AN ESTIMATED 3000 PEOPLE will gather at the Entertainment Centre in Brisbane next month, to attend one of the greatest shows on earth, the annual Happiness and its Causes Conference. The brightest minds in philosophy, psychology, science, religion and the arts come together each year for three conferences held in three locations around the world London, San Francisco and an Australian city to explore the age-old question – “How can we lead a happier, more meaningful life?”
With depression now effecting 1 in 10 people in the western world, there is an ever increasing hunger for solutions to our suffering. The star of the show in Brisbane this year will be the happiest man in the world, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, happy not because of his external circumstances but the way he looks at life.
SO WHAT IS HIS SECRET? That’s what attendees at the three-day, not-for-profit, conference are desperate to find out. The other main draw cards at these conferences are the renowned researchers and neuroscientists who explore the science of happiness not just the ethereal concept of it.
Former leading lights have included leading neuroscientist, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s, prof Richard Davidson who wired up the brains of meditating monks.
Matthieu Ricard, meditating monk, wire up
HE NOTED THAT activity in the left prefrontal cortex (the seat of positive emotions such as happiness) swamped activity in the right prefrontal (site of negative emotions and anxiety), something never before seen from purely mental activity. This proved the degree to which meditation can aid in a fulfilled and contented life even for sufferers of clinical depression.
This proved the degree to which meditation can aid in a fulfilled and contented life even for sufferers of clinical depression.
Last year we heard from father of Neuroplasticity Prof Norman Doidge who first alerted the world that the brain was plastic and never had to age.
This year acclaimed primatologist Dr Jane Goodall, will talk about primate brains, and animal happiness, while pioneering emotions researcher Dr Paul Ekman, who the TV show ‘Lie to Me’ is based on, will teach attendees the significance of facial expressions.
Clearly there is a need to trade medication for meditation. As sponsor of the world-wide conferences – the Buddhism Vajrayana Institute – is trying to teach, lasting happiness is not something you can pop.