A Short Thought Exercise for Cultivating Happiness

Zen Under Ten is about harnessing the power of our minds to cultivate ease and real happiness. In that spirit, I offer you the list below as a framework for thinking your way to a happier, more present, you – anytime, anywhere. Follow these simple steps and it is almost impossible not to smile.

1. Picture in your mind the face of someone you love. Really see them. Picture them healthy, happy, safe, peaceful.

2. Remember a good deed or act of kindness you have done. It doesn’t have to be anything big that would win a CNN Hero award or anything. Maybe you held open the door of the elevator for a stranger who was in a rush, or paid a friend the kind of sincere, meaningful compliment that made her feel seen and appreciated. Even very small acts of kindness can be a powerful affirmation of our innate goodness.

3. Recall the image of something you think is truly beautiful. It might be a painting, a sunset, a skyscraper. . . It doesn’t matter. Anything that fills you with awe and reminds you that there are beautiful, wondrous things in this world will do.

4. Imagine yourself doing something you really enjoy – laughing with friends, hiking, walking the dog, reading a great novel while sipping a cup of mint tea. Really see yourself doing whatever it may be and connect with how you feel in that moment.

Linger with each of these images for just a while. Drink in how they make you feel and understand that this list, as much as anything else, and maybe more, describes the real you – the stillness where you know exactly who you are and what is most important to you.

Are you smiling yet?


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