Journey to Happiness & Peace Dr Sudhir Shah MD DM Neurology Your Well Wisher... www.sudhirneuro.org 2nd June 2013
If you want to be HAPPY, THEN BE…
Happinessis a Journey, not a destination There is no better time to be happy than… NOW! So be Happy Now…
Purpose of life • Everybody wants to live • Everyone wants to be happy ( nobody wants unhappiness ) • Everyone wants peace ( nobody wants otherwise ) • Ultimate purpose of life is to enjoy and live happily and make others happy…
Disclaimer • Nobody is perfect and all of us are students • Easy to Preach, but not very difficult to Practice • Happiness is not really hypothetical • Definition of Happiness varies from person to person • Also it is dynamic in the same person usually • It is journey rather than destination • But it is the dialogue we have to initiate now...
Plan of my talk • Defining Happiness • Psychology of Happiness • Neuroscience of Happiness • Measuring Happiness • How to be Happy • Philosophical and Spiritual perspective
Happiness Defined • Aristotle put it, “Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and the end of human existence”!
Happiness Redefined Happiness is:A pleasant feelingA positive evaluation or judgmentA favorable explanation after the factAn optimistic expectationA sense of inner peaceA sense of connectedness A spiritual experience
Psychology and Evolutionary History The Triune Brain
But to Cope with Urgent Needs, We Leave Home . . . • Avoid: When we feel threatened or harmed Leads to Anxiety disorders; PTSD; panic, terror; rage; violence→ leads to insecurity & pessimism • Approach: When we can’t attain important goals Leads to Addiction; over-drinking, -eating, -gambling; compulsion; hoarding; driving for goals at great cost→ Frustration & disappointment • Attach: When we feel isolated, disconnected, unseen, unappreciated, unloved Leads to Borderline, narcissistic, antisocial PD; symbiosis; folie a deux; “looking for love in all the wrong places” → Rejection, unloved This is the brain in its reactive mode of functioning - a kind of inner homelessness
Three Levels of Happiness • Three levels of happiness : pleasure, joy and bliss • All people fall into one of three groups... those who are spiritually awake, those who are asleep and those who are somewhere in the middle. • Your own personal definition of happiness will depend on which of these groups you belong to
Pleasure • For those who are largely asleep • Happiness is sought from outer world and is characterized by pleasure • Sensual, instinctual and physiological • Always perpetual and demand for more and more. Leads to inevitable pain ANIMAL INSTINCT
Where they find pleasure • Food • Sex • Places • Listening Music • Fragrance But does happiness reside here?
Physical Pleasure and the Ventral Striatum • When people experience physical pleasure, the • ventral striatum is activated (George, 1995)
Joy • Begin to feel happy for no particular reason • Comes from inner world (self) • More psychological • Refined Desires • Through service to mankind, success, achievements & spiritual practices like prayer, chanting , religious reading and satsang JOY is HUMAN • JO
Bliss • The highest state • Here mind and all its activity ceases • Our consciousness becomes identified with universal consciousness • Experience of just being • Permanent meditative state • Fully awake PIOUS PERSONS
Inner Peace • Inner Peace refers to a state of being “mentally” and “spiritually” at peace, with enough knowledge and understanding to keep oneself strong in the face of discord or stress. • Peace of mind is generally associated with happiness, bliss and contentment
Mindfulness Practice • Observing the body and mind intentionallyLetting experiences unfold from moment to moment and accepting them as they are • Observing thoughts without getting caught up in them.No effort to control anything except the focus and direction of the attention. Not a passive process, yet does not involve trying to get anywhere • Eating meditation, sitting meditation, working meditation and meditation during each act is the goal of mindfulness practice
Kayotsarga Tratak Suryasamyam Adarshdhyana (mirror) SwaminarayanDhyana Arup Dhyana PurnayogaDhyana AtitDhyana (past) Bhavidhyana (future) SarpalanchanDhyana SamarpanaDhyana Tathata Hoo-Dhyana (Dynamic Meditation) SahajDhyana Your own system Meditation • PatanjalDhyana • Anapan Sati • SmritiUpasthan • Vipashyana • PrekshaDhyana • Jain Dhyana • SpandDhyana • Mantra Dhyana • NabhiDhyana • SwapnaDhyana • NidraDhyana • Yoga nidra, Nyas • Kriya Yoga • MrutyuDhyana • T.S Meditation • Kundalini All methods are great
Vipashyana Operation of the mind, by the mind • Calm and quiet mind • Awake and attentive mind • Equanimous mind
+ Glutamate Prefrontal cortex Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus Activation by Meditation + Endorphins + Experience of Well being
+ Glutamate Reticular nucleus of Thalamus Prefrontal cortex Activation by Meditation + GABA - + Experience of just being Inhibition of Superior Parietal lobe
The process of meditation apparently increases activation in the prefrontal cortex and stimulates the reticular nucleus of the thalamus, leading to release of inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. GABA have a central role in cortical inhibition and Cortical Silent Period, modulating cortical excitability and neural plasticity
So, in conclusion Pleasure is dependent on others, joy less so and bliss is completely independent of anything • Pleasure is animal, joy is human and bliss is next to Divine
Three levels of Happiness BLISS Being part of something bigger than yourself GABA, Endorphins Happiness JOY Happiness within Oxytocin, Vasopressin, Dopamine PLEASURE Worldly things Serotonin, Dopamine , Catachoalmines Time and knowledge
Instruments Used in the Study of the Brain and Happiness Can we really measure happiness, and how? Who would know better than Neurologists and psychologists?
Neuropsychological testing (three level questions ) • How are you feeling right now (from 1 to 7)? • Introspection • All things considered, how happy are you these days (from 1 to 7)? • Introspection, comparative judgement • On the whole, how good do you think your life is (from 1 to 7)? • Introspection, comparative judgement, relative to conception of ‘the good life’
Happiness ‘Continuum’ • Level 2 • Judgements about feelings • Net level 1 happiness • Well-being • satisfaction • Level 3 • Holistic evaluation of value of life • Flourishing • Needn’t include pleasures Level 1 • Momentary feelings • Mood • Pleasures • Not suffering More emotional, sensual, and reliable More cognitive, moral, and easily biased
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses changes in electrically charged molecules when they are place in a magnetic field to assess differences in cerebral activity in different regions of the brain
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) • Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) tracks the brain’s blood flow and oxygen use -two measures of neuron activity • fMRI is useful to find out emotional processing in particular areas of brain
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans are good for showing the many brain structures that may be involved in a functions like pleasure and help to examine the processing of neurotransmitters
The Brain and Happiness • Different components of happiness are found in different areas of the brain. That is, happiness does not seem to have a clearly defined neurobiological home