The Neuroscience of HappYness - An Introduction
Bangalore, Saturday, 13th April 2019
"Like, dislike, are they real? What is the basis of such thought? What is the effect of people's past on their present and future? How do all those experiences affect people's lives?" These are questions that occurred after giving a talk titled, "The Neuroscience of HappYness" to a group of distinguished persons, a couple of weeks back.
I attempted to give people something to think about in the short time I had; ended up getting something for me to think about! After introspection and research, realised that all of it has already been handled by enlightened and evolved ones - from time immemorial. I (like everyone else does) am just reproducing what has already been shared by truly enlightened ones! Whilst so, this is my attempt at giving it a contemporary perspective.
During the talk, I said that most people classify their experiences in life into two categories - 'Like' or 'Don't Like.' When asked about the future, they desire that all their experiences be of the kind that will go into the 'Like' category. Some use a double negative, "I don't want anything that I'd put into the 'Don't Like' category ever again in my life."
Regardless, the outcome almost all wish to have is simple - Most, if not all, experiences that will be from the 'Like' category and very less, if not none, from the 'Don't Like' category.
This leads most to resist the potential occurrence of a 'Don't Like' experience. Here, two very old lessons taught by evolved, enlightened beings come to mind.
First, the Zen teaching: "What you resist, persists!"
Second, The Bhagvad Gita, Chapter 3, verse 34, which says, "The senses naturally experience attachment and aversion to the sense objects, but do not be controlled by them, for they are way-layers and foes."
I suggest and aim to inspire my clients to take 100% responsibility for their lives. Adding at times that they ought to reduce their dependencies on their wants and desires." Suggesting they evaluate each "want" diligently and check what they truly want! And the way to find out the real want is to find out what they are superimposing on the surface "want." Some of them then ask me, "do you want me to become a Saint?" I respond, "No! Not at all! However, I'm suggesting that you become aware of YOU, and choose wisely, using all parts of your brain, not just the Amygdala, Hippocampus or Nucleus Acumbens (parts of the brain associated with Fear, Anxiety and Pleasure), and use other parts of the brain, especially the Prefrontal Cortices that help in making appropriate decisions for the future."
And if the thought you have as you read that is "Oh my! That's too much work! Life ought to be spontaneous!" think again! Like and dislikes are entirely created within; and so, learning what they truly are, and whether they're relevant and true, and especially how they could influence your actions in the present, will help you greatly. There's no future at all except in one's thoughts and imagination - since it is yet to be created. So, being aware and acting appropriately in the present enhances the chances of the "real" future being what one wishes it to be! And help live a better life, in the present.