How neuroscience and yoga agree about happiness

The neuroscience of yoga – We’re sharing a great TED talk with you today in which a neuroscientist challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if bad things happen to us. Modern neuroscience is finding that even when great things happen to people (like winning the lottery) the effect on their happiness is temporary; similarly when terrible things happen (like becoming paralysed), peoples’ happiness levels revert back to a similar level as before the event.

Yoga holds that one of the sources of suffering is ‘likes and dislikes’ (raga-dvesha in Sanskrit). Having likes and dislikes propels us into seeking the likes and avoiding the dislikes. Since obtaining our likes and dislikes is often out of our control (partly or wholly), we become unhappy when we don’t get what we thought we would. Yoga’s solution is not inaction, but selfless action – action where the motivation is not our own likes and dislikes.

Watch this video by Harvard prof Dan Gilbert on cutting edge neuroscientific thinking on happiness, and see if he isn’t mirroring the ancient teachings. How great that science and yoga are coming to similar conclusions!