Commentary

The Neuroscience of Wellbeing

The Neuroscience of Wellbeing

Science Reveals that Wellbeing is a Skill

Wellbeing is something that is hard to define and yet we all have an understanding of what it is. It derives from how you feel about yourself and your life, whether things are going well, and how you cope with stress. Wellbeing changes over time and is influenced by every aspect of our lives, from close friendships to feeling that you belong and a sense of purpose.

Neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Healthy Minds, is one of the world’s leading experts on the impact of contemplative practices, such as mindfulness meditation, on the brain. He says that wellbeing is not a static ‘thing’–but a set of skills that we can practice and strengthen, just like learning to play a musical instrument or ride a bike.

Wellbeing is fundamentally no different than learning to play the cello. If one practices the skills of wellbeing, one will get better at it.

The Four Keys to Wellbeing

Research reveals there are four areas of mental training that can significantly improve your wellbeing: Resilience, outlook, awareness, and generosity. “Each of these four is rooted in neural circuits, and each of these neural circuits exhibits plasticity,” explains Davidson. “So we know that if we exercise these circuits, they will strengthen.”

It’s easy to be content when things are going well but what about when we face hardship? I’ll never forget the moment when my mum told me that she had breast cancer. It is in times like these that we need the strong foundation of wellbeing to hold us up.

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