Science is one step closer to being able to measure happiness
Would you say you’re a happy person? There are so many different definitions and conditions that come with the feeling that it’s hard to answer that question, but science thinks it might have found a way. Kyoto University over in Japan used MRI scans to locate the part of the brain responsible for that giddy feeling called the “precuneus.” Now that we know where it is, we’re one step closer to being able to do something about it.
The researchers at the university put together a survey, with questions that acknowledge both the momentary, emotionally charged times we experience happiness (like getting a good grade on a test or opening a really good present), as well as the more subdued happiness that comes from being content with life in general (like feeling secure in your job or relationship). Using this, researchers actually found a connection.
What it boiled down to was this: participants who scored highly on this survey (AKA said they were happier) tended to have more gray matter in their precuneus, meaning they scientifically felt it as well. Specifically, they were able to “feel happiness more intensely, feel sadness less intensely, and are more able to find meaning in life.” Uh, sign me up for that.
However, that’s all we know so far. It does open up some other interesting ideas. For instance, scientists have also looked at the relationship of meditation to the precuneus (apparently, it can increase your ability to feel happiness). But then there have been many studies over the years involving happiness in general, which used to be based on subjective and possibly unreliable self-reported data, rather than any concrete number. It also opens up the door for a closer look into mental health, perhaps finally revealing something we can point at when a person says they are sad or anxious.
However we move forward with it, it’s definitely good news — and that’s something to be happy about.
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