World Happiness Report is grand name, and the report itself has given rise to a number of interesting headlines. But both it and the work behind it go well beyond a grand name and fun headlines — it is a work based on extensive global research, and on profoundly considered premises.

And it is motivated by genuine compassion… an interest in a better way of being for all.

What is of particular interest in the context of the Anamaya App and its modules, are four key constituents of wellbeing that are identified by Professor Richard J Davidson, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Professor Davidson states clearly that evidence demonstrates that mental training and learning skills in these areas can make a difference to wellbeing and ‘even re-wire the brain.’

The components he identifies are:

  1. Sustaining positive emotion. Prof Davidson’s research shows that people with higher activity in that area of the brain responsible for positive emotion and reward, report higher levels of psychological wellbeing and lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone). As Jim O'Conner says in his Fulfilment module, it is important to maintain yourself on the positive side of the spectrum. And Veronica Pretelt and Suncica Getter provide the tools in their module ‘Positivity’. Being positive is important.

  2. Rebounding from negative emotion. Research indicates that the speed with which a person recovers from a set-back, from a negative emotion, can influence how much overall negative emotion they feel. A person who ‘bounces back’ will overall experience less negative emotion. Professor Davidson has found found people with a greater purpose in life show increased resilience, greater ability to bounce-back — and greater well-being. If we can find ways to cultivate purpose, we may also promote well-being. So, as Linda Doke points out in her module, we all need purpose in our lives.

  3. Mindfulness and mind-wandering. The Professors data shows that when people are really focused on what they are doing, when they are able to concentrate, they generally feel better about themselves. And concentration is of course a key focus of the meditations on the app.

  4. Caring for others. Compassionate pro-social behaviours such as generosity and understanding are included in the components of wellbeing.

Compassion has long been identified as a necessary by-product of meditation — a product of the neurobiological changes that naturally take place. And as Professor Davidson points out specific meditations on compassion will greatly increase the propensity to be compassionate.

And, he continues, there is evidence that actually engaging in acts of generosity also helps.

Four key constituents for wellbeing … four constituents identified in the World Happiness Report. Let’s get working working on them!