Last week at work I had the privilege of attending a class on the science of happiness. I find topics about brain and neuroscience fascinating probably because I haven’t studied it to death. A two hour seminar from a former software developer fits nicely into my mosaic of brian knowledge formed from Ray Kurzweil books and Wired magazine articles.
Why would my company want me to learn about the science of happiness? According to various studies and polls, happy people are about 12 to 25% more productive in their work. Furthermore, much of what makes people happy revolves around them choosing actions that lead towards happiness. Therefore, a company has a vested interest in its employees choosing routines that lead to happiness and hence, more productivity.
I’m going to spare you the details of the seminar. If you want to learn more, just go to HappyBrainScience.com. I bring up this seminar for one reason — readers of RosaryMeds already know many of the choices that lead to happiness. For example, in the class we learned about the value of meditation as a way to combat the negative effects of stress. Guess what? Many of us who pray the rosary regularly already experience the positive effects rosary meditation has on combating the stress of everyday life. I’ve mentioned a study in a previous post about the cardiovascular benefits of rosary prayer. I’ve also talked about how people are happiest when they find “flow” or are “in the zone.” Many people who pray the rosary regularly find it comforting because they can more easily get in the zone of deep meditation and prayer.
Going back to my happiness seminar, I also learned how we all have a bias towards focusing on the negative. I think we all know how difficult it is to concentrate or be happy in a group of people if you find even just one person in that group annoying. Instead of focusing on the people whose company we enjoy or the good situations around us, we too often dwell on what’s wrong and foment a bitterness, if not an outright hatred, of those people who we don’t get along with for some reason or another. Similarly, we also tend to dwell on our weaknesses more than our strengths. “I’m overweight.” “I’m not smart enough.” “I work too slowly.” “I don’t have enough patience.” “I don’t have enough energy.” Sound familiar?
When I heard about our negative bias and some of the tricks to combat it (you can get a taste of it from the HappyBrainScience blog), I immediately thought this all sounded vaguely familiar. I then remembered the introduction to my rosary book, The Rosary for the Rest of Us, where I explained the main benefit I get from rosary prayer — perspective. Praying the rosary helps me understand that all the negative things in life we often dwell on aren’t that big of a deal in the big picture. By praying the rosary every day, I manage to keep all my problems, stresses, and worries in perspective. Rosary prayer also reminds me of God’s awesome power to forgive me for all my mistakes, no matter how big. Rosary prayer reminds me that the Holy Spirit is present and always trying to lead me on the path of true happiness. Rosary prayer reminds me that no matter how terrible the world appears, there is hope for a better tomorrow.
Not all of us can attend a happiness seminar. But you don’t have to attend one or buy a “secret of life” type book to start choosing a lifestyle that yields increased happiness. Want to be happier? Turn off the TV and computer, silence your phone, pick up a rosary, and pray! Oh, and reading my rosary book and telling others about this website wouldn’t hurt ;-).