April 23, 2014

Happiness

How happy are you?

There are lots of books coming on the market about happiness.  I generally steer clear of this topic as happiness can be fleeting, and my interest is more focused on the longer-lasting concept of joy.  But I'm intrigued because of the scientific research. There is now evidence that not only is the body affected by emotions and experiences, but the brain is an organ that learns and is structurally changed in the process! New neural networks are actually formed.  It's all about neuroplasticity.

Purposefully thinking about good things and cultivating happiness makes new channels in the brain which become strong and resilient over time.  With enough practice, happiness becomes a mood and eventually a trait.

There is a strong association between practicing gratitude and increased levels of happiness.  The Harvard Health Publication (Nov 2011) from Harvard Medical School suggests the following ways to cultivate gratitude:
*Write a thank you note
*Thank someone mentally
*Keep a gratitude journal
*Count your blessings and write them down
*Pray
*Meditate

So if the brain is shaped based on what the mind rests upon, what are you thinking of and doing today??!

3 comments:

  1. I do agree with all of that. We can change our mindset. I focus on the positive and try to block out the negative. Not always easy but it can be done. And when we do that, it is so much easier to realize all the good and to see all the beauty that this world holds. Wishing you a happy, joy-filled day. Blessings, Tammy

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  2. Happiness doesn't appear in our lifes out of nowhere. I believe we have to cultivate it and make it happen. so I totally agree with your post.
    Let's be happy? ;)

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  3. I chastised myself the other day for this very thing. While bike-riding around town my mind drifts to many topics, and I realized how often I tend to think about negative conversations I've had with disordered people -- how useless to do so! I dwell on them b/c they are incidents that I cannot change but which caused me distress. Sometimes you unexpectedly find yourself involved (at a business or social level) with people who are unpredictable, disordered, chaotic and unstable in their thinking. They leave a trail of damage. I've decided not to dwell on these, but instead to think of my friends and the happy times/conversations we've had lately. I hope that helps! This is an interesting topic, as you point out, from a biological standpoint.

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