Happiness. We sometimes reduce it to a few positive emotions, and with feeling better about ourselves. But happiness is actually much more than that. It is a way to look at the world, an uplifted state of being, and a profound contentment with life.

What happens when happiness is out of reach? Some people seemingly have it all but aren’t happy. Then there are some who have nothing but will seem like the happiest in the world. Why is this?

Happiness can be experienced by practicing mindfulness. Looking at life with a sense of awe and wonder can help. Being open like this can help relax the mind so it takes in external stimuli in a positive way. Happiness is more than a state of mind though; it is a state of being.

You can’t really avoid emotions, but what you can do is learn to accept and navigate them. Happiness is something that can be practiced. It is a conscious choice. Be mindful of who you are and what you love about your life. Focus on happy thoughts and gratitude. Don’t let your mind wander to experiences in the past, things that don’t make you happy. This is your brain on happiness.

Practicing detachment is another way to elevate happiness. Letting go of trying to control what you cannot control is a great place to start. Future outcomes are beyond our control. Thinking about them takes away from our enjoyment of the present moment. When you find yourself worrying about the future, take a deep breath and come back to the present moment. Pay attention to how letting go of your desire to control outcomes impacts your mood, mindset and emotions.

Humans seem to experience similar personality traits clustered together. For example inner peace, strength, independence and happiness are bound to be found together. In the same way, jealousy, envy, and anger are usually found together. Based on this observation, if you focus on developing one positive aspect of yourself through mindfulness, other postive aspects are sure to follow. The more positive qualities you have, the more chances that you will achieve happiness. This is your brain on happiness.

A study by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, mapped the brain activity of employees of a Biotech company. Half of the employees were asked to incorporate meditation into their lifestyle for about three hours per week. The study found that the employees who meditated had better moods compared to their non-meditating counterparts. There was also a decrease in their stress levels, and their immune systems were stronger. The study proved that meditation has an incredible effect on brain activity that is in charge of happiness and other positive traits. He further found that meditating monks had brain activity that was nothing like he had ever seen before, further strengthening the belief that meditation was the key to being happy.

The best thing about mindfulness is that once you get used to it, you don’t need to make conscious efforts to be in control of your brain all the time. The mind learns and understands what to do in certain situations. It will automatically deal with anything you come up against, requiring minimal effort.

When you develop a positive state of mind, you will start experiencing moments of clarity that give you inner peace. It might be a snowflake falling on your cheek or the sound of a bird singing. These moments will make you realize just how beautiful life is. You can leave your stress behind, and be at peace with yourself. That is what happiness is. And you can develop it through mindfulness.