Our happy place has been unravelled thanks to a team of Japanese researchers working with the Kyoto University, Japan.
What makes each individual happy is a puzzling question for scientists. More probable than not, the one-fits-all-recipe for happiness will not be discovered. Yet, knowing how to measure happiness despite the factors that influence it is a major breakthrough.
The research team led by Doctor Wataru Sato came up with an ingenious idea to measure happiness and find the happy place located in the brain. Using MRI scans and specially designated and authorized questionnaire to measure the level of happiness of each volunteer participating in the study led to the discovery of the happy place located in the brain. The study features in the Scientific Reports journal.
What is happiness? The answer to this question has philosophical roots extending to ancient Greece and as many variants, underlining the complexity of the subject. However, modern psychological approaches propose that happiness should be termed ‘subjective well-being’. Two main factors influencing ‘subjective well-being’ are life satisfaction as well as positive emotions prevailing over negative emotions.
In light of these approaches, the study stemming from the Kyoto University, Japan pinpoints the precuneus as the region where subjective well-being is experienced. As such, our happy place has been unravelled. The precuneus is located towards the back of the brain, on the top medial parietal lobe.
The MRI scans revealed that when the volunteers experienced consciousness, the precuneus was highly active. Those who, according to the questionnaires had higher happiness scores, also presented larger gray matter volume. On the other hands, the less fortunate, who experienced negative emotions more intensely were found to have reduced precuneus as shown by the MRI scans.
The study could pave the way to a blueprint to happiness or subjective well-being. For instance, according to Doctor Sato, the precuneus was also found to increase in volume as meditation was practiced more thoroughly and consistent.
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