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Mindfulness and Life

Magic Number to happiness

The Magic Number to Happiness

By | Mindfulness, Mindfulness and Life | No Comments

Research suggests that there is a magic ratio to happiness, based on your amount of positive and negative experiences. Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson identifies the optimal ratio as about 3:1, meaning 3 positive experiences to every 1 negative one. Most people are stuck around 2:1, which is just enough to get by, but not to flourish.

What does it mean “to flourish”? It is to “live within an optimal range of human functioning, one that connotes goodness, generativity, growth, and resilience” (Fredrickson & Losada, 2005).

Happy CookiesIn relationships, the bar is set even higher. Happy couples tend to have a 5:1 ratio, and those in the 2:1 range are likely to divorce. This bar continues to rise as you expand to other relationships. In general, the less often you interact with someone, the more positive to negative experiences you’ll need to have a happy relationship.

Fredrickson explains the individual effect through her broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. The theory suggests that the cumulative experience of momentary positive emotions aids in the development of resources for long-term success and well-being, in particular through growth in resilience (Fredrickson 1998, 2001).

However, the power of the ratio does not go on infinitely. Individuals who have a positive to negative ratio of over 11:1 are just as unhappy as the 2:1 individuals. There is balance to everything.

The easiest route is to improve your ratio is to find more positive experiences. There are plenty of ways to have a positive experience, including contacting a friend, writing a gratitude log, volunteering, and giving a compliment.

Happy BoysIn our already highly-quantified world, it may feel silly to add yet another metric to count. You might be wondering – why does anyone need to track these experiences, when we can just ask people if they are happy or not? Well, a separate study examined the effect of positive emotions on life satisfaction and resilience. After a month of tracking emotions, it was found that improvement in resilience was predicted by the quantity of positive experiences (Cohn et al, 2009). Meanwhile, negative experiences and self reported life satisfaction did not lead to any gain in resilience.

How do you even identify positive and negative experiences? Through mindfulness! Use Pocket Clarity to develop your awareness so you can identify your positive and negative moments throughout the day. Pocket Clarity memberships are available for as little as $5 per month! Join the club today.

  1. Fredrickson, B. L., & Losada, M. F. (2005). Positive Affect and the Complex Dynamics of Human Flourishing. The American Psychologist, 60(7), 678–686. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.60.7.678
  2. Cohn, M. A., Fredrickson, B. L., Brown, S. L., Mikels, J. A., & Conway, A. M. (2009). Happiness Unpacked: Positive Emotions Increase Life Satisfaction by Building Resilience. Emotion (Washington, D.C.), 9(3), 361–368. doi:10.1037/a0015952

Photo credits: Flickr, Flickr, Flickr

Meditate in the Morning

Why Meditating First Thing in the Morning is Awesome and How to Get Started

By | Mindfulness, Mindfulness and Life | No Comments

Trying to decide when to meditate? Developing a morning meditation routine can be key to developing a consistent meditation practice, and may provide the most benefits. In this post I explain why meditating in the morning is a good idea and then break down how to get started.

Why Meditate in the Morning?

man257It wakes you up

There are a variety of types and forms of meditation. Some can help you fall asleep, others can invigorate you. A body scan meditation that has you lie flat might just lead to an early morning nap. Choose a focused attention or loving kindness meditation that engages you and calls for you to sit upright and at attention. With the right intention, you’ll leave the session charged up and ready for the day.

Your mind is clear

Once you get started in the activities of the day it is hard to stop. By meditating first thing in the morning, you reduce the amount of stressors from the day that can disrupt your meditation.

Fewer distractions

The key to meditating early in the morning is that less people are awake. This means less people demanding your time via text, email or otherwise and expecting immediate responses.

breakfast-food-maple-syrup-4626-ScaledEasier to create a habit

A habit is a behavior done with little or no conscious thought. With enough repetition and the right setup you can make meditation a start to a strong morning routine. (See below on how to get started) The more variables that get placed into your day (a deadline gets pushed up, a new crisis happens) the lower the chance you will succeed in developing a meditation habit.

More of the day to enjoy the benefits of meditation

Simply put, if you meditate early in the day, you can gain the benefits of charging yourself up from the start. (And possibly have those effects last throughout the day!)

How To Get Started


bed-hostel-hotel-4217-ScaledChoose your place to sit

Be specific. Get your pillows or chair and put them in a room that you know will be quiet and removed from distractions. Do this the night before, so all you need to do in the morning is roll out of bed and head to your sitting place. If you can avoid it, try to not meditate in bed. Sit on the floor at the side of the bed instead.

If meditating outside, find a location that will not have too much street traffic that could be jarring (garbage trucks, for example).

Get your guided audio of choice ready

If you use a mobile app like Pocket Clarity, you can easily choose the session that meets your needs or set a timer. Reduce the barriers to getting your practice going by putting your meditation app on your phone’s primary homescreen.

Set your alarm

The easy excuse to skip a morning meditation is that you slept too much and have to get started with the day. Nullify this excuse by setting an alarm. Skip the snooze button and take control of your day from the start. If you are giving yourself enough sleep, you’ll soon not need an alarm at all.

Give yourself time

A corollary of the previous. Allot enough time for you to complete a meditation. You should not have to glance at the clock to make sure the meditation will be done in time.

Keep the pace, even on weekends

Remember that weekends are an arbitrary construct. We could have 4 day work weeks or 7 day work weeks, it would not change the fact that your body wants a reliable sleep/wake schedule. There’s nothing wrong with sleeping in from time to time, but you are hurting your success if you plan to sleep until 10am on weekends while sleeping until 6am during the workweek.

