Spirituality for the Time-Challenged: The 10-Second Happiness Exercise

happiness
Kyle Sterk via unsplash.com

Think you don’t have time for spiritual practice in your life? Well, Chade-Meng Tan, the former Google “Jolly Good Fellow” (yes, that was his title) begs to differ. He has an exercise that can enhance your sense of happiness and well-being and it takes only 10 seconds. In fact, I’ve done it in 7-8 seconds, so I can guarantee you it won’t take much time out of your busy life.

The exercise is called The Joy of Loving-Kindness and its inventor, who goes by the name “Meng”, has taught and preached its benefits to businesses and corporations around the world. The amazing thing is, for all its simplicity, it seems to work. For example, one woman who tried it at work claims it led to her best day on the job in her 7 years there.

The Joy of Loving-Kindness works like this:

  • Step 1. When you’re out in a public situation, whether it’s at work, a social event or anywhere people might gather, identify a person in the room or your environment and just think: “I wish this person to be happy.”
  • Step 2. Find a second person and repeat Step 1. That’s it!

For maximum effectiveness, Meng recommends repeating this thought up to 8 times per person, secretly wishing for their happiness. When you do this, you may find a funny thing happens: You’ll find yourself feeling happier, too.

You can also conduct the Joy of Loving-Kindness exercise at home.

The home version of this exercise takes all of 2 minutes and lets you spread warmth and good cheer to family members and friends, even those you may not have seen for a while. Again, there are just two simple steps:

  • Step 1. Sit down and get comfortable, in a way that “allows you to be alert and relaxed at the same time.” Your eyes can be opened or closed.
  • Step 2. Bring to mind someone you wish to be happy. Feel the joy and love in your own heart. Focus your attention on spreading this joy and love to the person you’re thinking about.

Rubbish, some of you may be saying. Does this really work? I can’t say for sure that is has any effect on the person you’re thinking about, nor can Meng. But time-after-time, the ex-Googler reports it has a way of making those who engage in this simple practice feel better about themselves.

It may have something to do with focusing outward instead of looking inward.

Tim Ferriss, who provided this anecdote about Meng, reports that he does a 3-5 minuteJoy of Loving-Kindness” session every night and says it makes him a happier person. He can’t put his finger on why this happens, but surmises that:

I think it’s effective because meditation is normally a very me-focused activity, and you easily get caught in the whirlpool of thinking about yourself. This loving-kindness drill takes the focus off of you entirely—which, for me, immediately resolves at least 90% of the mental chatter.

Here’s a bonus 10-second exercise—that may help you if you’re stressed.

Here’s another exercise for the time challenged and it comes from the Catholic monk John Michael Talbot. It can be used anytime you’re feeling stressed or tensed, and is based around a simple-breathing exercise that starts with a prayer: “God, give me peace.” Once you say the prayer:

Calm your heart, still your mind, begin breathing slowly as you pray for peace. Make each breath a prayer. As you inhale and exhale, meditate on the grace and love of God.

Take a deep breath in and silently say “the grace of God.” Take deep breath out and think “the love of God.” Then, repeat as needed, 5 or 6 times works best.

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