Richie Davidson: Well-Being is a Skill

Most of us don't think of well-being as a skill. A burgeoning field of research might change our thinking.

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We normally don’t think of well-being as a skill, says neuroscientist and emotion specialist Richie Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At a recent conference hosted by The Mind and Life Institute, Davidson talked about his center’s work in the field of contemplative neuroscience. He says one of the most important insights this work is leading us to is: we can train for well-being.

“It is the neuroscientific evidence particularly which shows us that the circuits in the brain that are important to underlying well-being exhibit plasticity—it changes as a consequence of experience and as a consequence of training. We know that the brain is constantly being changed, wittingly or unwittingly.”

The brain keeps changing over its entire lifespan. The good news? We have some control over those changes.

“We can all take responsibility for our own brains and we can shape our own brains in ways that are more positive and can lead to the cultivation of well-being.”