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Teach Your Brain To Be Happy
Hm? She was talking directly to my soul, obviously, but also to the neuroscientist Richard Davidson, who has studied the way we can change our brains. According to Davidson: "based upon everything we know about the brain in neuroscience... change is not only possible, but change is actually the rule rather than the exception. And it's really just a question of which influences we're going to choose for our brain. But our brain is wittingly or unwittingly being continuously shaped." (For more of the scientific nitty-gritty, listen to or read the entire interview here -- you will not be disappointed. Even if you are the type of person who is wired for disappointment.) Davidson explains that in his work studying the brains of meditating Buddhist monks (and more recently, preschool-age children), he's learned that happiness and serenity can be learned, and that after enough practice, brains can actually be changed for the better. He says, "I think that's very important and I think that most people still don't think of qualities like happiness as being a skill rather than it's typically conceptualized as a fixed trait and some people have more of it; some people have less of it."
What works, according to Davidson, for Tibetan monks and preschoolers alike, is to practice meditation and mindfulness -- to cultivate self-awareness. I know that in my family we are having a lot of tantrums -- the preschooler; uh, her mother -- and the idea that we can step back, examine our feelings, and teach our brains to deal with them in more productive ways is intensely appealing. Happiness is a skill we could all stand to develop. It's like the old maxim goes: You can never be too happy or too mindful. (That's how it goes, right?)
Richard Davidson on Beating Anxiety and Finding Happiness
5 Things Every Happy Woman Does
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