Scientific evidence is mounting to prove the connection between mind and body, illuminating the power of the mind to produce health or deterioration of our physical well-being.
Recently, The Center for Healthy Minds founded by Neuroscientist Dr. Richard J. Davidson, released a framework for the cultivation of human flourishing that identified four core areas of psychological well-being that can be cultivated through intentional mental training (!). The framework was motivated in response to some disturbing realities that undermining human well-being:
"47% of the time, the average American adult is not paying attention to what they are doing... and when they are not paying attention to what they are doing, they are significantly less happy." (Dr. Richard J. Davidson)
In order to cultivate greater well-being, we must be intentional. The first step to being more intentional is to understand the barriers to intentionality:
3) Negative Self-Talk
4) Disconnection from Meaning/ Purpose
From this, the Four Pillars of a Healthy Mind were created (validated by numerous studies):
1) (Meta) Awareness: Keen and flexible attentiveness to our external and internal environments (including thoughts, emotions, and sensations, including the ability to focus our attention).
2) Connection: Sense of care and kinship toward other people that promotes supportive relationships (based in appreciation, compassion, and reciprocity).
3) Insight: Self-knowledge concerning the manner in which thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and external factors are shaping one's subjective experience and sense of self ( including the ability to change our relationship to our narrative through a "constellation of thoughts").
4)Purpose: A sense of clarity that our life is headed in a particular direction supported by personally meaningful aims and values so that even the mundane tasks of our days can fit into this sense of direction with a sense that we are embodying our aims and values.
So, how can you leverage this new insight? Act on it. In order for true transformation to occur, we must move beyond concepts (declarative learning) and engage through action (procedural learning). In other words, we must practice what we learn to make it apart of us.
So, the question becomes how do we practice this framework for human flourishing?
First, we must believe flourishing is possible for us.
Through mindful attention, we must cultivate more gratitude for everything we already have.
We must take the time to assess the areas we want to improve.
Then, we must take action anticipating failure and responding with compassion.
We boldly try again. And again. And again... Ultimately recognizing that this is the path of learning and maturing.
We're not meant to 'get it right.' We're meant to enjoy, connect, and learn as we try.