Wataru Sato, along with his team at Kyoto University has finally figured out the answer to the question: “What makes us happy?” This neurological phenomenon has been linked with many things, such as meditation, exercise, reading, etc. According to their study, overall happiness is a collection of joyous emotions and life satisfaction that combines in the precuneus – an area in the medial parietal lobe that is activated during consciousness.

What Makes Pursuit Of Happiness Work?

People experience emotions in various ways. Certain people feel happiness more strongly than others, like when receiving a compliment. According to psychologists, emotions and life satisfaction together develop a subjective experience of ‘happiness’. Understanding the basic neural mechanisms that regulate the emergence of happiness could be extremely significant in quantifying its levels objectively.

Researchers scanned the brains of participants using MRI. The individuals were then given a survey to assess their normal levels of happiness, how strongly they felt emotions, and how satisfied they were with their lives.

Pursuit Of Happiness

The analysis showed that the individuals who scored higher in the surveys had a higher mass of grey matter in the precuneus. This means that people who experience happiness more strongly, feel sadness more intensely, and are more likely to find a purpose in their life have a larger precuneus.

“Over history, many scholars, such as Aristotle, have contemplated what happiness is. I’m very happy that we now know more about what it means to be happy”, stated Sato.

How Does This Help Us?

Sato hopes that these findings will have positive implications on happiness training. “Various studies have demonstrated that meditation increases grey matter mass in the precuneus. These new insights on where happiness occurs inside the brain can be useful for developing scientifically sound happiness programs”, he concluded. The study was recently published in Scientific Reports.