will continue to stay improved in the future.
  • It’s going to take quite a bit of conscious effort and smartness on your part in order to keep your happiness balloon big.
  • As several authors, including Jonathan Haidt in The Happiness Hypothesis and Chip and Dan Heath, Switch has noted.
  • Your own habits, which were the cause of your lower happiness levels, have been conditioned into you for years, if not decades.
  • It is important that you do your best to not just be aware of how various genetic and social influences might reinforce the scarcity mindset and the seven deadly happiness sins.
  • That is, for your happiness balloon to continue to stay inflated you need to find ways of mitigating the happiness sense and reinforcing the happiness habits in the future, for the rest of your life I would say, in fact.
  • I asked Marshall, why is it that even the smart and successful people, those people who are otherwise brilliant at setting and achieving their goals, falter so badly when it comes to leading a happy and fulfilling life? Here is what he had to say, listen.
  • What I tell people Matt, is I’m going to teach you a process that takes two minutes a day.
  • Now how about professor Raj? You ever try to be right just a little bit too much on occasion, yeah? How many angry or disturbed comments did I make about people yesterday? Did I say it would be something nice for my son, my daughter, my wife, my son-in-law? Every day, I ask myself these questions.
  • Why? To keep it in my head. Why don’t people do what I teach? As you probably know, I’m the only person I would bet you’ve ever met that’s collected feedback and published it from tens of thousands of people who have been in my classes.
  • How many people have ever had a dream that resembles this dream? How many years have we been having the same dream? Why don’t people do what I teach? They’re busy, they’re overcommitted, they’re tired, they’re depleted, and it is very, very hard to keep stuff in our head. Why do I pay someone to call me every day, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t do it?
  • So as you just heard Marshall say, one big reason why we all find it difficult assessing happiness levels is because we postpone prioritizing happiness to a later date.
  • We tell ourselves that we will start practicing the happiness enhancing habits in a few weeks or months.
  • So it’s very important to make a very strong commitment to yourself, that you’re going to do your best on a daily basis try to, starting today to do things that mitigate the seven deadly happiness sins and reinforce the seven habits of the highly happy.
  • This leads me to the first strategy for sustaining happiness, which is to respond to daily questions posed by what Marshall Goldsmith calls a peer coach.
  • A peer coach is somebody who will ask you a series of questions on an everyday basis, to make sure that you’re on track to mitigating the happiness sins and reinforcing the happiness habits.
  • The first question, for example is, today, did you do your best to prioritize happiness over other goals, like being right.
  • Let me move on now to the next set of strategies for sustaining happiness.
  • I asked Mark, why people find it difficult to break old habits like smoking or eating unhealthy and acquire new ones, like exercising ball? You’ll see in his response that Art starts by telling us how our motivational system works.
  • If you hangout with people doing a particular thing, your goals are literally contagious.
  • So hangout with people who are doing the behavior you want to perform and naturally, you’re going to join in and the other thing is don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Find out how did they do the thing that you want to do and allow them to help you and then when you reach that GUI middle stage of changing your behavior, like in New Years a lot of times people will setup a resolution to change behavior.
  • If we engage with people, both by hanging out with the people who do what we want to do and learning from them and then serving as a mentor ourselves.
  • The third strategy is to alter your environment, so that it’s easier for you to make happiness enhancing decisions.
  • The fourth strategy involves joining other seekers of happiness and fulfillment.
  • Dailygood.org is one of those initiatives that my friend Nipun Mehta, the guy who helped start Karma Kitchen, helped found, when he and his friends recognized that few media outlets disseminate good news from around the world, of people behaving in kind, trusting, forgiving ways.
  • Most people don’t like to get advice from other people, particularly on happiness.
  • I think that’s because most of us have our own pet theories on happiness and we don’t like to have those theories challenged.
  • The sixth strategy is to continue to be open minded to new happiness enhancing habits and exercises for the rest of your life.
  • Openness to new experiences is hugely important in any domain it turns up, but I think it’s particularly important in the domain of happiness.
  • Although some of these identities, for example I’m a flow person, are better than other types of identities, like I’m a status seeker for happiness, all identities are ultimately somewhat constraining.
  • So the more you believe that you don’t have a set identity and that it can change into whoever you need to become, that is, you give yourself the freedom to evolve continuously, the more easily you will find that you are able to adopt new happiness habits and exercises.
  • Same thing with a lot of the foods that we eat, and a lot of the people that we meet.
  • I tell people who are on that closed to experience end of things that if your initial reaction to new things is to discount them just because they’re new, count to ten before you say no.
  • To summarize, here are the seven strategies for sustaining your happiness levels after this course ends.
  • First I want you to do the final happiness measurement.
  • You will see the happiness measurement link come up on your screen in just a minute.
  • You have all three happiness measurements and I do hope that you have seen at least some improvement in your happiness levels.

