Want to live longer? Be healthier? Feel lasting, abiding happiness? Who doesn’t?
On three warm July evenings in three cities in western Canada, more than 800 people seeking answers on how to be more content came to hear Israel’s “Guru of Happiness” Prof. Yoram Yovell of Hebrew University provide insight on the subject.
Hosted by CFHU’s Western Region, Prof. Yovell’s talk, titled “The Science of Happiness,” captivated his audiences in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
Prof. Yovell is an associate professor in the Division of Clinical Neuroscience at HU’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Centre in Jerusalem. As a scientist, he researches drugs targeting the specific areas of the brain where physical and emotional pain reside. By identifying the exact receptors in the brain that trigger intense sadness, his lab discovered alternatives to opioid treatments, giving hope to some of the most severely depressed patients they treat. Prof. Yovell’s description of his ground-breaking therapy and the way it’s changing the lives of suicidal patients gave everyone in the audience an even greater appreciation of how important happiness is.
Here are three tips Prof. Yovell gave about happiness:
Happiness is not a miracle, but rather something to work on. Few people are genetically happy. The rest of us need to devote time and effort to making ourselves happier. So, go ahead and work on your happiness but make sure your efforts are in the right directions.
Pleasure ≠ happiness. Pleasure is an essential ingredient of happiness and by all means enjoy it but remember that because of the way the pleasure circuits function in our brain, maximizing pleasure will never lead us to sustained happiness.
Most of our happiness ultimately comes from meaningful things we do in life and from our meaningful relationships. Focus on those and you’ll find that much happiness comes from action and from contributing to the welfare of the people and causes you care about.