According to neuroscientist Richard Davidson, well-being is a skill, and it can be developed with practice. It’s like learning to walk or playing the piano. The more you practice it, the more you strengthen the neuronal circuits associated with well-being, and the better you get at it. These neuronal circuits are plastic and thus can be expanded and trained. They are awareness, connection, insight, and purpose.
I like to say awareness is your ability to scan reality. As a scanner, you are not meant to process or edit data but to really look at what is there. Mindfulness-based practices, such as mindful coloring or mindfulness meditation, are great tools to develop this circuit and expand your awareness. If you are a beginner in this topic, you can listen to my free guided introduction to Mindfulness Meditation here.
Human beings are wired for connection and bonding. If you look at the old and yet fascinating experiences of Harry Harlow with baby monkey rhesus, it becomes obvious that the desire to connect with comforting figures fulfills an important need: the need for closeness. Once your basic needs (e.g. food) are satisfied, affection speaks louder and our attention goes towards building empathic relationships with others.
Know thyself is an ancient adage, supposedly written in Apollo’s Temple at Delphi, Greece. Self-knowledge is essential. Knowing your emotions, thoughts, and modus operandi work as a personal guide and compass. If you don’t invest time in knowing yourself, you will eventually feel lost and with no direction to go. As Socrates said, the unexamined life is not worth living.
Through Insight, you can find Purpose and Meaning in life. A person who lives towards a greater purpose has a reason to live, and studies have shown that people with purpose tend to live ten years more. What makes you feel happy and uplifted is linked to your purpose. The more you ignore that, the more likely you are to be depressed, anxious, and even physically sick.
I would say these four neuronal circuits are the four jewels of well-being. Once you put your effort and attention into developing these, you will be on the fast track towards greater happiness and well-being. Practice takes patience but it also brings great transformation.
If you are a Highly Sensitive Person and you often find yourself with one foot on the gas, and another on the brake, make sure you find the right balance for you between engaging in stimulating activities and resting. Also, incorporate as many sources of positivity as possible into your daily life as it helps to buffer stress and overwhelm. Take it as an act of self-care and make it a priority. These are healthier ways of getting and recovering from that thrill you seek without harming yourself.Keep reading