What really makes us happy? Many folks think that “achieving & getting stuff” is the key to a happy life. But science tells a different story.
The latest studies say that true happiness comes from being compassionate. It’s when we help out our friends, feel connected to the world, give without expecting anything back, are kind just for the sake of it, and view people as “other-selves” instead of just “others” — that’s when life becomes meaningful and purposeful.
In fact, brain scientists at the University of British Columbia found that when we donate to charity, our brain’s “pleasure center” lights up like a full moon on a clear night. Another study from the University of San Diego discovered that acts of kindness, generosity, and cooperation spread like wildfire to everyone nearby.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” — Dalai Lama
If spreading joy around the world isn’t cool enough, being compassionate and kind also brings a bunch of health benefits. What kind of benefits? From living longer to reducing anxiety, beating the blues, and boosting our immunity — the list goes on.
It seems the saying “Give… and you shall receive” isn’t just talk.
Becoming Nicer & More Compassionate
“Sounds awesome. I wanna be a beacon of light too. But sometimes I wanna throw my shoe at people. Are kind and compassionate folks just born that way?”
According to science, nope. Our brain (and how aware we are) can get stronger, like a muscle. That’s the power of neuroplasticity.
Think about those stories of the tough Wall Street banker who gave up a fancy life to help others, teaching at a rough school or volunteering at an orphanage in India. The point is, we can turn things around at any point in life. We can boost our “kindness level” with our thoughts and actions, no matter our past. We’re not stuck in our ways.
While every day gives us chances to “spread the love,” switching into “kindness mode” is easier than you’d think. Thankfully, meditation launches our “compassion consciousness” into outer space.
Meditation Teaches Your Brain To Be Nice And Compassionate And it all starts with the brain. A popular study from UCLA School of Medicine found that the “right anterior dorsal insula” of meditators is super active during sessions. What’s the connection?
As shown by brain scans from University of Wisconsin scientists, this happens to be the same brain area that lights up like a Christmas tree when our “kindness & compassion level” is at its peak.
Is it just chance that many of history’s kindest people were also into meditation? Could it be that this ancient practice literally shaped their brains towards kindness and compassion? Did meditation’s big shift in thinking push them to do amazing things?
While becoming a kinder person might not get you a Nobel Prize, it sure can brighten someone’s day. It’s the little things that make the world better, the butterfly effect is a real thing.
With your upgraded “put yourself in other people’s shoes” and “see your face in others” meditation mindset, how much positive change can you make in the world?
Change your thoughts. Change your life. Change the world. Try out meditation.
Dr. Rameez Shaikh (MBBS, MD, MIPS) is a consultant Psychiatrist, Sexologist & Psychotherapist in Nagpur and works at Mind & Mood Clinic. He believes that science-based treatment, encompassing spiritual, physical, and mental health, will provide you with the long-lasting knowledge and tool to find happiness and wholeness again.
Dr. Rameez Shaikh, a dedicated psychiatrist , is a beacon of compassion and understanding in the realm of mental health. With a genuine passion for helping others, he combines his extensive knowledge and empathetic approach to create a supportive space for his patients.