5 Things Buddhism Says Will Make You Happy, Backed By Science
Buddhism and Science
If you love eastern philosophy and science as much as I do, you’ll love this article. Buddhism continues to make waves in the scientific community, and there seems to be no end in sight. In many ways, they converge and agree on the same ideas. That inspired me so much, I thought I’d write a list about it!
1. Show up and be present
This is a basic- fundamental, even- aspect of Buddhism. Putting effort into staying present for everything you do has the effect of making you a much happier person. A Harvard study found that those who reminisced about the past frequently were less happy than those who stayed in the moment. Out of 2,250 volunteers, most were thinking of something else when they worked, rested, or used their computer.
The results showed that happiness was more affected by how often people drifted off, and where they went in their imagination, than by the activity they were doing at the time. The researchers say they’re confident that being distracted was the cause of unhappiness, rather than the other way round.
2. Not putting so much emphasis on money
Buddha definitely wasn’t against money; but he definitely didn’t want people to obsess over it, either. After all, society needs to continue! And Buddha did believe strongly in the concept of balance. Studies have found that after a certain amount of income, money won’t really make a difference in how happy you are. Generally, after a household is earning about $75,000 a year in total, it doesn’t impact anything.
According to the researchers behind the original Princeton study, your emotional well-being — or the pleasure you derive from day-to-day experiences — doesn’t get any better after your household is earning roughly $75,000. That said, a term they call “life evaluation” — or how you feel about your life and accomplishments — can continue to rise with higher income and education levels.
Buddha reasoned that sense money is fleeting, it could never give us the happiness we seek. Happiness, after all, comes from within.
3. Be positive
Buddha wasn’t naive; he didn’t want people to fake or have false positivity. But he did want people to look at the bright side and focus on that. After all, what you focus on you become. Scientists have done lots of research into optimistic attitudes and found that out of 83 of them since 2010, all showed noticeable support for a healthier mind and all-around happier dispositions.
From the University of Rochester:
The message is that having a positive attitude can boost your physical health, regardless of what might be ailing you. The researchers also noted that optimism seemed to have fairly consistent benefits for people regardless of demographic factors such as income level or overall health status.
4. Kindness and generosity make you happy
Buddha continually emphasized the importance of being generous. Whether it’s material objects like food and money, or just your time, compassion, and care, giving freely to others helps you to feel all-around happier. Seeing the impact you can make in other’s lives is deeply fulfilling, making you more willing to help others in the future.
From the University of Berkeley:
“The practical implications of this positive feedback loop could be that engaging in one kind deed (e.g., taking your mom to lunch) would make you happier, and the happier you feel, the more likely you are to do another kind act,” says Lara Aknin
Probably one of the biggest things Buddha stressed was a meditation practice. Buddha himself achieved enlightenment while meditating. These days, science has shown a very strong relationship between meditation, happiness, calmness, and the ability to focus clearly.
From Harvard University:
“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,”
Many studies have also shown that meditation literally shrinks the areas of the brain responsible for the fight-or-flight response, and grows the areas responsible for critical thinking and calm dispositions. The exciting thing about this research is that there’s still so much to learn about how meditation affects our lifestyle. But one thing’s for sure: Buddha knew what he was talking about.
Meditation can really have a positive impact on your life.
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