Huffpost Healthy Living

How Mindfulness Helped One Prisoner Find Happiness Behind Bars

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Sometimes it takes a life-changing or tragic moment for us to reconsider what we really want from life. Unemployment, illness and personal loss are just a few of the many wake-up calls that cause people to reassess how they're living, and what they consider to be success.

Author Matt Tenney’s wake-up call came in the form of a five and a half-year prison sentence after he embezzled almost $3 million of U.S. government money. While this conviction could have sent him spiraling further along a dangerous path, he consciously decided to make a change -- and it just might have been the best thing he could have ever done for himself. While in prison, Tenney started reading about mindfulness -- which ultimately helped him to discover true, lasting happiness.

“When I started learning about this practice, it made so much sense. It was very logical, it was something that I could apply effort to and see results. And so I started practicing pretty diligently,” Tenney told HuffPost Live host Jordan Freeman. “I started learning about the practice about a year into my confinement, and within maybe a month of beginning the practice, I was making the effort to be mindful during just about every moment of the day.”

It wasn't long before Tenney realized the profound benefits of his new mindfulness practice -- even from behind bars.

“After about 5 ½, 6 ½ months, somewhere in there, I noticed that I was actually thriving in one of the most stressful environments in the world," he said. "In fact, I was actually happier right there in a military prison -- with no possessions, no parties, no surfing, no fun, no girlfriend -- than I had ever been in my entire life. We can actually train ourselves to realize happiness. It doesn’t depend on conditions outside of ourselves. And I was able to learn this firsthand in a place where there were no conditions outside of myself to help me be happy. It had to come from within.”

To hear more about Tenney’s journey from being in prison, living in a monastery and running his own business, watch the full HuffPost Live clip in the video above.

 
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