This week we marked The International Day of Happiness. Whether you celebrated it or not, personally, I find this day reminds us of how we are all united in the universal quest for happiness. Regardless of your race, faith, politics, or social status, seeking happiness transcends the human condition. While the pursuit of happiness has been a hallmark of timeless spiritual wisdom, only recently is more research in brain science and behavioral psychology revealing a profound truth—we are wired for happiness. Sadly, most of us unwittingly engage in actions and favor behaviors that sabotage our innate ability for leading a life of sustainable happiness and authentic health. Please enjoy the debut newsletter I wrote as my new role as a Contributing Editor for Conscious Good that shares three findings about the “Science of the Happy Mind.”
Society teaches us that happiness is a result, something you achieve or gain through accomplishments.
But a growing body of scientific research shows the opposite. Happiness is a state of mind, an attitude that can be nurtured and nourished regardless of external factors.
In fact, science demonstrates that people who are happy first are more successful later on: they have more energy and show more passion. And their enthusiasm is contagious. This is the foundational idea behind ABSRI: happiness matters now.
We unleash the passion of individuals, teams, customers and others by helping them put happiness first. We harness happiness to make a difference in lives, in businesses—and in the world.
When it comes to your health and happiness, there’s a new tool in your well-being arsenal—art! Whether you enjoy music, drawing, painting, coloring, or simply doodling, a new study reports that just 45 min. of practicing art lowers the stress hormone cortisol. Art in whatever form boosts your brain, body, and being! All the more reason we need to promote art-therapy and arts education in hospitals and schools. No matter how you look at it, we all benefit from the Art of Happiness. Learn more about the study below.
A new, remarkable study puts a twist on the phrase “Great minds think alike.” It should really say, “Great brains fire alike.” And that’s exactly what appears to happen in the brains of people who are best friends.
More precisely, the closer the friends are the more alike is the brain activity in regions that govern emotion, reasoning, and attention. What that means is that we tend to become best friends with those that process the world in powerfully similar ways. As the lead researcher of the study aptly states, “You can predict who people are friends with just by looking at how their brains respond.”
So, if you’ve ever wondered why you and your best friend share the same sense of humor or the same outlook on life, it might just have to do with how similarly your brains view the world. I guess the old adage “Birds of feather flock together” should really be “Brains of friends fire together.” Read more…
What makes life most rich isn’t a measure of how much you have, but how much you love. It’s a truth that’s been advanced by spirituality and now a powerful assertion being affirmed by more brain science research. We are essentially social creatures that thrive on love and connection. Love is a universal need that transcends humanity; the drive for social connection is a core feature of the human experience!
Brain science reveals a powerful finding—love and connection are essential for your brain to function, just as much are blood and oxygen. While human biology requires food and water for survival; the power of love and the yearning for connection are equally as vital for life. And it’s not just romantic love! Whether it’s the cherished love that comes from being with your partner, family, friends, or even your pet; love and connection are what fundamentally enrich your life. Love is the wealth we most seek for a happy and health life! Wishing you all a Happy Valentine’s Day. Learn more about the brain science behind love.
Human life demands tribe! Like food, shelter, sleep, or love, tribe is fundamental for your health and happiness. Tribe is an evolutionary product of the social brain—the fundamental idea that the human brain evolved to become a social organ that was key for organizing into tribes for the sake of survival, sustenance, and safety. More research in brain science and behavior reveals it is the lack of tribe that increases your risk for disease and death. When you lack tribe in your life, you experience social bankruptcy and emotional poverty. It is the eternal power of tribe that has always been the key behind your and humanity’s success story. It’s time we try; it’s time we tribe! Enjoy short video.
