Thirteen years ago, psychology professor Martin E.P. Seligman introduced Positive Psychology. For those who don’t know, it’s the study of what makes people thrive rather than what makes them miserable. A powerful movement, Seligman’s continued research has not only affected how many individuals come to the study of the mind, but also how they approach their lives. Wrapped up in all of it is meditation. And lucky for us, we now have the science to prove just how beneficial the alternative practice is to a person’s overall health and well being.
Anndee Hochman pens this recent Inquirer post on Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin who is set to present his newest research on meditation and neuroplasticity at this year’s Second World Congress on Positive Psychology. According to Davidson, using meditation we can train ourselves to be happier. While his work has previously concentrated on meditating monks, he is quickly moving into how meditation can have positive effects on children, specifically those with autism and ADHD.
Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, has used high-tech imaging tools to peer into the brains of Buddhist monks, electrodes trailing like spaghetti from their scalps, as they practice meditation. And he has seen their brains light up in areas related to empathy, attention, and mind-body interaction.
Davidson’s conclusion: We can train our brains – and our selves – to be more attentive, more compassionate, and even happier. “The key point is that happiness and other positive characteristics are best regarded as skills,” he says. “We can . . . engage in intentional efforts to cultivate positive habits of mind.”
Read more on Davidson, meditation, and the science of thriving here.