Among the most primal drives we humans have is the insatiable need to be needed. More so than desiring money, a big home, a fancy car, the latest fashion, or Twitter likes, we crave connection. As a researcher on brain science and human happiness, I couldn’t agree more! Being part of a community and feeling needed turn out to be one of the greatest sources of our happiness. Knowing that you belong and that others value your presence in the world is a form of wealth beyond measure! Have you ever wondered why we crave connection? Enjoy learning the answer in our latest article in the series “The Science Behind Connection” for Conscious Good Media.
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.
Stress—we just can’t seem to get rid of it. From the perspective of evolution, your body’s stress-response system became a powerful strategy to promote survival of the species. Feeling stress and panic when you were being chased by a hungry predator or when you’re trying to avoid being hit by a car is a good thing! The problem we face in today’s world is learning to differentiate between “real” vs “perceived” situation of stress that actually threatens your survival. Here’s an example—about to be bitten by a poisonous snake while hiking is “real” stress; driving through rush hour while trying to catch a flight is “perceived” stress. The former could be fatal; the latter is just an inconvenience. The challenge is that many of us run on chronic stress from situations that really aren’t life-threatening…and your health and happiness pay the price. Enjoy this great video on “How Stress Affects Your Brain”
We all know that eating the right foods, enjoying a good night’s sleep and getting moderate exercise all promote wellbeing and longevity. But science now reveals a form of nourishment equally vital that’s required for optimal health and happiness. It’s the healing power of connection! I believe there to be four fundamental types of connection that are essential for achieving life-long health and sustainable happiness. They are the following: 1) Connection to People – fostering a connection to others and to your tribe; 2) Connection to Purpose – discovering your connection to a cause or calling in life; 3) Connection to Passion – experiencing connection to art, beauty, and nature; and 4) Connection to Power – cultivating connection to your Inner Potential or to a Higher Power. Enjoy this first article in the series “Science Behind Connection” that starts with the first of these four —Connection to People.
Why are kitchens and the backyard grill always the most popular places to hang out at parties? The sights, sounds, and smells of gathering over food nourish your social brain—and more studies affirm that a nourished social brain is a happy brain! Your brain evolved as a social organ and is wired for connection and bonding with others as a strategy for survival. Personally, I find that nothing brings us a deeper sense of connection and comfort than communing and laughing over a joyous meal. It’s why holidays like the 4th of July focus around food, friends, and fun times! Read more in our monthly newsletter
I always find it ironic how so many of us are on the quest to achieve happiness, yet we engage in actions and behaviors that unwittingly sabotage it. Well, it turns out your brain might have something to do with why that is. To be more precise, it’s the primal part of our brain—what I refer to as our “Stone-Age Tribe” brain—that evolved to view the world through the lens of survival. As a result, if you’re going through life operating out of strife, scarcity, and struggle, this can ultimately hijack your abundance, resilience, and longevity.
Enjoy listening to my latest media appearance on Doug Stephan’s Your Hidden Power podcast, as I discuss strategies from my upcoming book “The Science of a Happy Brain” for you to overcome these “happiness hijacks” in your life. Listen to podcast here!
When it comes to the form of wealth that makes your life most rich, spending time with the intention of enjoying life experiences with friends and family is the key to happiness. According to a growing body of social science research, the best way to increase the enjoyment, satisfaction, and general happiness for both you and others is to prioritize time over money. It all relates back to the basic idea that we are fundamentally social creatures with brains that evolved for connection and community. The wealth we seek the most isn’t in our finances; it’s in the time we get to spend with our family and friends. The abundance we covet the most isn’t making money; it’s making memories! As I like to say, “Money is the currency of transactions; happiness is the currency of interactions.”
When the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Murthy, was asked what is the greatest health crisis of our time, he responded without hesitation, “It’s not cancer. It’s not heart disease. It’s isolation. It is the pronounced isolation that so many people are experiencing that is the great pathology of our lives today.” There exists a silent and growing epidemic lurking in our society; one that poses a greater risk for illness and mortality than smoking, obesity, and addiction. It is the illness of loneliness and the epidemic of emptiness. The news is even worse for Gen Z (those between 18-22) who report being the loneliest of all Americans. But there’s hope! Studies reveal that engaging in communal activities, doing volunteer work, and feeling a sense of purpose in life are all powerful ways to combat the epidemic of emptiness and boost resilience and happiness. Read more here.
What a perfect way to honor Mother’s Day Weekend! A study now shows that it’s your mom—more than your dad—that pass on the genes for intelligence to you. While intelligence is both a product of genetics and environment—and, yes, your dad does play an important role—researchers find the best indicator for predicting intelligence is the IQ of the mother, not the father. It appears that these “conditioned genes” of intelligence get transmitted more strongly from your mother’s DNA, not your father’s. I guess it really is safe to say that moms know best. Thanks, Mom! Enjoy Video.
Happy Earth Day! While taking steps to protect the planet and care for the environment are important goals, you might not know how powerful a role Nature has on your health and happiness. Let’s face it, humans were never meant to sit inside staring at a computer screen for 9 hours a day; the human brain evolved in Nature. In a world that has become increasingly disconnected from the natural world, there exists a powerful and primal draw to commune with Nature. It’s literally in our DNA! It’s a calling that exists in the depth of our soul. There now exists a growing body of research that affirms how being in Nature is one of the most powerful antidotes to stress and anxiety. Enjoy learning more about the powerful connection we have with nature in this great National Geographic video.
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.”