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  • Thomas Bien

Mindfulness is the Art of Happiness

Sometimes when we are trying to live more mindfully we may find ourselves straining, approaching it as though it were a difficult and joyless job. We may have heard that it is possible to live each moment of daily life mindfully. But as we begin to practice, we notice very clearly how frequently we live in a distracted, non-mindful way. And so we try very hard, and we strain ourselves.

It is a good decision to decide to invest ourselves in living mindfully. At the same time, however, it introduces a split in our consciousness. Instead of simply living this moment, this very moment, just as it is, with depth and clarity and appreciation, now we have a goal. And the goal can pulls us into the future and away from the present. Since we want to do this well, we become frustrated when we fall away from mindfulness, and our error is compounded.

Even though we have the idea that we want to learn to live mindfully, we must live as though there is no goal at all, simply enjoying the present moment. To hold such a goal correctly means to hold it lightly. We see that it is a goalless goal. While there is a kind of effort required, it is not about fussing and straining. It is about relaxing into the present. And when we do this, there emerges a sense of joy and ease.

Resolving to live mindfully is like resolving to be relaxed. You can’t become relaxed by straining. Living mindfully is a very different kind of goal. To achieve it means it must be a non-achievement. To say it a little differently, the means must resemble the end. We can’t become mindful by straining, since straining is the opposite of mindfulness.

The art of mindful living is the art of living happily. And what could be more important than that?

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