No, I did not write that, but paraphrased what a group of social psychologists at Harvard wrote. You can read the article here.
What I am writing about today is teaching our children to stay rooted, be strong and grounded, instead of always looking enviously and longingly at what they don’t have. Learning to be happy with what we have (rather than pining for what we don’t) is a very important lesson in life indeed.
I love my mother’s way of always making the most of what she has, even though life has not always dealt her with a good hand. She never lamented, “Oh, I wish I live closer to my family” or “Oh, I wish my husband is at home more, like other husbands.” I don’t think she ever looked over the garden fence to see what her neighbours have that she doesn’t. Her favourite saying is, “There, there, dear, it’ll be alright. It always is.”
And life with her is always alright.
And now, researchers are telling us the same thing: wellbeing is something that is learned. If you grow up in a home where there is discontentment, then you will learn to wish for better and escape (even when the going is good) becomes the norm. The grass is never greener on the other side; it is green where you water it. Learn to be happy where you stand, appreciate the little things in your life, and you will see that they are worth more than fantasy and empty dreams. And if you put more effort at home, you will be able to turn the mundane into something glorious. Because your mind creates your reality.
Richie Davidson, a well-known neuroscientist, believes that there are four components of wellbeing, and this thought is supported by neuroscience:
- RESILIENCE. If you are going to meltdown each time something relatively unimportant happens, then sorry, tough road ahead in life. It is exhausting for your loved ones, especially if you have children. Resilience requires thousands of hours of practice in a loving environment (to learn how to surf the waves of life, so to speak), but Davidson says that loving-kindness and compassion meditation 30 minutes a day does help a great deal. And that’s a neuroscientist speaking.
2. PAYING ATTENTION. I think that this is the foundation of gratitude. If you pay attention to the small gestures that your loved ones do for you in your everyday life – like getting up 5 minutes earlier to get your breakfast – then you will feel cherished and loved. If you don’t pay attention, then apart from making someone who serves you selflessly feel unappreciated, you yourself will feel unappreciated too. Use your eyes to see the small, everyday things.
3. GENEROSITY. No, it is not about giving money, but caring for someone. A recent study from the Davidson’s lab suggests compassion training can alter your own response to suffering. So yes, I have known many people who have written cheques and made grand gestures of generosity, have none when it comes to generosity of the soul – like compassion, forgiveness, softness. Yes, they are the most difficult to give, especially if it is not learned in childhood.
4. TRAIN YOUR BRAIN. Our brains are being continuously shaped, so shape it in a positive form.
Article in mindful about Richie Davidson’s views on wellbeing from the neuroscience perspective can be found here.