How to ALWAYS Be Happy | 4 Laws of Happiness

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How to ALWAYS Be Happy | 4 Laws of Happiness

Dr Richard Davidson explains the four laws of happiness and how we can use them in our daily lives.


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Speaker: Richard Davidson

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One of the great insights of modern neuroscience is plasticity.
Our brains change in response to experience and in response to training,
our brains change wittingly or unwittingly.
Most of the time, our brains are changing unwittingly.
And the invitation in action for happiness
is that actually we can all take more responsibility for our own brains
by cultivating healthy habits of mind we are learning
that we can actually change brain circuits
in ways that promote well-being.
The are four constituents of well-being that have been validated
by modern empirical neuroscience
and I'd like to very briefly just go through those four constituents.
The first has to do with resilience, which is the
capacity to recover from adversity.
The more quickly we can recover from adversity, the more resilient we are,
we can measure that in specific brain systems which turn out to be plastic
and with certain kinds of contemplative training,
specific mind training we can actually change those circuits in our brain
to become more resilient.
The second component is the flip side of this, which is the capacity
to savor positive emotion, to see the positive in the world,
to notice the smiles that his holiness (Dalai Lama) was talking about.
And it turns out that this too is subserved by a different circuit in the brain
and certain kinds of practices of the sort that Matu will lead us through
in just a few minutes can change these very circuits in our brain
to sustain higher levels of well-being.
The third component of well-being
that's been neuro scientifically validated has to do with attention.
And it turns out that a wandering mind,
to quote a well-known article that was published a number of years ago,
“a wandering mind is an unhappy mind”.
And if we can cultivate basic qualities of awareness to sustain our attention
we can improve our well-being,
and if there's one thing that we've learned
from modern neuroscientific research on meditation, it's that attention,
as William James said in 1890, attention can be educated.
There is absolutely no doubt about it
and this is something that we can learn.
The last constituent, the fourth constituent of well-being
that's been neuroscientifically validated
is best summarized by the single word generosity.
Being kind to others.
Acting on behalf of others turns out to
activate the very circuits in our brain which sustain positive emotion,
and they activate those circuits in a way
that can produce change that lasts more so
than anything else that has been studied by neuroscientists,
this is really something that produces very direct change
in these circuits in the brain.
So these four constituents resilience,
the capacity to sustain positive emotion or outlook, as we've called it,
attention and generosity are all critical components
and they all take advantage of engaging circuits in the brain
which exhibit plasticity and can be change through intentional training.
So the invitation, again, is that we can all take more responsibility
for our own brains by engaging in certain simple
mental hygiene which can change these circuits
in ways that will enable us to be more happy.
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