Finding Happiness And The Science Behind It
In one way or another - consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly - everything we do, every hope of ours, is linked to a deep desire for happiness.
With 256 electrodes on his shaved head, French monk Matthieu Ricard, author of "Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill", showed the same natural smile that always accompanies him wherever he goes. His left prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that is particularly active in people with positive thoughts, shows activity beyond any parameter of normality, according to The Epoch Times.
As a biologist in the field of molecular biology, Matthieu Ricard certifies the results provided by brain magnetic resonance imaging: according to science, his mental state could correspond to that of only the happiest man on the planet.
The Happy BrainYears of study have helped scientists discern with great precision that activity in the left prefrontal cortex is found to be strongly linked to feelings of well-being, while negative emotional states impress the right prefrontal area.
To the scientists' surprise, the studies revealed a clear pattern in those subjects who had a "happy brain". They were not the ones who achieved the most economic or material benefits in life, but rather a radically different group - monks and professional meditators.
Undergoing an exhaustive brain scanning experiment, several experienced meditators who practiced a compassion-focused type of meditation were able to transform the anatomy of the brain in surprising ways. Participants in the experiment increased levels of positive emotion, which was observed in the left prefrontal cortex. They also decreased activity in the right prefrontal lobe, which is linked to depression, decreased activity in the amygdala, which is a region of the brain linked to fear and anger, and increased the duration and depth of attention.
Scientists concluded that the compassion produced by certain types of meditation calmed the brain, leading to a state of well-being. The meditators' bliss consisted of a state in which there was no fear and complete control of emotions.
The "Flow State" in MeditationMost people also experience a so-called "flow state" during certain stages of intellectual or physical exercise, a feeling of happiness that delights the mind when it fully identifies with what it is doing.
According to Dr. Daniel Goleman, internationally recognized for his work in psychology, the flow state is a spontaneous feeling of delight and pleasant surprise.
According to Goleman's explanation, people become so absorbed in the flow state that their attention and awareness become merged with their actions.
Contrary to what neuroscientists have long believed, when the focused mind engages in an activity, as it does in the flow state, the brain shows less activity. It seems to have less of the "neural noise" seen when the mind wanders. This state is similar to, though not readily noticeable in, the state developed by those who meditate frequently.
Thus happiness, according to scientific findings, is a state that is not accessible by material means, but rather, is a consequence of emotional indifference and compassionate contemplation of the universe. It is more about altruism than selfishness - more about the spiritual than the material.
You can such serenity and inner harmony and happiness in the eyes of the practitioners of Falun Dafa - an ancient spiritual meditative practice that has the universal principles - Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance - at its very core. An introduction to Falun Dafa Meditation see video here.