It turns out that our happiness is not completely out of our control.
Like any emotion, happiness is defined by a number of neurological patterns in the brain.
According to new guidelines published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, it is possible to manipulate these patterns in our favor – provided that no serious mental illness is a factor.
Mindfulness techniques trigger happiness
The strength of the results related primarily to mindfulness techniques.
The authors claim that an appreciation for theoretical science and philosophy is the magic formula for maintaining happiness.
The participants involved in the previous analysis, who showed self-confidence, a basic knowledge of the tips and limits of the human mind and a sensitive worldview, showed a twofold increased life satisfaction and emotional self-regulation.
This group also expressed significantly lower levels of fear, stress, negative thoughts and anger.
“In the past few decades, psychological research on the effects of mindfulness-based interventions has developed significantly and has shown a number of positive results in a variety of populations and contexts,” the authors wrote in the new article.
“The question of how subjective well-being and happiness can be promoted, however, remains open. Here we evaluated the effectiveness of an integrated mental training program, The Art of Happiness, for mental well-being in a general population.
Happiness is an art
The Art of Happiness training program is designed to help subscribers develop new ways “to grow their own happiness”.
Participating participants have the task of attending seven theoretical and practical weekends as well as two meditation retreats at the Lama Tzong Khapa Institute for Tibetan Culture in Pomaia, Italy.
During the theoretical weekends, an experimental group visits various presentations and video courses. This group then participates in open discussions on psychology, neuroscience, the history of Western thought, and the philosophy of Buddhism.
In the hands-on exercises, subscribers participate in several contemplative traditions from Western and Eastern cultures, including meditation, which focuses on moral guilt in injury, analytical meditation.
“The training we proposed to the participants was inspired by the idea, present in both Western and Eastern philosophical traditions, that happiness is inseparable from developing inner balance, a kinder and more open perspective on yourself, others and the world is connected to better understand the human mind and brain, ”said Nicola De Pisapia, researcher at the Institute for Psychology and Cognitive Science at the University of Trento, in a media release.
Train your brain to be happy
In this training process we need on the one hand the theoretical study of philosophy and science and on the other hand meditation practices. “
Reducing an emotional state to a series of cognitive and behavioral conditions – as opposed to a spiritual privilege – can make it easier to come up with solutions in times of need.
The authors recognize the tremendous role mental illness plays in overall stability while encouraging introspection alongside clinical resources.
“While there has been a consistent interest in scientific research on happiness in general, such studies have several limitations. First, most of the research has focused on clinical trials evaluating the effectiveness of happiness-based interventions, in line with more traditional psychological research that focuses primarily on studying mental disorders, ”the authors continued.
“Second, most existing interventions focus closely on the observation of individual dimensions (i.e. expressing gratitude or developing emotional regulation skills).”
The authors also make a point of differentiating between happiness and moments of satisfaction.
Happiness refers to a steady state of mind, while contentment refers to the lack of lack. While contentment can promote a happier state of being, it does not, in principle, guarantee it.
“I believe that in times like these, which are full of change and uncertainty, it is of fundamental importance to scientifically examine how Western and Eastern philosophical traditions, along with the latest discoveries about the mind and brain, integrate into contemplative practices in a secular realm can be way. The goal is to give healthy people the opportunity to work on themselves to develop authentic happiness, not hedonism or superficial happiness. With this study we wanted to take a small step in this direction, ”concludes De Pisapia.