How to Trick Your Brain for Happiness

Via: Dailygood

–by Rick Hanson, Greater Good, Sep 15, 2012
 
There’s this great line by Ani Tenzin Palmo, an English woman who spent 12 years in a cave in Tibet: “We do not know what a thought is, yet we’re thinking them all the time.”

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It’s true. The amount of knowledge we have about the brain has doubled in the last 20 years. Yet there’s still a lot we don’t know.
In recent years, though, we have started to better understand the neural bases of states like happiness, gratitude, resilience, love, compassion, and so forth. And better understanding them means we can skillfully stimulate the neural substrates of those states—which, in turn, means we can strengthen them. Because as the famous saying by the Canadian scientist Donald Hebb goes, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.”
 
Ultimately, what this can mean is that with proper practice, we can increasingly trick our neural machinery to cultivate positive states of mind.
But in order to understand how, you need to understand three important facts about the brain.

Read more: here

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The Neuroscience of Why Gratitude Makes Us Healthier

Via: Huffingtonpost

Posted: 11/04/11 09:32 AM ET

Our world is pretty messed up. With all the violence, pollution and crazy things people do, it would be easy to turn into a grouchy old man without being either elderly or male. There’s certainly no shortage of justification for disappointment and cynicism.

But consider this: Negative attitudes are bad for you. And gratitude, it turns out, makes you happier and healthier. If you invest in a way of seeing the world that is mean and frustrated, you’re going to get a world that is, well, more mean and frustrating. But if you can find any authentic reason to give thanks, anything that is going right with the world or your life, and put your attention there, then statistics say you’re going to be better off.

Read more: here

The Benefits of Optimism Are Real

Via: The Atlantic

Mar 1 2013, 8:38 AM ET
 
A positive outlook is the most important predictor of resilience. It’s not just Hollywood magic.

One of the most memorable scenes of the Oscar-nominated film Silver Linings Playbook revolves around Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, a novel that does not end well, to put it mildly.

Patrizio Solitano Jr. (Bradley Cooper) has come home after an eight-month stint being treated for bipolar disorder at a psychiatric hospital, where he was sentenced to go after he nearly beat his wife’s lover to death. Home from the hospital, living under his parents’ charge, Pat has lost his wife, his job, and his house. But he tries to put the pieces of his life back together. He exercises, maintains an upbeat lifestyle, and tries to better his mind by reading through the novels that his estranged wife Nikki, a high school English teacher, assigns her students. 

Pat takes up a personal motto, excelsior — Latin for “ever upward.” He tells his state-appointed therapist, “I hate my illness and I want to control it. This is what I believe to be true: You have to do everything you can and if you stay positive you have a shot at a silver lining.”

Read more: here