Science of the mind
Innately we are hard-wired for happiness.
However, the speed and haste involved in the modern world have come to mean that we no longer simply just sit and be, a process which would allow us realise that happy is a state within us, not an emotion caused by the acquisition of external objects or achievements. We rush from one job to another, often multi-tasking and wear the badge of 'I'm busy' with pride, all the time ignoring the fact that we are always grasping and never resting.
The feelings of instant gratification we encounter through social media, also means we are constantly unhappy as we are always looking for the next hit or comparing our lives to others and thus creating a feeling of unhappiness at not having the same as them.
Dopamine, which our body creates when we feel good, is actually at its peak before an event occurs. As we have decided that happiness only comes from external elements, once the event takes place, dopamine drops, meaning we are instantly looking for the next fix.
In addition to the dopamine addiction, our minds and bodies are now also flooded with cortisol - the body's natural reaction to stress. Whereas historically when in a situation of fight or flight, cortisol would have soared but been dealt with by the decision to fight or move on, in the modern world, the amygdala - the part of the brain that creates the fight or flight - has been so assaulted by the stresses of the modern world, it can no longer separate real from imagined danger and so reacts to any pressure we bestow upon ourselves.
In turn, as the increased presence of cortisol in our body burns excess amounts of blood sugar, leading us to reach for an energy fix of sugar or caffeine, we find ourselves on a constant rollercoaster where exhaustion becomes a norm. We believe this is how we should live in the modern world.
samten disputes this.
Science has shown that no matter how deep our thought patterns and habits run, we all have the ability to change. Neuroplasticity, the arm of science that deals with the mind has proved that the brain has the ability to create new neural pathways, thus changing the way we think and act. The way we do this is through training, such as meditation.
When we practice mediation and mindfulness on a daily basis, we learn to find the happiness within, to deal with the negative thoughts and emotions that often flood our minds. We learn to reduce the flow of cortisol and to rely less on the dopamine hit and instead to increase our levels of oxytocin - the body's natural reaction to feelings of unconditional love, calm and security. It is the hormone we are engulfed in at birth and in reprogramming your neural pathways through meditation, we can once again learn to smile from within.