Study: Can a 9-Month Program Teach Happiness?

Study: Can a 9-Month Program Teach Happiness?

via Very Well Healthy by Julia Metraux

Key Takeaways

  • A study found that a nine-month program focused on improving happiness helped lessen anxiety and increased levels of life satisfaction.
  • Experts stress that happiness is something you should work at and cultivate throughout your life with certain techniques.
  • Mindfulness is one of the key tools introduced through the program, which you can incorporate into your daily life.

While happiness is often thought of as an emotion that just happens to us, we’re learning more and more about the ways it can be cultivated and learned through daily life.https://93415e3277ad5fcfc582b9353ea80933.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

A small new study coordinated by the University of Trento suggests that happiness could potentially be taught through a nine-month program. But experts say you don’t need a structured retreat to apply some of these principles to your own life.

In this study, 29 participants in Italy completed the Institute Lama Tzong Khapa’s “The Art of Happiness” program. Of the participants, 72% were women, all participants were White, and all were volunteers who were not compensated. The study was published in the¬†Frontiers of Psychology¬†journal in February.

Once a month, people in the study either participated in a weekend activity, called a module, or went on a retreat. The lessons presented at the modules and retreats encompassed both Mahayana Buddhism and Western contemplative traditions, as well as scientific research. Some of the topics explored in the program include:

  • Effects of mental training and meditation
  • The psychology and neuroscience of well-being and happiness
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Mind-brain-body interactions
  • The brain circuits of attention and mind wandering
  • Empathy

“If we’re not working towards wellness, we’re not really experiencing our lives in the best way that we can, in the most fulfilling way that we can,” William Chum, LMHC, a licensed psychotherapist based in New York City, tells Verywell. “It’s so important to work towards happiness and kind of choose happiness and make that a priority.”

Teaching Happiness

Participants in the program took surveys to measure their level of happiness before, during, and after the program was completed.

The researchers found that there was a “progressive increase” in volunteers’…

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