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Happiness is
Our Business

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.

Group of young hikers in the mountainsWhether it’s a walk in the woods, a swim in the sea or staring at a sunset, nature makes your brain happy. Do you ever wonder why we crave nature so much? The answer goes back into our distant human past that reveals how the human brain evolved. Let’s face it, humans weren’t meant to sit for endless hours a day in cubicles facing a computer screen. The human brain developed surrounded by nature. It’s a concept in science known as “nature connectedness” or “biophilia”—the intimate relationship between nature and your happy brain.

Another emerging field, known as eco-psychology, advocates that though the human brain may be adapting to our fast-paced world, its original function was to respond to the natural world in which we dwelled and evolved over millennia. 

A study cited in my book Brain, Body & Being reports, “When study participants were put into fMRI machines and shown images of hectic urban life, the area of the brain, known as the amygdala, showed greater activity. This is the area of the brain that governs the ‘fight-or-flight response.’ When this mechanism runs rampant, we experience heightened levels of stress and anxiety…. In the same experiment outlined above, when participants were shown images of the outdoors, activity in the anterior cingulate—the area of the brain that governs altruism, contentment, and an overall sense of peace—flashed with activity.”

If you’ve been putting off relaxing because you think it requires the expense of a massage or visit to a spa, think again. You may find the same benefits from a short walk along a lake, a tree-lined street or during a romp in the park with your pooch. So what does the all mean for you and your ability to achieve greater health and happiness? Discover the answer in my piece This Is Your Brain on Nature.

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Girls making arts and crafts togetherIf there’s one aspect of human behavior that favored survival, it’s our deep ability to express compassion and empathy toward others. More so than being driven by conflict, the human brain is a social organ that evolved for cooperation and caring. It was this functional strategy that allowed humans to become the dominant species today.

It’s what you’ll discover in my upcoming book Science of a Happy Brain that states, “In our Age of Disconnection, our ability to experience community and connection is the crucial key lacking today in order for you to claim your Happy Brain. Why is compassion so vital for your and society’s ultimate happiness? Without the love and nurturing received from your parents or other adult caregivers, you wouldn’t have survived childhood. A life lacking in the caring and concern from your friends and family is one of despair and dismay. A society that values acts of kindness and charity to all its members fosters a Happy Brain for all.”

There’s a remarkable discovery emerging about your brain that relates to human behavior—compassion is a trait you can cultivate. Just as you train the muscles in your body, it’s possible to build your “compassion” muscle. I find that the opposite of compassion is comparison. While comparison is an attribute that highlights our differences, compassion is a human quality that reveals our similarities. Compassion is the invisible hand that allows you to relate to those around you.

We sadly live in an age that promotes division and discord. Now, more that ever it’s important for children to learn the tools for empathy. A new study finds the link between Arts Education in schools promotes more than creativity, art builds compassion. As a lead researcher in the study states, “Arts learning experiences benefit students in terms of social, emotional, and academic outcomes.” Arts Education is more than a nicety, it’s an absolute necessity for raising happy and healthy kids. Art is one way to engender compassion, which in turn allows you to enjoy the benefits of a Happy Brain. My motto continues to be: Happy brains make happy people. Happy people make a happy world.

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gratitude brainWe all want to lead a happy and healthy life, but one key to cultivating health and happiness may reside in your brain—more specifically with the power of your breath and learning to control your thoughts. How do the latest research in brain science and behavioral medicine mirror sacred Yoga teachings and timeless meditation practices to cultivate a Happy Brain? As I discuss in my upcoming book Science of a Happy Brain, I define a “Happy Brain” as enjoying balance, longevity, and resilience in an age of anger, anxiety, and addiction.

Yoga is more than mastering physical postures. The 3,000 year-old philosophy of Yoga declares how Yoga is a practice to “calm the incessant turnings of the mind.” Meditation is more than simply sitting in quietude. Meditation is a timeless contemplative practice observed among all the world’s spiritual traditions that brings you into the present moment.

Many ancient healing traditions—such as Yoga, meditation, and Tai Chi—have all recognized that one of the simplest and most effective tools we have to alleviate stress and create more balance, longevity, and resilience is by harnessing the power of your breath.

You may be surprised to learn that recent advances in neuroscience and mind-body medicine offer a deeper understanding of how something as simple and available as the breath is the key for unlocking a Happy Brain! A phrase I’ve always said: How you choose to breathe, determines how you choose to live. How you choose to live, determines how you choose to heal. How you choose to heal, determines how you choose to be happy.”

So when someone says to you “take a breather,” there might actually be some medical merit to it. I find that one of the easiest ways to achieve greater calm in your day is to focus on your breath for as little as five minutes. As Dr. James S. Gordon, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Georgetown University Medical School, states, “Slow, deep breathing is probably the single best anti-stress medicine we have.” Doing mindful, calm breathing exercises for just five minutes a day can begin to shift your emotional and mental health. So it just might be that focusing on your breathing, specifically on the quality and state of your breath, could be the key to unlock your potential for a Happy Brain!

WARNING: Slow, deep breathing may cause long-lasting side effects such as increased happiness, optimism, health, calm, and alertness.

If you’re curious to discover how ancient Yoga philosophy and meditation techniques align with cutting-edge brain science research to help you achieve greater health and happiness, join us Sun. Feb. 24th at Loyola Marymount University’s Center for Religion and Spirituality’s workshop on “Yoga & Your Brain.”

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Couple in LoveLove is the bridge between you and everything. This one phrase—penned by the noted 13th century Sufi mystic and poet Rumi—is precisely what brain science now reveals and what timeless spiritual traditions always knew. We are wired for love and connection. Love is the sacred bridge that connects you to the world.

