We all want to cultivate that sense of true happiness within, but if this mood seems impossible to maintain, I see you. A recent global survey found that 45 percent of respondents have not felt happiness in more than two years. Another 25 percent are not even sure what it means to be happy.
Most respondents confess to looking for happiness in sources outside themselves such as experiences, connections, wellness, money, or online shopping. Unfortunately, these sources of happiness can change in an instant. Money, experiences, and people come and go.
What if you could move toward happiness, peace, and less stress every day through two things you can do for yourself: Pilates and breathwork? Both are always available and both can help you cultivate happiness, every single day, even if you only do either for 10 minutes or less.
Let’s dig in to find out how this works so you can start feeling happier today.
What Does It Mean to Cultivate Happiness Within?
To cultivate happiness, you have to look at your mindset. We can still notice and acknowledge our feelings of unhappiness (those are real, normal, and valid!), but then choose to look for ways to focus on gratitude, contentment, balance, peace, and enjoyment to cultivate that sense of happiness within.
This is why we focus on grace over guilt at Lindywell. Grace allows us to feel that happiness, regardless of the circumstances around us. This means happiness within is not conditional. It doesn’t rely on external factors outside your control. Nor is it toxic positivity, which mandates that you feel optimistic all the time and ignore the full spectrum of natural human emotions.
You can embrace happiness when life is brimming over with excitement and opportunities. You can also cultivate happiness when life takes an unexpected turn, forcing you to confront obstacles. All because it comes from within you.
The Connection Between Mindfulness and Happiness Within
Mindfulness is one way to shift your mindset and cultivate happiness within. Mindfulness is a seemingly simple practice of being present in each passing moment. I say “seemingly simple” because it’s actually challenging to do.
Think of how many times you’ve driven from one place to another and don’t even remember the drive. You were not “present” in the car; instead, you were where your mind was: on the thing happening tomorrow, the conversation yesterday, and so on and so forth.
Women who practice mindfulness on a consistent basis tend to be happier, have higher self-esteem, and feel a greater sense of meaning in life. They also report fewer feelings of depression, anxiety, shame, and self-judgment, all of which can undermine your happiness.
I can personally attest to this after spending years watching women change their lives through mindful movement. Mindfulness trains you to be aware of emotions, thoughts, or experiences with curiosity and compassion, releasing harmful beliefs about yourself in the process. This is especially powerful when paired with movement, as all of our members can attest to. Lindywell member, Monica, said:
“Pilates and breathwork have been a huge relief and release for me. The combo has helped me to stay grounded and relaxed me when I needed it most.”
Practicing mindfulness even helps stimulate oxytocin, a hormone linked to emotional regulation, positive memories, social bonding, empathy, and overall contentment. While you can practice mindfulness in many ways, Pilates and breathwork are particularly beneficial for learning this skill.
Pilates and Breathwork Help You Nurture Happiness Within
Pilates is rooted in the innate mind-body connection. At Lindywell, we start most workouts with intentional breathing, to bring mindfulness to our body and breath. We continually come back to this breath throughout the movement as well, to maintain that mind-body connection.
When you cultivate that mind-body connection on a regular basis, it’s common for your mood to stabilize and your sense of well-being to increase. There’s actually a scientific correlation between mind-body exercises (such as Pilates) and lower biomarkers of chronic stress and psychological distress. As you practice these things more, you create more room for happiness to settle in.
Take this intentional breathing one step further with breathwork, which helps calm the nervous system and stimulate neuroplastic changes in your brain associated with positive emotions.
Breathwork is more than intentional breathing. It includes various techniques that involve the conscious control of breathing for the purpose of improving physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Breathwork exercises, like the ones available in the Lindywell app, intentionally alter the pattern and depth of breath, often in a structured manner. This brings about physiological and psychological feelings, shifts, and emotions, like happiness.
If you want to cultivate your happiness through Pilates and breathwork, sign up for our free 14-day trial of Lindywell to experience it for yourself. Already a member? Log in and press play on your next session today!
3 Ways to Get Intentional About Your Happiness
Of course, cultivating happiness within takes more than just unrolling a Pilates mat and breathing deeply. It requires intentionality in your daily choices, self-talk, and more. That’s why we’ve put together some strategies to help you infuse a mindset of happiness into your life using both Pilates and breathwork.
1. Set an Intention for Your Practice
Set a clear outcome or feeling to want to experience during and after your Pilates or breathwork session. Is it to feel calmer and more at peace? Is it to increase your balance and strength? Is it to find a healthy outlet for stress? Setting a definitive intention allows you to focus on where you want to be, rather than where you are right now.
2. Be Gentle with Yourself
We always want you to practice without judgment. When critical thoughts come to mind, I encourage you to refocus on the cadence of your breathing and remember this is all a process. Be kind, patient, and gentle with yourself as you learn how to slow down and move your body in new ways.
3. Direct Your Attention to Gratitude
It’s much harder to feel discontent when you shift your focus to gratitude. Tap into this gratitude during each Pilates and breathwork session, even if only to start. A simple practice is to bring to mind three specific things you’re grateful for. We have two great gratitude resources to start with within the Lindywell app:
Happiness Within IS Possible
Do you want to cultivate happiness no matter what season you’re in? Try these tools to help shift your mindset and empower yourself through mindful practices like Pilates and breathwork. They’ll nourish your soul and in turn, help you feel happier, no matter what’s going on around you. Check out The Balanced Life episode 86, Redefining Happiness with Stephanie Harrison, to learn more about happiness and how you can cultivate it in your life.