How To Train Our Minds To Be Happier

We are a culture obsessed with happiness, except we’ve been going about it all wrong. Before I became a doctor, I actually studied Buddhism. I wanted to understand the root of human suffering, and through that, understand the way to create happiness.

On today’s episode, I’m excited to talk to Dan Harris about the science of happiness, how to deal with the challenges of modern-day life, and how to create more happiness for ourselves and for those around us. We kick off our conversation by talking about Dan’s recent trip to India, where he spent two weeks with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Dan and I talk about the most important key to happiness, which according to the Dalai Lama, is our connection to other people. Relationships are truly at the core of a long and healthy life.

The longest-living and most joyous people in the world all share one common trait: a sense of community. When we have a tribe to lean on, it gives us a sense of belonging, connection, and worth outside of ourselves that can open up a wealth of possibilities. Distraction is now an epidemic globally, and we know from the science that a distracted mind is an unhappy mind. We are also more isolated and alienated than ever, and that has led to huge upticks in anxiety, depression, addiction, loneliness, and suicide.

Dan explains that happiness is a skill, and we can actually train our brains for happiness through simple mindfulness practices like meditation. We also discuss one of the key takeaways from Dan’s time with the Dalai Lama, which is the concept of wise selfishness. It means recognizing that we are both hardwired to be self-interested and we are social animals, programmed for compassion, collaboration, and connection.

Dan explains how acting in generous and altruistic ways makes you happier than solely focusing on yourself. We also talk about what self-criticism and judgment of others does to our biology, and how meditation can help us work through these things. Happiness doesn’t have to be something you either have or you don’t—just like your health, it’s something you can work on. I hope you’ll tune in to learn more about embracing mindfulness habits that promote more joy and contentment in your own life.

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