The Science of Happiness
A meaningful life is different—and healthier—than a happy one. The research we cover here at the Greater Good Science Center is often referred to as “the science of happiness,” yet our tagline is “The Science of a Meaningful Life.” Meaning, happiness—is there a difference? New research suggests that there is. When a study in the Journal of Positive Psychology tried to disentangle the concepts of “meaning” and “happiness” by surveying roughly 400 Americans, it found considerable overlap between the two—but also some key distinctions.
Based on those surveys, for instance, feeling good and having one’s needs met seem integral to happiness but unrelated to meaning. Happy people seem to dwell in the present moment, not the past or future, whereas meaning seems to involve linking past, present, and future. People derive meaningfulness (but not necessarily happiness) from helping others—being a “giver”—whereas people derive happiness (but not necessarily meaningfulness) from being a “taker.” And while social connections are important to meaning and happiness, the type of connection matters: Spending time with friends is important to happiness but not meaning, whereas the opposite is true for spending time with loved ones.
And other research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that these differences might have important implications for our health. When Barbara Fredrickson and Steve Cole compared the immune cells of people who reported being “happy” with those of people who reported “a sense of direction and meaning,” the people leading meaningful lives seemed to have stronger immune systems.
The emotional benefits of altruism might be a human universal. One of the most significant findings to have emerged from the sciences of happiness and altruism has been this: Altruism boosts happiness. Spending on others makes us happier than spending on ourselves—at least among the relatively affluent North Americans who have participated in this research. But a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggested that this finding holds up around the world, even in countries where sharing with others might threaten someone’s own subsistence.
In one study, the researchers examined data of more than 200,000 people from 136 countries; they determined that donating to charity in the past month boosts happiness “in most individual countries and all major regions of the world,” cutting across cultures and levels of economic well-being. It was even true regardless of whether someone said they’d had trouble securing food for their family in the past year.
When the researchers zeroed in on three countries with vastly different levels of wealth—Canada, Uganda, and India—they found that people reported greater happiness recalling a time when they’d spent money on others than when they’d spent on themselves. And in a study comparing Canada and South Africa, people reported feeling happier after donating to charity than after buying themselves a treat, even though they would never meet the beneficiary of their largess. This suggests to the researchers that their happiness didn’t result from feeling like they were strengthening social connections or improving their reputation but from a deeply ingrained human instinct.
QUANTUM HEALTH TIP: Increase the energetic potential of happiness and meaning by wearing the Success & Achievement Crystal.
Gandhi's 10 Rules for Changing the World
1. Change yourself. - “You must be the change you want to see in the world. As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world--that is the myth of the atomic age--as in being able to remake ourselves.”
2. You are in control. “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
3. Forgive and let it go. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
4. Without action you aren’t going anywhere. “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
5. Take care of this moment. “I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.”
6. Everyone is human. “I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”
“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”
7. Persist. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
8. See the good in people and help them. “I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others. Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.”
9. Be congruent, be authentic, be your true self. “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”
10. Continue to grow and evolve. ”Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.”
QUANTUM HEALTH TIP: Use our Meditation Elixirs to help focus and concentration in chnging the world.
Your Brain on Breath
Slow down, and pay attention to your breath. It’s not merely commonsense advice. It also reflects what meditation, yoga, and other stress-reducing therapies teach: that focusing on the timing and pace of our breath can have positive effects on our body and mind. A recent study in the Journal of Neurophysiology may support this, revealing that several brain regions linked to emotion, attention, and body awareness are activated when we pay attention to our breath.
Paced breathing involves consciously inhaling and exhaling according to a set rhythm. For example, you might inhale for four counts, exhale for six, and repeat. Prior research shows that paced breathing exercises can both focus attention and regulate the nervous system. To date, however, we have known little about how this affects brain function in humans.
In this study, researchers at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research wanted to better understand how the brain responds to different breathing exercises. They recruited six adults already undergoing intracranial EEG monitoring for epilepsy. (EEG monitoring involves placing electrodes directly onto the brain to record electrical activity and see where seizures originate.) These adults were asked to take part in three breathing exercises while their brains were being monitored.
In the first exercise, participants rested with their eyes open for about eight minutes while breathing normally. They then sped up their breath to a rapid rate for just over two minutes, while breathing through the nose, then slowed back down to regular breathing. They repeated this cycle eight times. In the next exercise, participants counted how many times they inhaled and exhaled for two-minute intervals, and reported how many breaths they’d taken. Researchers monitored how many breaths participants took during each interval, noting when responses were correct and incorrect. Lastly, participants completed an attention task while wearing a device that monitored their breathing cycle. In it, they viewed a video screen containing black circles in different fixed locations. They were asked to press one of four keyboard keys as quickly as possible when they saw one of the circles change from black to white.
At the end of the study, researchers found increased activity across a network of brain structures, including the amygdala, when participants breathed rapidly. Activity in the amygdala suggests that quick breathing rates may trigger feelings like anxiety, anger, or fear. Other studies have shown that we tend to be more attuned to fear when we’re breathing quickly. Conversely, it may be possible to reduce fear and anxiety by slowing down our breath.
Finally, researchers noted that when participants accurately tracked their breath, both the insula and the anterior cingulate cortex, a region of the brain involved in moment-to-moment awareness, were active.
QUANTUM HEALTH TIP: Complement conscious beathing with Clean Sweep. It harmonizes energy and de-stresses the environment.
Health & Healing Hack of the Week
Another great morning practice is three-level breathing. Begin with inhaling through the nose, using the lower belly muscles. Inhale about one-third of a full inhalation. For the second part, inhale using the mid-chest muscles or lower part of the lungs, and then finish the inhale at the very top of the lungs. Then exhale fully through the mouth. Three or four of these will get the energies moving and stimulate the endocrine system and serotonin release. -- From 25 No Cost Health & Healing Hacks by Boyd Martin)
Quantum Healer of the Week
As a pioneer in Quantum Healing, Meg experienced a profound awakening in 1994 that activated her inherent template for performing and understanding the mechanics of Quantum Access® as a powerful Ascension Tool for transformation. It was during the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles that Meg experienced a spontaneous kundalini activation that opened her energy body to accept an angelic Soul Walk-In. This experience was life-transforming as Meg discovered through the guidance and wisdom of AA Metatron the magnitude of change possible when tapping into the Zero Point Field (vacuum dynamics) of the spinning Quantum Vortex, the source of creation for the Universe. Drawing from 25 years of healing experience and extensive research, Meg Benedicte has created an original and powerful healing modality, the distinctive proprietary process known as Quantum Access. By activating AA Metatron’s sacred geometry, Metatron’s Cube, in a Torus Merkaba, she can access unlimited quantum energy to transform the physical vessel into the home for Soul embodiment. When applying this alchemical modality in long-distance sessions, Meg has helped clients to quickly shift consciousness, unlock karma and remove energetic patterns so they can break free of the Duality and clear "polarized systems" that limit their human experience. By utilizing geometric relationships to wave interaction, she developed the powerful Quantum Access® Activations that are coded to bend space, access the 5th Dimension and open the Chakra portal to the Higher Self. WEBSITE
Company & Product News
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Trinity Gem Elixir for the Month
"Stone of Plenitude"
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