People can boost their happiness by growing a part of the brain which increases positive thinking, scientists believe
Although scientists have known which hormones produce emotions like pleasure or desire, it has been unclear where the feeling of overall contentment and well-being stems from.
To find out, scientists at Kyoto University asked 51 volunteers to rate their own happiness levels and then scanned their brains to see if they could spot any differences between the upbeat individuals and their more glum counterparts.
Intriguingly they discovered that an area of the brain called the precuneus was larger in people who were happier. It suggests that happiness can be worked like a muscle.
Previous studies have shown that regular meditation can boost grey matter in the precuneus, which could explain why those who meditate report experiencing feelings of general contentment and even bliss.
The scientists behind the finding said it will now be possible to clinically measure what things make people happier.
“Over history, many eminent scholars like Aristotle have contemplated what happiness is,” said author Dr Wataru Sato said. “I’m very happy that we now know more about what it means to be happy.
“Several studies have shown that meditation increases grey matter mass in the precuneus.
“This new insight on where happiness happens in the brain will be useful for developing happiness programs based on scientific research.
“This study suggests it is possible to grow a happier brain.”