Six-week Post-Course Mindfulness Camp

  • First off, congratulations on being almost done with the course, and thanks for watching this awful video in which I’m going to soon turn over to Swati Desai, who is a mindfulness consultant based out of Los Angeles, California.
  • She’s been practicing mindfulness meditation for 12 years now, which I guess makes her an expert mediator because over these 12 years she’s almost definitely logged more than 10,000 hours of practice.
  • I think, equally important is that she’s also well-versed in a bunch of different mindfulness practices, from loving kindness and gratitude, to self-compassion and, of course, just mindfulness.
  • This is important because many of you may not know much about meditation or mindfulness.
  • Thank you so much for your interest in this six week Aloha mindfulness camp.
  • I’m having a fantastic time taking this course with you, and look forward to getting to know you better through the mindfulness camp.
  • Here’s how this six week camp is going to work.
  • The first six weeks of this course will end on Saturday, July 24th, 2015 and we will start the mindfulness camp the very next day, and that’s on Sunday, July 25th. Every day, starting that day, we will meet virtually via Google Hangout, for the next six weeks.
  • First session will be at 7:30 am India time, which will be 10 PM EST, 7 PM PST in the US, and inconvenient 2 AM GMT. I will lead the same session on the same day again at 7:30 PM India time, which will be 10 AM EST, 7 AM PST, and a more convenient 2 PM London time.
  • Now let me tell you why I decided on a six week camp, as opposed to a four week or eight week camp.
  • A lot of studies have shown that people start to personally experience the beneficial effects of mindfulness practice in about six to eight weeks.
  • So I decided to pick six weeks, so it would not be too overwhelming.
  • You did this Aloha course for six weeks, and you will do the mindfulness camp as well for six weeks.
  • The session will likely start with a short three to four minute introduction to what we are going to do in the session and then for next 15 or so minutes we’ll do a mindfulness practice.
  • Now, this same format will be repeated every day for the rest of the six weeks until we are done.
  • As Raj mentioned in the previous video, I’m familiar with a lot of different types of mindfulness practices.
  • In the six weeks for which the camp will last, I’ll expose you to at least four different types of mindfulness practices, perhaps more.
  • Thank you very much, Swati, I can’t wait for the mindfulness camp to begin.

Goodbye…And Hello!

  • The main thing I want to do in this video is to thank a bunch of entities.
  • That was instrumental in making this course come together.
  • I actually have a whole list of people to thank and I feel like one of these Oscar Speech givers.
  • The first set of people that I want to thank is those at Coursera.
  • The second group I want to thank is the ISB Team, Dr. Arun Pereira, for opening up his purse strings.
  • Speaking of marketing and promotions, I would like to thank Bershal, Nabid, and Tiki for marketing the course on social media and in the media outlets.
  • I would also like to thank Coursera’s marketing team including Shelby and Charlotte.
  • Of course what can I say about she’s been the backbone.
  • The enthusiastic busy bee who handled the least fun but perhaps the most important aspects of the course, including designing the surveys and reading the instruction videos for the happiness exercises.
  • The third group I would like to thank is my friends, not just for emotional support, but also for being a sounding board for a lot of the course materials.
  • Franklington Hoffstead, Andy Gershof, and of course my happiness partner in crime, Neilish Mardik.
  • Coming to my family, I would like to thank my parents and my in-laws and also my super sweet and patient wife for being a constant source of support and encouragement.
  • Oh yeah, I just remembered somebody else that I need to thank, my kids.
  • The next set of people on my list is those who did the heavy lifting for the course, the shooting, the editing, etc.
  • He not only handled my happy smarts website, but also helped out a lot with the surveys and the happiness in societies.
  • Thanks Yuri, you’re a solid, dependable guy, and I really appreciate having you on my team.
  • I’d also like to thank the videographer for the course, and his team of and who often went well beyond the call of duty coming to shoot at very short notice, so thank you, guys.
  • Where there are videographers can the editor be far behind? I’d like to thank Shando Mac Urubut, who did a super fabulous job of editing as I’m sure you guys noticed.
  • The next set of people I’d like to thank has absolutely no extrinsic reward to gain from this course, but they nevertheless helped me out.
  • Believe it or not, we had over 20 guest speakers for this course.
  • I haven’t included them in interest of time, but perhaps we could include them in version 2.0 of this course.
  • Without all these guest speakers, the course wouldn’t have been half of what is was, so let’s hear it for them.
  • Check out his awesome syllabus for his creativity and personal mastery course if you get a chance.
  • Sunaina Chugani of the City University of New York, one of the most awesome people that I know.
  • That was quite a cast of characters, huh? I consider myself super lucky to have had them on the course.
  • I’m also lucky to have had the circumstances, like maybe even the universe, play a huge role in making this course a possibility.
  • Perhaps the most important factor is that a critical mass of everyday people, people like you and me as opposed to kings, queens, presidents, and dictators, have become much more interested in happiness than was the case, say, even 20 years back.
  • This is because a much larger number of people now know as a matter of personal experience too.
  • A few decades back if you had told people, you know, money can’t buy you happiness, they would have said yeah, maybe you’re right.
  • I think, people have figured it out for themselves.
  • In the book, I will cover much of the material we discussed in the course, and much, much more.
  • I would like to add that the book is not so much for you now that you have taken this course and you are super happy, as it is for somebody else that you may know, someone who’s smart and successful but not as happy as you know they can be.
  • Of course, while you’re about it, keep a copy for yourself.
  • With that, let me turn to the most important group of people that I need to thank, which is, of course you guys, and you guys have been absolutely incredibly awesome.
  • Without your support I wouldn’t have had the energy to pull this off and I sincerely hope that you got something useful out of this course.
  • Yeah, what is it, Catherine? Sorry to interrupt, Professor, but there are some people here who want to meet you.

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