Mindful listening

Listening mindfully

We are losing our ability to listen effectively. The world is now so noisy and moves at such a fast pace, that it can be very difficult to truly listen. We think faster, act faster, multi task and are less patient than ever before.

We are surrounded by a world of distractions. News feeds scream at us from every direction, each one having to get more and more sensationalised to penetrate our attention in a world of noise.

Even the act of listening can be difficult. The definition of listening is making meaning from sounds but we subconsciously filter sound depending on our expectations, beliefs, attitudes and intentions. What we ‘hear’ shapes our reality.

Conscious listening creates understanding and the lack of listening can lead to misunderstanding, frustration, loneliness and even conflict.

Mindful listening is a way of listening with good intent. Actively listening without judgement and a compassionate attitude.

Try the following mindful listening practice as a guide;

  • Cultivate an open attitude.
  • Focus your entire attention on the speaker and when your mind wanders keep returning it to the speaker.
  • Make time by putting away any physical distractions such as your phone.
  • Ask yourself if this the right time for this conversation? If you don’t have the time to truly focus, then it’s better that you ask to have the conversation at a time when you do.
  • Give the other person space, don’t interrupt or attempt to finish their sentences.
  • Don’t be afraid of silences. Silences give us time to think and will often encourage the other person to continue.
  • Don’t impose your opinions or tell them what to do. You may feel like you have the answer but it isn’t necessarily the right answer for them.
  • Try not to judge or presume.
  • Maintain an open mind.
  • Be compassionate. We all want to be happy and free from suffering, remember this.
  • And last of all, do not underestimate the value of just listening. You may feel as if you’re not doing anything to help when listening to a person who is distressed or upset, but being by that person’s side and truly taking the time to listen should never be underestimated. You are taking the time to walk by their side throughout their difficult journey.

Love & Light, The Happy Bee x

Isn’t it time we focussed on happiness not money?

Gross national happiness wall image

Mario Biondi – Italian Writer

Can money buy happiness? The short answer is yes and no. Although it’s clear that not having enough money to pay for our basic needs; food, warmth and shelter impacts on happiness levels. Once we have enough money to cover our basic welfare, then more money doesn’t necessarily equal greater happiness. Studies have proven that there is very little difference between the happiness of people who earn £50,000 a year compared to earning £100,000,000 a year. Instead of money buying happiness, it is how we live our lives and spend the money that we have that makes the real difference.

Once our basic needs are covered then how we spend the money we earn matters and in the 2011 study “If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy, Then You Probably Aren’t Spending It Right” recommended;

  • Spend money on “experiences” rather than goods.
  • Donate money to others, including charities, rather than spending it solely on yourself.
  • Spend small amounts of money on small, more frequent temporary pleasures  than less often on larger ones.
  • Rather than buying products that provide the “best deal,” make purchases based on what will facilitate well-being.

Psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, the author of The How of Happiness claims that about 50% of our happiness level is a result of genetics, a further 10% is as a result of our life circumstances ie where we live and our income, which leaves around 40% of our happiness level which we can influence by our personal choices.

Although we all have a personal responsibility for our own life choices, shouldn’t country leaders also do more to facilitate a happier society? Gross national product (GNP) has long been used as a measure of successful government policy but the alternative concept of Gross National Happiness was introduced by The King of Bhutan back in the 1970s. This approach values collective happiness as the goal and emphasises harmony with nature and traditional values. Economic policy decisions are balanced with the need for environmental sustainability. Happiness is clearly subjective and therefore difficult to measure, but doesn’t measuring wealth encourage an economic divide within cultures and a more unhappy, poorer quality of life for some? The alternative being a more compassionate approach to policy making, helping to facilitate national wellbeing.

With levels of anxiety and depression rising in the UK (Office of National Statistics, 2016) then shouldn’t mental wellbeing being be both a personal and national priority? Isn’t is time as a nation we valued happiness not money?

Love & light, The Happy Bee x