Get a good night’s rest by starting with an evening routine

Set an evening routine that allows you to wind down before going to bed. That means being away from your cell phone or computer for 30 minutes before bed, so your brain can unwind. It is a great time to read a book, talk with your roommates or family, or meditate (see what I did there?).

Start a Nightly Routine, use Siri

Need help remembering to start getting ready for bed? Siri’s got you covered.

Take Action

By following these steps, you should be able to fill in the statement below. To do this well, it might make sense to complete the statement in reverse order (decide when you need to start your day, which informs when you wake up, which informs when you need to go to sleep to get a good night’s rest.):

The Morning Meditation Pledge

To develop my morning meditation practice, I will set a reminder to wind down at pm and go to bed at pm in order to wake up at am. When I wake up, I will go to and meditate for minutes, which will allow me enough time to do the rest of my morning routine starting at am. To make my meditation practice easier, I will use and it is on my phone’s homescreen.


In Conclusion

To be clear, any meditation habit is better than no meditation habit. But by taking these steps you will be in good shape to start a regular meditation practice that gives you the most benefits. When you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up over it, just get back to the routine.

Tell me what you think! When do you meditate during the day and is it working for you? Contact us and we might include your comments in a future post.


Thanks to Joel of Buffer for the last two tips on how to get started.

Image Attributions:

Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed under CC BY 3.0
Don't Just Stand There, Meditate!

7 Trigger Moments During the Day to Remind You to Meditate

By | Mindfulness, Mindfulness and Life | No Comments

Despite your zen ambitions, it is easy to forget to stop and meditate each day. As people set a New Year’s resolution or personal goal to meditate daily, more and more will not reach their goal because they don’t develop a plan and stick to it.

You won’t be one of those people, because you’re powered with this. Behavior change is something we’ll cover more in later posts, but one of the keys is having the proper triggers-events that remind you to take action- to remind you of the desired behavior. Here are seven triggers you can use to meditate daily. Choose the one or more that you think will work best for you to keep a regular meditation practice.

1. When You Wake Up

First things first. This is my preferred time to do a single task. I currently am working on a daily goal of writing 750 words a day, and this post is a part of that. First thing in the morning is a great time because you just do it. It becomes your default action over time, just roll out of bed and get to your practice. Be aware to identify if you find yourself too groggy to get started. You should be meditating, not napping!

2. Before/After a meal

Meditating before a meal in particular can help you focus and prevent yourself from binge eating. By being more aware going into the meal, you can then also practice mindful eating. Sitting after a meal is an option as well, but try to not eat any foods that will overly distract you from your meditation practice. Be sure to pick a specific mealtime for each day, whether it is before breakfast, your mid-afternoon snack.

3. Before/After a workout

Get in the zone before you work out! Top athletes across the world are practicing mindfulness to reach their top performance level. Get yourself in the right state of mind to achieve your athletic goals with meditation before your workout. Like with meals, we don’t recommend a strong meditation after your workout, as you may be too fatigued to maintain your focus. However, post workout is a good time to reflect on what you just did, and think about ways to improve.

4. Before/After a meeting

Whether it is a meeting with an client, your staff, or just a family gathering, a meditation before a meeting or event can help you focus your thoughts and possibly encourage greater empathy.

This is particularly relevant before situations that will become testy or high anxiety. Help yourself out beforehand with a meditation, and be more aware of any of your impulsive moments. If you need to have an outburst, at least be under control of it.

Technology Hack: If you have a regular meeting and use any calendaring software, set an earlier reminder before your meeting to also prepare your mind for it. Add an extra 5 minutes or more for a quick meditation.

5. Before/During/After Your Commute

Road rage is easy – you don’t know the person, you are just yelling at a car with someone who is clearly an idiot or a maniac inside. If you know you are about to be in traffic that drains your spirit, take an extra three minutes and meditate before you take the road. It might cause you to have some empathy for the old lady who clearly has never heard of a turn signal.

If something bad happens on your drive and you feel it affecting you, take a moment to meditate before you go into your next location. The last thing you want is to project your frustration from a bad drive on to someone else who had nothing to do with it.

Public transit (or carpooling ) provides the opportunity to meditate while on the go. If you feel comfortable doing so, close your eyes and tune out. Just be sure you don’t miss your stop!

6. Before Bed

You can purposefully practice meditation as a first step in the process of preparing for bed. A key here is to make sure you start this before you are too tired, and fall asleep before getting to the rest of your preparing for bed routine.

One of the top uses of meditation audio applications is to help with falling asleep. While it is slightly different, in that after the meditation you won’t be able to reflect on it, it is still better than nothing at all.
One of the best parts of using a biofeedback application like Clarity is that it trains you to calm the mind. Use the same process to fall asleep.

7. Set a daily alarm

Set a block of time out of your daily schedule for meditation, say a half hour at 2pm, and set it as a recurring event in your calendar. The key here is to stick to your time daily.

A simple trick is to set the even as a recurring event in your calendar. This way your daily practice time is protected against someone scheduling a meeting. If you use Clarity to practice meditation you can set a daily reminder time within the app.

8. Your Personal Trigger

We hope you find a way to practice in a way that suits you. These seven moments are great cues, but we invite you to consider what are the triggers that you find most suitable. When do you meditate? Leave a comment on Twitter or Facebook and share your tips on how you best find and make the time to meditate each day.