Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

It really is the journey rather than destination (the neuroscience of happiness)

hmm….maybe this is why I am almost always happier gathering material and resources for articles, reports, papers, etc rather than the actual writing…

From the 28 January Salon article by Lucy McKeon

They say money can’t buy happiness. But can a better understanding of your brain? As recent breakthroughs in cognitive science break new ground in the study of consciousness — and its relationship to the physical body — the mysteries of the mind are rapidly becoming less mysterious. But does this mean we’ll soon be able to locate a formula for good cheer?

Shimon Edelman, a cognitive expert and professor of psychology at Cornell University, offers some insight in “The Happiness of Pursuit: What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About the Good Life.” In his new book, Edelman walks the reader through the brain’s basic computational skills – its ability to compute information, perform statistical analysis and weigh value judgments in daily life – as a way to explain our relationship with happiness. Our capacity to retain memories and develop foresight allows us to plan for the future, says Edelman, by using a mental “personal space-time machine” that jumps between past, present and future. It’s through this process of motivation, perception, thinking, followed by motor movement, that we’re able not only to survive, but to feel happy. From Bayes’ theorem of probability to Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” Edelman offers a range of references and allegories to explain why a changing, growing self, constantly shaped by new experiences, is happier than the satisfaction any end goal can give us. It turns out the rewards we get for learning and understanding the workings of the world really make it the journey, not the destination, that matters most…..

I think one scientifically, psychologically validated reason for not making the most of one’s happiness is investing in the wrong kind of acquisitions. If you have some money to spend and you spend it on buying goods that’s not nearly as effective in making you happy in the long run as buying experiences…….

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February 7, 2012 - Posted by | Psychology | , ,

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