Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.
Einstein writes an affectionate letter to his son during turbulent times of war in 1915 from war-torn Berlin while his estranged wife and their two sons were living in safer place Vienna.
Einstein had just completed his monumental work of “Theory of Relativity” that made him international celebrity.
My dear Albert,
Yesterday I received your dear letter and was very happy with it. I was already afraid you
wouldn’t write to me at all any more. You told me when I was in Zurich, that it is awkward for you when I come to Zurich. Therefore I think it is better if we get together in a different place, where nobody will interfere with our comfort. I will in any case urge that each year we spend a whole month together, so that you see that you have a father who is fond of you and who loves you. You can also learn many good and beautiful things from me, something another cannot as easily offer you. What I have achieved through such a lot of strenuous work shall not only be there for strangers but especially for my own boys. These days I have completed one of the most beautiful works of my life, when you are bigger, I will tell you about it.
I am very pleased that you find joy with the piano. This and carpentry are in my opinion for your age the best pursuits, better even than school. Because those are things which fit a young person such as you very well. Mainly play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes. I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal. . . .
Be with Tete kissed by your
Regards to Mama.
Let’s face it. We all are concerned about it. The question murmured as if slightly shameful or out of place. “How can I get more of it in Life?”
More, that is. More salary, more meaningful relationship, more success, more social recognition, more appreciated, more helping hands, more meaningful work. However you put it, we crave for more than ever.
It may be because we are raised in growth oriented society. We are told that if you do not grow you do not exist. You should earn more than your peers, you should have more attractive partner than your rival friends, more pricy car than anyone else, that fancy iPhone should be seen in your hands before anybody else in your circle. We are told that if we do not crave for more we may get lost in crowd and irony is that, that itself makes us a part of crowd. We always peep into a myriad of new neighbors’ lawns whose grass often looks greener. Take Facebook. Everyone has fulfilling lives there. Their colleagues are helpful and fun, their partners attractive and caring, their travels exotic and food delicious. Their glasses are full. Children always smile and never have tantrums.
Someone always seems to be running behind it. Whatever ‘it’ is. So why aren’t we?
When it comes to life, however, many of us still believe that grass is greener on other side of the fence.
We believe in the belief of “fulfilling life” and imagine that to be out there — at the other end of the marshes of torment, waiting for us to wade through a forest of doubts. That very belief keeps us confused and stuck.
We always think that someone else is having a better time elsewhere. We make ourselves miserable by constantly thinking about the unknown in an endless quest to find happiness. We torture ourselves over what we should do next, wondering if we’re missing out on something big. We feel we’re wasting our lives if we’re not doing something more important. There is a sense of urgency because we feel like we’re running out of time and should be doing something greater or somehow we’ll fail.
Happy and fulfilling life is a consequence. Not a destination. It is the sentiment we experience, usually in passing, when we’re engaged with activities, people, or purposes that keep us going and make us feel alive. It is not the big warm light at the end of the tunnel. It is the tiny LED that signals “life is ON.”
Steve Jobs, for example, in his oft-cited Stanford Commencement address, told the crowd to not “settle” for anything less than work they loved. Jobs clearly loved building Apple, but as his biographers reveal, he stumbled into this career path at a time when he was more concerned with issues of philosophy and Eastern mysticism. This is a more complicated story than him simply following a clear preexisting passion, but it’s a story we need to tell more.
We’re ambitious and ready to work hard, but we need the right direction for investing this energy. “Follow your passion” is an inspiring slogan, but its reign as the cornerstone of modern career advice needs to end. We don’t need slogans, we need information — concrete, evidence-based observations about how people really end up finding life they want to live.
The Pursuit of Happiness is an essential human right. All great philosophers on whose work our current society is built and standing strong implied that happiness and personal growth were a major purpose of life, and should be central goal of education. The United States Declaration of Independence, which was primarily drafted by Thomas Jefferson, was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The text of the second section of the Declaration of Independence reads,
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
According to the Federalist Papers, written by the founders of U.S. government, “A good government implies two things: first, fidelity to the object of government, which is the happiness of the people; secondly, a knowledge of the means by which that object can be best attained.”
More than two hundred years later, our schools and universities are still neglecting these goals. We are so busy cultivating our intellectual skills in the pursuit of wealth and status, that we have neglected the pursuit of happiness. Through this blog we are trying to understand the new “Science, History and Art of Happiness“.
The question always popped in my mind: Is there really anybody, who is happiest person in the world? Can happiness really be measured? And while randomly surfing on web about the same topic, I came across Matthieu Ricard. Matthieu is Tibetan monk and molecular geneticist. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have certified him as the happiest person in the world.
