Close your eyes and think about happiness.
No matter how much we lust after worldly objects and material pleasures, in the end, we all just want to be happy. Now the ranks of science have stepped in to help unravel the secrets of this precious state of being. And they’re discovering what yogis have known all along.
Happiness, it seems, has a biological component. Groundbreaking studies conducted by University of Wisconsin psychologist Richard Davidson over the past decade have shown that people who report high rates of happy feelings have a larger and more active left prefrontal cortex than their depressed counterparts. Other studies have concluded that happiness may be a matter of genetics.
In sanscrit¬†ananda, or delight, “is seen as being present in the essence of everything that exists. Happiness is in this way not something that depends on what you have, but what you are.”
In fact, many studies suggest that yoga can effect positive states¬†of mind, despite life’s highs and lows. In 1993, a British team measured the effects of three relaxation techniques chair sitting, visualization, and yoga and found that yoga resulted in the greatest increase in alertness, mental and physical energy, and lust for life.
“Yoga primarily changes your consciousness, which includes your way of looking at things,” says Cornelissen. “In the process, many aspects of your physical functioning also change, including your brain chemistry.”
Whether we use Yoga¬†or some other self-affirming behavior, it’s clear that even born-to-be-negative types can choose to cultivate happiness. Just as a bad mood can become a bad habit that perpetuates unhappiness, so can nurturing positive feelings lead to a more permanent positive state of mind.
*References from http://psyphz.psych.wisc.edu/