What is the connection between mindfulness and happiness?

Ronald Siegel
There are many connections between mindfulness (awareness and acceptance of your present experience) and happiness. Mindfulness practices can support savoring, flow (the experience of being fully involved in an activity), gratitude, engagement, and other paths to happiness. It can also change the brain in ways that make us happier.

In one set of studies, University of Wisconsin researcher Richard Davidson used brain imaging to identify a link between the practice of mindfulness and positive emotion in the brain. He first observed that the right prefrontal cortex was active in people who were anxious, depressed, or hypervigilant (scanning their environment for danger), while the left prefrontal cortex was more active in people who had fewer negative moods. After gathering data on the brains of hundreds of people, he found that the person with the most dramatic left-side activity was a Tibetan monk with extensive experience practicing mindfulness meditation.

Further studies showed that not only did other monks share this characteristic, but a shift from right-sided to left-sided activation also occurred in a group of high-tech office workers after they had been trained to do mindfulness meditation. The trained workers also reported improved mood and more engagement in their activities, and even had stronger immune system responses, compared with workers who had not learned to practice mindfulness meditation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.