Well-being is a skill

and we can enhance it, quickly in some areas.

Elements of your well-being

A few years ago, (Sept 2015) I had the pleasure of a trip to a London Theatre to hear experts present their research on well-being – and discuss what it means with the Dalai Lama.

It was an uplifting day in which we were reminded of the value of compassion – a word I heard the Dalai Lama use at least 20 times in his conversations.

Giving a talk that day, was Richard Davidson, a Neuroscientist, whose book, ‘The emotional life of your brain’ I recommend.

And if you can spare a few minutes, check out another of Davidson’s talks here, in which he shares Insights from his lifetime of research into what underpins our well being.

The four constituents of Well-Being are:

  1. Resilience.
  2. Outlook.
  3. Attention.
  4. Generosity.

But listen to Davidson in that video, to learn what these things mean, and how you can develop your ‘skills’ in these areas.

Well-Being is a skill?

Yes, the central conclusion of Davidson and others studying this topic is that wellbeing is a skill we can learn, just as we learn to drive or play a musical instrument.

And, what fascinates me is how Davidson tests his ideas – by (MRI) scanning the brains of his volunteers while they’re given stimuli to prompt various emotional reactions. (like briefly plunging the volunteer’s hand into ice cold water – and then measuring how long the brain takes to recover from pain)

Some of these volunteers are Tibetan Monk friends of the Dalai Lama who (unlike some religious leaders) is keen to understand more of the science around human behaviour.

Davidson has studied what meditation and mindfulness can do for our brains, and for our resilience and outlook on life too. And the good news is that we can change the way we react to what goes on in the world, if we’re prepared to develop good habits and practice them.

His evidence suggests that to boost our resilience may require many thousands of hours of practice, but to improve our outlook does not take much effort at all; 30 minutes a day over a two week period yielded significant results.

And perhaps if we can improve our outlook, we might be tempted to work on the long term goal of improving our resilience too.

Attention is the third of Davidson’s four pillars of wellbeing – and note his evidence based warning that a wandering mind – is an unhappy mind

Note also the shocking evidence that, on average in the US, adults spend about half of their waking time not concentrating on what they’re doing.

A seemingly absurd statistic until we stop and observe the activities of those around us (or ourselves) for a few minutes.

So, this is critically important stuff for us all to understand – especially the fact that those constant notifications from our laptops and mobile phones are killing our happiness.

And, with that in mind, let me leave you in peace now to complete today’s must-do task or create something else of value.

After all, we now know it makes us happier when we do those things 🙂

All the best, and thanks for dropping in


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