Neuroscientist Richard Davidson wired up Ricard’s skull with 256 sensors at the University of Wisconsin as part of research on hundreds of advanced practitioners of meditation.
The scans showed that when meditating on compassion, 66 years old Ricard’s brain produces a level of gamma waves — responsible for consciousness, attention, learning and memory. Such biological phenomenon has never been reported before in the neuroscience literature, according to scientists at University of Wisconsin. The scans also showed excessive activity in his brain’s left pre-frontal cortex compared to its right counterpart what gives him an abnormally huge potential for secreting hormones responsible for happiness and a reduced propensity towards negativity.
Though there has been very little research done into the phenomenon, known as “neuroplasticity,” Ricard has been at the forefront of ground-breaking experiments.
He holds a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Pasteur Institute. After completing his Ph.D. in 1972, Ricard decided to abandon his scientific career and concentrate on the practice of Tibetan Buddhism. He lived in the Himalayas studying with the Kangyur Rinpoche and some other great masters of that tradition and became the close student and attendant of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche until his death in 1991. Since then, Dr. Ricard has dedicated his activities to fulfilling Khyentse Rinpoche’s vision. He is the author and photographer of Tibet, An Inner Journey and Monk Dancers of Tibet and, in collaboration, the photobooks Buddhist Himalayas, Journey to Enlightenment and recently Motionless Journey: From a Hermitage in the Himalayas. He is the translator of numerous Buddhist texts, including The Life of Shabkar. The dialogue with his father, Jean-Francois Revel, The Monk and the Philosopher, was a best seller in Europe and was translated into 21 languages, and The Quantum and the Lotus (coauthored with Trinh Xuan Thuan) reflects his long-standing interest in science and Buddhism. His 2003 book Plaidoyer pour le bonheur (published in English in 2006 as Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill) explores the meaning and fulfillment of happiness and was a major best-seller in France.
“When I had connected with people from other cultures who did not speak any of the languages that I do. I smiled. I smiled at everyone around me. I smiled indiscriminately, I smiled widely, I smiled continuously. Whether people looked at me or not, I smiled at them.
Moreover, I noticed that when I smiled, I felt better and more confident, and that a genuine smile could change the way people looked at me even if they didn’t know me. I also learned that by passing along smiles to others, I could create rapport and a human connection, and that others seemed happier when they smiled back. Finally, I discovered that when I increased my smiling, I was more attentive to my own being. These insights began to transform my life in unimaginable ways.” Phyllis Diller says “A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”
And it is often said that Smile is universal language that knows no geographical barriers.
We’re actually born smiling. Researchers have used 3-D ultrasound imaging to capture vivid pictures in which babies appear to smile in the womb. Interestingly, smiling is one of the first facial expressions we learn to control. When babies are born, they first smile in their sleep. Shortly thereafter, when they’re just over a month old, they actually “learn” to consciously smile. Learning how to smile is accepted today as a developmental milestone in children, and it was observed as early as 1872 by the father of the theory of evolution, Charles Darwin, who catalogued the early smiling behavior of his own children. In his book Expression of the Emotion in Man and Animals, Darwin wrote, “I carefully watched my own infants. One of them at the age of 45 days, and being at the time in a happy frame of mind, smiled…. I observed the same thing on the following day: but on the third day the child was not quite well and there was no trace of a smile, and this renders it probable that the previous smiles were real.” Babies’ first smiles are a natural response to their environment; they smile as a reply to their mother’s touch and to what stimulates them. Even blind babies smile in response to the sound of the human voice. And soon babies come to understand that their own smiles have the powerful effect of creating reactions and triggering responses from other people. By three months of age, babies learn that they can inspire smiles in others by looking at them. Shortly thereafter, they begin to engage in one of the first childhood games they initiate, the smiling exchange game.
As noted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, a “smiling exchange” occurs when a baby smiles at someone in order to get that person to smile back at the baby, and when that person smiles back, the baby in turn smiles again. Something about smiling is fundamental to who we are and how we naturally connect with others. In fact, the smile not only is the most recognizable facial expression, but it also helps us recognize others. The ability to recognize a smile is also developed very early in life—when we are just a few months old. Research published in the Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society has revealed that we are so tuned in to smiles that we can detect a smile from more than 300 feet away, at twice the distance we can distinguish other facial expressions. Smiling is evolutionarily important to us as a species. We developed the ability to detect smiles from afar so we could know whether a person who was approaching us was a friend or a foe.