You all know that eating the right foods, enjoying a goodnight’s sleep, and getting moderate exercise promote wellbeing and longevity. There’s something else every human requires for optimal health and happiness that is often ignored in today’s world—social connection! Humans are fundamentally social beings with brains that evolved for social solidarity as a strategy for survival. Yet, we are living in a time of “social bankruptcy” — a society driven by psychological debt where feelings of loneliness and despair are alarmingly on the rise. As former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Murthy states, “The greatest health crisis of our generation is the illness of isolation.” Recent studies indicate that enjoying strong social connections increase your chance for longevity as much as 50%. So the next time you watch a movie together as a family, catch up with a friend over coffee in realtime, or celebrate those special moments with your loved ones, you’re doing more than just having a good time—you’re boosting your health and living longer! Learn more…
Do you ever get overcome with unexpected joy when a complete stranger holds the door for you while your hands are full or feel relief the time a random driver lets your car merge into heavy traffic as you’re running late? If so, this is your brain experiencing gratitude. So what exactly is gratitude? It’s the feeling of joy or contentment experienced in recognizing elements of your life that generate a sense of deep appreciation. You experience gratitude whenever you affirm someone, something, or even situations that reveal the positive aspects in your day. What makes gratitude such a powerful emotion is that it transcends the human experience.
In fact, more research into the brain suggests that gratitude became a survival strategy that favored early human pro-social behavior. We humans are fundamentally social beings with brains that evolved to navigate the complex world of our social environment. Gratitude was a tactic that helped regulate and strengthen social solidarity within the tribe. Expressing gratitude also boasts numerous health benefits—from increasing longevity, decreasing anxiety, enjoying a healthier immune system, to getting better sleep. It’s no surprise that gratitude is a hallmark preached by all the world’s spiritual traditions for millennia; for it is a contemplative practice that spreads a wave of happiness and joy out into the world.
As you celebrate Thanksgiving, remember to express gratitude to those in your life or just acknowledge aspects of your day that make you feel genuine appreciation. The more you embody an “Attitude of Gratitude,” the more you experience a happy brain—a happy brain is a healthy and resilient brain. So it turns out the secret in attaining health and happiness is as simple as just learning to be grateful! Read more about The Power of Gratitude…
We live in a momentous time of history. The greatest crisis we face is the Crisis of Connection. The precipitous rise in depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction are manifestations of an underlying epidemic—we witness a society increasingly disconnected from each other, from Nature, from our common humanity, and from our own spiritual essence and human potential. We suffer from these “diseases of despair” as a result of having become socially and spiritually disconnected in an over-connected world. Enjoy our latest talk on learning how revolutionary research in brain science aligns with ancient spiritual wisdom to help us to “Heal the Spirit of a Broken World.”
One of the most powerful human drives is the primal need to belong! Just as there exists a biological need for sleep, food, shelter, and sex; the deep drive for connection is a strategy for survival. Your brain evolved into a social organ that is nourished by being part of a community. In the absence of connection, your body goes into stress—literally! More research into the social brain reveals that one of the root causes of anxiety, social strife, and even political unrest in today’s world is the devastation felt of being unneeded and devalued by our tribe. Cutting edge research in brain science affirms a timeless spiritual truth—the antidote for anxiety is acceptance! Feeling needed nourishes your social brain. We hope you enjoy this beautiful piece by His Holiness the Dalai Lama that explains why this is so true.
“Housewives, workers who do windows, we had executives. And the thing that was the best, everyone helped everyone…I was compelled [to act], as I’m the type of person who can’t stand by and watch other people suffer. And to me they were suffering. They wanted to get off the island. And there was no way for them to get off the island, other than the water.” These are the heartfelt words of Captain Vincent Ardolino describing his bravery and courage on 9/11 as he took part in Operation Boatlift. For those unfamiliar with this event, it is the heroic tale that transpired in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Towers. Operation Boatlift is the largest known naval evacuation to have taken place in history.
What makes Operation Boatlift so powerful is that without even any hesitation or consideration for their own safety, Ardolino and over a hundred civilian captains instinctively knew what had to be done. Ardolino and his fellow “Boatlifters” from the greater New York metropolitan area organized an impromptu fleet of volunteer ships with one goal in mind—to evacuate the hordes of stranded survivors from the carnage. Why did they act? To save their tribe!
As we commemorate 9/11, we are reminded of humanity’s timeless power and enduring resilience that manifest the moment we become a tribe. Operation Boatlift is a social snapshot that illuminates wisdom advanced throughout the ages and reveals a forgotten secret about our common humanity. In times of tragedy and in moments of strife there exists an evolutionary drive for us to rush to the aid of others—our tribe. Tribe is the backbone of every society. Without our tribe, we perish. Tribe makes sure that we survive and thrive! You’ll know exactly what I mean by watching this powerful video!