Love does more than rejoice the heart and warm the soul, it also powerfully benefits your brain. It’s a key concept that I look forward to sharing with you in my upcoming book Science of a Happy Brain. So potent is the drive for love and social bonding that in their absence, something remarkable happens in your brain, body, and being.

The pain felt when you lack love or healthy human contact is processed in shared regions of your brain that regulate physical pain. What does that mean? Your brain experiences equally the pain from a broken bone, a broken heart, and broken bonds. Prolonged social and emotional pain are shown to impair immune system function and DNA replication—two leading factors for disease and decreased lifespan. 

Conversely, the more you cultivate love and meaningful relationships—not just romantic—the happier and healthier you become. Love is also what cultivates the 4 Cs of a Happy Brain—Comfort, Contribution, Connection, and Compassion. From the perspective of brain science:

1) Love gives us comfort in times of strife.
2) Love acts as a form of contribution allowing us to express our calling and purpose in the world.
3) Love provides deep and nurturing connection to others in our life.
4) Love teaches us the gift of compassion and the ability to empathize the suffering of others.

As I share in Science of a Happy Brain: “The drive to know you are loved, valued, and cared for by others is just as fundamental to your health and happiness as are the importance of food, water, warmth, and sleep.” It all goes back to how the human brain evolved as a “social organ” for connection and caring.

Rumi was right! Love does connect you to everything and everyone.  Learn more about “Love on the Brain.”


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Golden Retriever dog giving paw owner, closeup photoEver wonder why your dog becomes so passionately excited seeing you even if you’ve only been gone for five minutes? How do you know exactly what your dog is feeling from simply its bark or gaze? It turns out you speak “dog” better than you think. It all goes back to the powerful bond developed between dogs and humans. Archeological research reveals that our special bond with dogs is extremely ancient with the discovery of burial sites showing dogs being buried alongside humans nearly 14,000 years ago. The bond between you and your dog is more than powerful, it’s primal.

What’s even more incredible is how current discoveries in brain science indicate the human brain evolved to communicate non-verbally with “man’s best friend.” Here’s a fun act—the same neuro-chemicals released in a dog’s brain when it sees you are identical to those released in your brain when you’re deeply in love. That’s right, your dog is constantly in love with you and isn’t shy to show it! Enjoy learning more about this special bond in  “Why Dogs & Humans Love Each Other”

 

 

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Screen Shot 2019-01-02 at 11.12.50 PMAwaken to a new way of parenting with proven tools that will help your amazing children be EVEN MORE resilient, authentic, mindful and aware — because we can all use support to be the best parents we can be! Whether you desire to be a more mindful parent or your kids to achieve balance, longevity, and resilience, join Dr. Jay Kumar and numerous noted experts at the free online Mindful World Parenting Summit Jan. 21-27, 2019. to explore the latest research and applications for raising healthy and happy kids. Register for this free online seminar and enjoy my interview “Achieving Balance, Longevity & Resilience” for your kids.

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As you start the New Year, enjoy our short video on Dr. Jay’s upcoming book “Science of a Happy Brain” coming out in 2019.

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fullsizeoutput_a605Happy New Year, everyone! As you embark on the upcoming year, here’s a vital question I wish to ask: How connected are you to your potential in life? How equipped are you to actualize your goals and vision for prosperity and abundance? As someone who researches the brain science of happiness, I want to reveal why connecting to your potential is vital in order for your intentions for health and well-being to become a reality.

I find one of the greatest obstacles that can prevent you from achieving your life’s goals are self-doubt and the self-created excuses we carry in our mind. Trust me, you’re not the only person who’s ever experienced this behavior, nor will you be the last. In fact, timeless spiritual wisdom seems to align with evolutionary biology and behavioral psychology. When taken collectively, they reveal how your brain evolved to favor operating in self-doubt and holding on to the negative beliefs we construct over time. Well, isn’t that just great? But it doesn’t have to be this way.

More research in brain science reveals how you can overcome the mental traps that sabotage your dreams and goals. Learn how in our recent article for Conscious Good Media how you can begin to “Connect to Your Potential.”

Health & Happiness for the New Year,

Dr. Jay
The Happiness Professor
Connecting to Your Potential

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Image 12-21-18 at 7.39 PMWhat is passion? More importantly, why is passion the key to a life of health and happiness? While most of us tend to associate passion with the sensual or romantic, it is much more. As French General Ferdinand Foch once declared: “The most powerful weapon on Earth is the human soul on fire.” Passion is the vital fuel that propels you on the journey toward happiness. Think of passion as the innate burning desire to express your gifts and shed your light onto the world. More research in brain science affirms those who are passionate about a cause or a purpose other than out of  self-interest, report greater well-being, joy, and resilience in life. Learn more about Connecting to Your Passion in my recent article for Conscious Good Media.

Follow Your Heart

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“If You Want To Get Happy, Practice Gratitude!” In the “Happiness” course I teach ay my university, I have students perform a variety of “gratitude-building” exercises throughout the semester. Here’s one simple and easy-to-use gratitude tool that you can incorporate into your daily regimen. Bring to mind three people—alive or deceased—whom you are genuinely grateful for in your life. They don’t have to be the same people every day you do this. They don’t even have to be people. You can think of a pet, the one you have now or the one you loved as a child. The important thing is that you do this exercise the first thing when you wake up! Envision each person in your mind for about 10-15 seconds, and send either a verbal or silent affirmation expressing why that person—or dog or cat—mattered to you. The other important thing is to not only engage your thoughts, but the feeling of gratitude. You’ll be surprised by how much this simple exercise will brighten your day and help you enjoy the many benefits of a Happy Brain. Enjoy our video to learn more!

 

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